Public Domain's Greatest Hits!

Suppose I want to record a cover song for commercial release and I don’t wanna pay nobody.

What are your favorite songs in Public Domain?

To give you ideas of songs that I would personally dig, I’m thinking “Daisy Bell” (The bicycle built for two song), “And the Band Played On”, “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight”, songs like that. As a matter of fact, if anyone can suggest a CD compilation of songs from the 1890’s that would be awesome!

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It has lyrics, after all.

I believe “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” is out of copyright; that’s a good one.

If I was going to do a CD of out of copyright music, I’d stick to traditionals. Tend to date better than old ‘popular’ music, to my ear.

(Although I now have Daisy Bell stuck in my head. >_<)

Of course the definitive source for this is PD Info.

I offer up Rock O’ My Soul (1830) and Magnetic Rag by Scott Joplin (1914).


Take Me Out to the Ball Game. It’s just so darn catchy.

(This thread reminds me of a sketch I saw on, I think, MAD TV- a phony ad for The Presidents of the United States of America’s new album, Public Domain’s Greatest Hits.)

Steven Foster. You can’t go wrong with Steven Foster.

Well, basically any song or sound recording published before 1923 is in the public domain under U.S. copyright law.

But did you know that any U.S. sound recording fixed (i.e., mixed into final format) before February 15, 1972, is not protected by U.S. copyright statutes? However, it may be protected under state copyright statutes — it all depends on where you make or distribute a copy.

“Greensleeves” would be a safe bet.

Does that imply that I can legally copy/profit from/fileshare recordings by artists like The Allman Brothers Band or The Velvet Underground?

Depending on my state, I mean? If I am not in a state that prohibits it, the RIAA cannot sue me for putting Elvis on Kazaa?

Keep in mind that there are at least two copyrights involved: the copyright on the song (as a composition), and the copyright on the sound recording. Even if the sound recording is in the public domain, the song may be under copright.

I should add that it matters not only in what state you reside (or your server resides), but also in what state the computer is to which you are allowing your song to be downloaded. You are potentially subject to the jurisdiction of both states.

Is there a recently released compilation of new recordings of his songs?

About a month ago I heard a story on NPR about a songwriter from the mid-nineteenth century. The story was both a Music History lesson and a review/plug for a new CD of different artists doing the songs. I was driving at the time and couldn’t write the songwriter’s name down but I made a mental note so i would remember (unfortunately my mental notes don’t last very long :frowning: ).

P.S. yosemite,
It wasn’t until after posting my initial reply that I followed your link and saw that it not only has a Bio, but also recordings of some of his songs. You are brilliant! to post such a helpful link!

Paisley Park, thanks also for your PD Info link!