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#1151482 - 12/06/08 03:33 PM Question about selling recordings
Theowne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/06
Posts: 1099
Loc: Toronto, Canada
This may be something of a silly question, but is it legal to sell your own recordings of music by (dead) classical composers? There aren't any royalties that need to be paid, are there?
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#1151483 - 12/06/08 03:43 PM Re: Question about selling recordings
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
If the composition is in the public domain (i.e. composed before 1923), you don't need to pay royalties to anyone. If the composition is under copyright, you have to contact the copyright holder (typically the publishing company) and ask for a license to record the work. They'll want a royalty.

(note that I am not a lawyer (yet) and this does not constitute legal advice of any kind...)

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#1151484 - 12/06/08 04:46 PM Re: Question about selling recordings
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13774
Loc: Iowa City, IA
You can record and perform the dead public domain people all you want.

For other stuff, you need what's called a Mechanical License. For some composers, this is handled by the copyright holder, but in many cases, licensing is handled by the Harry Fox Agency:

http://www.harryfox.com/index.jsp

(They do Gershwin, for example.)

For public performance, check with ASCAP, although ASCAP licensing is usually paid by the venue, not the performer.
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"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1151485 - 12/06/08 04:50 PM Re: Question about selling recordings
agent3x Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/24/08
Posts: 147
Loc: United States
No public performance? I'm guessing this is only if you're charging for the performance? Or can you not play copyrighted works for the public at all?

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#1151486 - 12/06/08 06:48 PM Re: Question about selling recordings
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
Of course you can play them - you just need to get permission from the copyright holder.

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#1151487 - 12/06/08 09:29 PM Re: Question about selling recordings
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13774
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I believe it's only if you charge.

Since the royalties are a percentage of receipts, 0% of $0.00 is 0.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1151488 - 12/08/08 01:22 PM Re: Question about selling recordings
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2726
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
For definitive information visit www.copyright.gov. I believe there is usually minimum charge to perform copyrighted music, thus I disagree with Kreisler, it ain't free. To sell recordings you do in fact need a mechanical license. They are generally not hard to get, but for practical purposes the minimum number of licenses you can buy is 500. FWIW, Ravel and Gershwin (and Mickey Mouse) are all still under copyright. They have powerful estates that want to that it remain that way. That's why the period of copyright was extended to 70 after the author or composer's death.

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#1151489 - 12/08/08 03:15 PM Re: Question about selling recordings
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
Yeah, Kreisler, it's not a percentage of what you earn - there is a statutory charge you have to pay. Ask the copyright holder first, even if you're not charging for your performance.

I am a law student, and one of the things I'd really like to research is the effect of copyright protection on performance frequency. I have the feeling that there is a lot of totally forgotten music out there that's forgotten and unperformed because it's still under copyright and people are unwilling to risk performing it or recording it for fear of being sued. How much music from the 1920's and 1930's do we know, hear, and perform? Yeah, there is the handful of famous composers, but what about the ones who are not so famous? Would any composer really want to languish in obscurity for 70 years after their death?

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#1151490 - 12/08/08 04:28 PM Re: Question about selling recordings
mkorman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 180
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Wikipedia claims Ravel's works have been in the public domain in most countries since 1/1/2008.

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#1151491 - 12/08/08 04:37 PM Re: Question about selling recordings
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
Ravel, maybe; Gershwin definitely isn't. Generally, anything created before 1923 is likely to be safe, and anything after 1923 is not.

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