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  • Copyrights on traditional music ?

    I have a copy of "The Ultimate Christmas Fake Book" published by Hal Leonard. It has "Over 270 Songs" and I love it. I got to use it on several occasions this year. But what has puzzled me is that "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful", "Oh Holy Night", "Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem" and countless other traditional songs have "Copyright 1992 by Hal Leonard by Hal Leonard Corporation". "Silent Night" has "Copyright 2000 by Hal Leonard Corporation".

    I'm thinking here that maybe these copyrights really mean some sort of license because it would be ridiculous that some publisher could "own" traditional music.

    Am I sadly mistaken ?
    https://soundcloud.com/david-goethe/tracks

    Dave's ,YouTube channel

  • #2
    While the song itself cannot be copyrighted, the arrangement of traditional songs can. This can cause all kind of headaches. So you are correct that those songs are in the public domain, but the Hal Leonard arrangement is copyrighted. Of course, trying to collect royalties on those songs may prove difficult. However, it took years before "Happy Birthday" was ruled by the courts to be in the public domain (in the US).
    The Mandolin Picker

    "Bless your hearts... and all your vital organs" - John Duffy

    "Got time to breath, got time for music!"- Briscoe Darling, Jr.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by davd_indigo View Post
      I have a copy of "The Ultimate Christmas Fake Book" published by Hal Leonard. It has "Over 270 Songs" and I love it. I got to use it on several occasions this year. But what has puzzled me is that "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful", "Oh Holy Night", "Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem" and countless other traditional songs have "Copyright 1992 by Hal Leonard by Hal Leonard Corporation". "Silent Night" has "Copyright 2000 by Hal Leonard Corporation".

      I'm thinking here that maybe these copyrights really mean some sort of license because it would be ridiculous that some publisher could "own" traditional music.

      Am I sadly mistaken ?
      Happy New Year, Dave...
      There is ongoing litigation between the descendants of John Henry Hopkins Jr. writer of 'We Three Kings' written in 1857 published in 1862 and the descendants of Balthasar, Melochoir, and Gaspar known collectively as The Three Kings or Tres Reyes.
      Although the families of the 3 Kings concede that Hopkins indeed penned the song, they feel they should be granted a small percentage of royalties since the Three Kings were an obvious Muse and inspiration for Hopkins to write such a lovely Yuletide tune.

      Litigation has been dragging on for 4 1/2 years now and it appears that both sides are growing weary and about to settle.
      Last I heard is the Three Kings familes are willing to accept 7% .

      Also, as a bonus fun fact...Historians recently discovered relevant information that indicates there was a FOURTH King/Magi, named Roscoe who was turned away at the Manger for bearing the gift of a Fruitcake.


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    • #4
      Originally posted by Luke17 View Post
      Happy New Year, Dave...
      There is ongoing litigation between the descendants of John Henry Hopkins Jr. writer of 'We Three Kings' written in 1857 published in 1862 and the descendants of Balthasar, Melochoir, and Gaspar known collectively as The Three Kings or Tres Reyes.
      Although the families of the 3 Kings concede that Hopkins indeed penned the song, they feel they should be granted a small percentage of royalties since the Three Kings were an obvious Muse and inspiration for Hopkins to write such a lovely Yuletide tune.

      Litigation has been dragging on for 4 1/2 years now and it appears that both sides are growing weary and about to settle.
      Last I heard is the Three Kings familes are willing to accept 7% .

      Also, as a bonus fun fact...Historians recently discovered relevant information that indicates there was a FOURTH King/Magi, named Roscoe who was turned away at the Manger for bearing the gift of a Fruitcake.

      Happy New Year back Luke. So, if one were to use party noises and cowbell on a recording of "We Three Kings", would the Three Kings descendants split the 7% fee , or would there be an additional 7% for the descendants of Marvin Gaye ?

      Gotta love those damn lawyers !
      https://soundcloud.com/david-goethe/tracks

      Dave's ,YouTube channel

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      • #5
        😊. 'First thing we do, let's kill all the Lawyers.'

        Henry V / William Shakespeare.
        Last edited by Luke17; 01-11-2018, 08:33 AM.

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        • #6
          Originally posted by Luke17 View Post
          😊. 'First thing we do, let's kill all the Lawyers.'

          Henry V / William Shakespeare.
          The more I think about it, ol' Billy was right
          Let's kill all the lawyers, kill 'em tonight


          - Don Henley


          **********

          "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

          - George Carlin

          "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

          - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

          "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

          - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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          • #7
            Originally posted by Mandolin Picker View Post
            While the song itself cannot be copyrighted, the arrangement of traditional songs can. This can cause all kind of headaches. So you are correct that those songs are in the public domain, but the Hal Leonard arrangement is copyrighted.
            This.

            Nothing prohibits you from using the song, but you can't use their arrangement without getting clearance. Of course, you can do your own arrangement of the traditional song, in which case you can file your own copyright claim for the arrangement you come up with - and that holds true for any song in the public domain.

            Historical footnote - House Of The Rising Sun is a traditional folk song, and as such it was fair game for the Animals to use. The "arranger" of the Animal's version is officially Alan Price (their organist) but Hilton Valentine (their guitarist) felt he deserved at least partial credit since it was his idea to use arpeggios on the chords, as you hear in the intro. Supposedly they were going to give arranger credit to all five band members, but since there wasn't room enough on the record label to print all of their names, only Price was credited - and because of that, only Price received royalties - which was a sore spot for the rest of the band - especially Hilton Valentine.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ho...the_Rising_Sun
            **********

            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

            - George Carlin

            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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            • #8
              I believe the songs in the Ultimate Christmas Fake Book are just head charts.

              So there is no arrangement to speak of. Add an intro and you have a new arrangement.

              Hal Leonard wants you to play the music in their books, that's why they sell them to you. I think what H.L. is trying to do is to keep you from photocopying that PD song and redistributing it to others.

              The very first illegal fake books were done that way. Collections of songs snipped and photocopied, comb bound, and available 'under the counter' for pro musicians to carry a collection of songs from different publishers without carrying a ton of books.

              Self serving plug: I sell a Band-in-a-Box accompaniment to The Ultimate Christmas Fake Book http://www.nortonmusic.com/fake15.html as well as "Fake Disks" for quite a few others. I call them "disks" because when I started they were available either on 5.25" or 3.5" floppy disks. Now they are direct download, but I still call them disks. After all we still call the pushbuttons on the phone a dial.

              Though I have no inside information with Hal Leonard, I think you can play any of those songs and not get in trouble with Hal Leonard. Some of the non-PD songs might not be legal if you are playing in a place that doesn't have an ASCAP license (or equivalent). But the performing rights organizations are not known for coming after musicians in small venues.

              Insights and incites by Notes
              Bob "Notes" Norton
              Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
              Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
              The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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              • #9
                Originally posted by Luke17 View Post
                Also, as a bonus fun fact...Historians recently discovered relevant information that indicates there was a FOURTH King/Magi, named Roscoe who was turned away at the Manger for bearing the gift of a Fruitcake.

                "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

                Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
                "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

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                • #10
                  Originally posted by daddymack View Post

                  I thought that sounded familiar!
                  **********

                  "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                  - George Carlin

                  "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                  - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                  "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                  - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Yup, I was on a Food & Drink website and we were discussing Fruitcake and a few cartoons popped up, the Larsen one above and another one showing a slice of Fruitcake on a psychiatrist's couch saying no one likes me'

                    Shrink responds 'Fruitcake'
                    Last edited by Luke17; 01-15-2018, 06:43 PM.

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