Re: [rumori] recordings of "public domain" works

matt davignon (
Sun, 30 Apr 2000 12:29:08 PDT

>His reply was this:
>>You are correct on the public domain issue, however if you took the
>> >samples from a current CD or album, those are copyrighted.
>Of course, 2 of the albums that I sampled from did show copyright notice,
>but after doing some research, I found out that this may actually be true!
>Someone who records a sound can get copyright to it, even though he did not
>compose the sound himself! Can this apply to really old recordings, where
>the composer himself did not own a copyright? If I were to go out and
>some frogs, does that mean that I could claim a copyright on the frog
>on my tape? Could I sue someone else for using the tape? Could I sue the

(From Nicola Battista)
>yes, it is true. If Pavarotti records Verdi which is in the public >domain,
>the label gets a copyright not as the publisher of Verdi's works but >on
>recording of Pavarotti's voice singing Verdi.
>This always applies to new recordings of classical, traditional, >medieval
>music etc.

Thanks for the advice, guys. I'm still looking into this, and I found this
passage on a page from Library of Congress
( :

"Sound Recordings
Reproductions of sound recordings usually contain two different types of
creative works: the underlying musical, dramatic, or literary work that is
being performed or read and the fixation of the actual sounds embodying the
performance or reading. For protection of the underlying musical or literary
work embodied in a recording, it is not necessary that a copyright notice
covering this material appear on the phonograph records or tapes on which
the recording is reproduced. As noted above, a special notice is required
for protection of the recording of a series of musical, spoken, or other
sounds that were fixed on or after February 15, 1972. Sound recordings fixed
before February 15, 1972, are not eligible for federal copyright protection.
The Sound Recording Act of 1971, the present copyright law, and the Berne
Convention Implementation Act of 1988 cannot be applied or be construed to
provide any retroactive protection for sound recordings fixed before
February 15, 1972. Such works, however, may be protected by various state
laws or doctrines of common law."

Ok, if I'm reading this correctly, that means that the "fixation of actual
sounds" on the recording were not eligible for protection before Feb. 15,
1972. Now, if these records I sampled were copyrighted in 1962 and 1963,
would that make the copyright invalid? The compositions themselves cannot be
copyrighted because they're clearly public domain, and the "Fixation of
actual sounds" should not be copyrighted because that wasn't protected at
the time, right?

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