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Copyright of piano reductions and realisations

 
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basso
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 4:05 pm    Post subject: Copyright of piano reductions and realisations Reply with quote

I am currently preparing a series of books containing collections of arias and songs, which I am editing and adding certain novel new features to.

I have checked that the source materials are all from Composers and authors who died at least 70 years ago. The sources also contain piano reductions of orchestral parts.

These were all created more than 70 years ago also - but some of the sources have the same piano parts as these old publications, but have a 'copyright renewed 1948' notice on them (these are US published works). Is it possible for a publisher to 'renew' the copyright on long out of copyright piano reductions?

I am guessing the copyright in the case I am referring to relates to a translation from Italian to English which has been added - but don't want to make any assumptions here. I will not be using the English translation.

Also - how long does the copyright on piano reductions last and also realisations of, say, figured bass parts in baroque music ? Is it different in each of these cases or are they both 'derived' editions?
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Basso,
The starting point is, as you have noted, when the composer(s) died. Provided this was more than 70 years ago and their music has either been performed in public or sold in sheet form in the intervening period, then the original scores should now be in the public domain in the UK.

US copyright law went through a few strange stages during the twentieth century, one of which was that prior to 1976, copyright had to be registered and then subsequently re-registered after 28 years, to be valid. That makes no difference to how copyright terms are calculated in the UK law, which is that a foreign work cannot attract a longer term than would be available under UK law.

I'm not sure that reductions would qualify as 'new works' as far as copyright protection is concerned. Much would depend on the amount of skill and labour that went into producing them. For a good example of what might qualify, take a look at how the court dealt with a case called Sawkins v Hyperion Records Ltd*.

Using that as a yardstick, I doubt if simple arrangements would qualify for copyright protection in their own right, and therefore you should be OK to reproduce what is effectively an edited version of the original work. Translations of lyrics etc (which are deemed to be literary works) are treated as adaptations, as shown in section 21 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, which gives them the status of new works
Quote:
1 Infringement by making adaptation or act done in relation to adaptation.
(1) The making of an adaptation of the work is an act restricted by the copyright in a literary, dramatic or musical work.
For this purpose an adaptation is made when it is recorded, in writing or otherwise.
(2) The doing of any of the acts specified in sections 17 to 20, or subsection (1) above, in relation to an adaptation of the work is also an act restricted by the copyright in a literary, dramatic or musical work.
For this purpose it is immaterial whether the adaptation has been recorded, in writing or otherwise, at the time the act is done.
(3) In this Part “adaptation”—
    (a) in relation to a literary work, other than a computer program or a database, or in relation to a dramatic work, means—
      (i) a translation of the work;
      (ii) a version of a dramatic work in which it is converted into a non-dramatic work or, as the case may be, of a non-dramatic work in which it is converted into a dramatic work;
      (iii) a version of the work in which the story or action is conveyed wholly or mainly by means of pictures in a form suitable for reproduction in a book, or in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical;

    (ab) in relation to a computer program, means an arrangement or altered version of the program or a translation of it;
    (ac) in relation to a database, means an arrangement or altered version of the database or a translation of it;
    (b) in relation to a musical work, means an arrangement or transcription of the work.

(4) In relation to a computer program a “translation” includes a version of the program in which it is converted into or out of a computer language or code or into a different computer language or code
(5) No inference shall be drawn from this section as to what does or does not amount to copying a work.

and accordingly you need to know the date of death of the translator to be able to judge if the translation is out of copyright. Where the identity of the translator is unknown and it is not possible for you to ascertain his/her identity by reasonable inquiry, you can use the date of publication or when the work (in translation) was first performed in public as the starting point and count forward seventy years to determine the copyright status. This is explained in section 12(3) CDPA.

* Hyperion later appealled this decision but were unsuccessful in getting it overturned.
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basso
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the detailed reply. It is all very interesting, if complicated! It would seem that if someone produces a realisation of a figured bass that is derived from an original source it is insufficient to give rise to an 'original work' and thus a full copyright, although I note that the IMSLP guidance refers to "Transcriptions, orchestrations, arrangements, creative realizations of continuo or figured bass parts." as being 'significant' editorial additions, so perhaps this is still a grey area. I know that IMSLP uses Canadian copyright law, but I am talking general principle here.

How does this relate to the more limited 25 year copyright provision that exists for urtext/scholarly publications? I am surprised that this copyright was not invoked in the case you referred to.

In addition, is there is a limited copyright for compilations of various pieces of music in a single volume - i.e the choice of the works to be included and the order in which they appear, and if they are re- typeset and edited , a limited protection from them simply being copied and posted on the internet? Perhaps this becomes a Tort of 'passing off' rather than a copyright issue....
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again Basso,
Unfortunately, music and more especially songs, are about as complicated as it gets with copyright because there can be many individuals involved, such as composers, lyricists, librettists, arrangers, performers, sound recording producers, record companies etc with each layer in the process from composition to performance or recording adding more complexity. All of those just mentioned can have individual permissive rights, and in some cases, there are additional economic and moral components such the right to receive royalties and a credit for their specific contribution, in addition.

However, from what I understand about you want to do, you are mainly concerned with just two specific types of copyright works: music and lyrics. Where you are using urtexts of long dead composers or librettists then the simple 70 years post mortem auctoris rule will be all you need to worry about. The 25 year rule you mention refers specifically to a particular printed edition, which while it may not be reproduced in facsimile form, if the underlying work (say the score of a musical piece) is out of copyright, then its content may be copied out afresh and republished as a different edition without infringing copyright. There is one special case which involves the first publication of a hitherto unpublished and out of copyright work, in which the publisher gains a 50 year period of protection similar to the right an author would have had, but I doubt that will affect you.

As for the difficult areas of arrangements and orchestrations etc, I think that, based on the Sawkins case, as far as UK law is concerned, the courts would be looking for something exceptional by way of any additional input by an arranger for a new copyright to be created. As far as compilations are concerned, again we have some relevant caselaw in the form of Robin Ray v Classic FM Plc in which compilations of classical music made by the late broadcaster Robin Ray for the radio station Classic FM were deemed to have been the result of the skill and labour of Mr Ray alone, and at no stage was the actual subsistence of copyright in the compilations per se effectively challenged. If the case between the Ministry of Sound and Spotify ever comes to court, it will be interesting to see if the courts still hold the same view on compilations
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