Okay to Transcribe and Copyright Wlm. Rimmer Piece

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Okay to Transcribe and Copyright Wlm. Rimmer Piece

Post by turriciano »


I have a set of brass band music for William Rimmer's "Two Comrades" (a cornet duet). Above the title, is printed "Liverpool Brass Band (& Military) Journal Published by Wright & Round Ltd., Gloucester" and, on the bottom of the page is printed "Copyright Wright and Round Ltd."

I am considering transcribing this brass band piece to a brass ensemble instrumentation version.

As Rimmer died in 1936, I am hoping that the composition is in the "public domain" and that I will be allowed to transcribe the piece to different instrumentation and to copyright that transcription.

Could you please advise me if this is correct?

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Post by AndyJ »

Hi turriciano,
As you have correctly surmised, the fact that Mr Rimmer died in 1936 means that his work is now in the public domain.
You don't mention if the Wright and Round sheet music is dated, but this is probably irrelevant given that you intend to re-arrange the music. If the sheet music has been published (as a first edition) within the last 25 years, then it is likely that the typographical layout of that edition may still be in copyright - meaning that you could not just photocopy it without permission - but that so-called neighbouring right of the publisher does not prevent you manually re-writing and altering the score, using the Wright and Round sheet music as the source. I note that Wright and Round are still in business, but I suspect that this particular sheet music was probably first published* many years ago and so is unlikely to even raise the issue of the publisher's 25 year copyright.
It is unlikely that you will be entitled to any copyright in your re-arrangement of Rimmer's original music unless your additional work is very extensive and transformative. For an example of how much additional input you would need to make, this case might be of some guidance: Lionel Sawkins v Hyperion Records Ltd (the decision in this case was later upheld on apppeal).
Good luck with your project.

*even if the particular sheet music you have was printed more recently, the publisher's copyright only applies to the first time the edition is published, unless very substantial changes were made to later editions.
8 Published editions.
(1) In this Part “published edition”, in the context of copyright in the typographical arrangement of a published edition, means a published edition of the whole or any part of one or more literary, dramatic or musical works.
(2) Copyright does not subsist in the typographical arrangement of a published edition if, or to the extent that, it reproduces the typographical arrangement of a previous edition.
section 8 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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