Recording nursery rhymes on CD

Copyright matters affecting music and musicians.
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Recording nursery rhymes on CD

Post by traceylattimore »

Hi there,

My local pre-school wants to record some songs and nursery rhymes on to CD/DVD, to then sell to parents. It would be the teachers and possibly children who would be singing, but would there be a copyright issue if:

1. They were 'old' nursery rhymes
2. They were newer songs eg. 'Wheels on the bus', 'Tiny Turtle' etc?

Many thanks for your help!

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Post by AndyJ »

Hi Tracey,
Old nursery rhymes should be OK so long as they really are old. Some songs which are well known to children are surprisingly modern. For example the Teddy Bears Picnic dates from 1932, and as its author, Jimmy Kennedy, only died in 1984, the lyrics are still in copyright. And Happy Birthday to You is notoriously still claimed to be in copyright
You should try and check out the origins of all the songs you want to use. Wikipedia provides a list of some rhymes.
As a rule of thumb, songs from the twentieth century should generally be avoided unless you can find clear evidence that the author has placed them in the public domain. For example, the author of The Wheels on the Bus is reputedly unknown and so it seems unlikely that anyone is asserting a claim to copyright in it despite it being from the mid twentieth century. On the other hand Ten Tiny Turtles from the Sesame Street TV series would certainly be one to avoid unless you or the school get permission to use it. If you do decide to look into getting a licence to perform more modern songs, I suggest the best place to start would be the Educational Recording Agency.
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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Post by digiman999 »

Hi traceylattimore,

If the song's still in copyright (check with the music publisher), you'll need to contact PRS For Music, who can provide costing details per x copies. If out of copyright, that song won't need licensing.
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