The Ants Go Marching Home

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PeterMillett
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The Ants Go Marching Home

Post by PeterMillett » Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:25 pm

This song was based on 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home'. New lyrics by Robert D. Singleton. (No date when penned but perhaps 1980s?)

It appears the new lyrics are in the public domain?

Can anyone confirm this? And why that is the case? Maybe the writer did not seek copyright for the adapted version.

Cheers

Pete

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Post by PeterMillett » Sat Feb 11, 2017 8:09 pm

I've partly answered my own question:

"The Ants Go Marching" (1990) is written by:

Copyright with Lyrics © Emi Music Publishing.
Written by Robert D Singleton.
Lyrics licensed by LyricFind.

However:

"The Ants Go Marching One by One" is public domain.

This is very confusing. Can anyone clear this up?

Cheers

Pete

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:05 pm

Hi Pete,

Intriguing.

What evidence do you have that the Ants Go Marching One by One lyrics are in the public domain? I assume that you are using the term in the copyright sense to mean a work which is no longer in copyright, and don't just mean that the lyrics can be found all over the internet fairly easily.

Have you been able to compare the two sets of lyrics? I have seen several examples of the 'one by one' lyrics online, and indeed in some instances the song is just entitled The Ants Go Marching. If the copyright version of the The Ants Go Marching lyrics is virtually the same as the 'one by one' lyrics, I don't really see how the latter song can be in the public domain in the copyright sense.

But for the fact that you have discovered that EMI Music Publishing holds the copyright, I would have been tempted to say that perhaps the author had just decided not to enforce his copyright.
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PeterMillett
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Post by PeterMillett » Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:29 am

Hi Andy

Thanks for responding. Yes this one is a curious one. We are definitely missing a piece of the jigsaw puzzle here somewhere.

Here's what I've tracked down so far:

'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' is published under pseudonym of Louis Lambert 1863. The composer acknowledges it was inspired by 'Johnny Fill Up the Bowl' also published in 1863.

An WW1 adapted version 'When Tommy Comes Marching Home' appears 1914.

Two adapted children's versions are released:
"The Ants Go Marching One By One"
"The Animals Went in Two by Two"

Dates and composers unknown (this is the missing piece. Hopefully someone can confirm dates/composers).

Numerous versions of The Ants Go Marching One By One emerge in the 20th century. (The original contains verses relating to all 10 ants.)

In 1990 the TV show 'Barney' releases a hugely popular version "The Ants Go Marching" This is a truncated version. Verses mentioning Ants 1,2,4,5,7,8 are deleted. (Very noticeably the reference to Ant 7 'The ants go marching seven by seven, the little one stops to pray to heaven' are absent.)
This truncated version is placed under copyright.

The Barney version 'The Ants Go Marching' seems to have ended up being the default version now.

So yes, the "The Ants Go Marching One By One" is strictly speaking not public domain, but rather has never had copyright applied to it.

Or maybe it has? I'd love to hear from anyone who knows for sure.

Cheers

Pete

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Post by PeterMillett » Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:51 am

I guess, strictly speaking, the massively successful YouTube company 'Little Baby Bum' need to get copyright approval to do this version (Which is the truncated Barney version. Perhaps they have got clearance, or perhaps they have wrongly assumed its PD?)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axPmoijvWKM

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:44 am

Hi Pete,

As the song appears to originate in the USA I thought it might be worth trying to see if it (especially the earlier versions) have been registered with the US Copyright Office. Although a search of the post 1978 part of the catalog produces 34 entries, none of these appear to be for the lyrics per se. Some are for book titles while others are for the inclusion of the song in a compilation. There are a couple of entries relating to the Barney and Friends show. Unfortunately searching the pre-1978 catalog is very time consuming, especially if you don't know the exact year something might have been registered. If you have the time and patience, the portal is here.

It is big problem enforcing copyright in songs of this type as a great deal of the use is in a private setting. This creates a false sense that the song is in the public domain in the copyright sense and it is only when a public performance such as a TV show is planned that the copyright status of the song is considered. When I say song, of course we are only talking about the lyrics as the music is almost certainly out of copyright if it was composed in the 1860s or earlier.

Good luck with your quest.
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Post by PeterMillett » Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:12 am

Cheers Andy

That was superb research!

For me this confirms what I thought:


[Basis of Claim: New Matter: new arr. of preexisting song.
new arr.: Shari Lewis, 1933-, d.b.a. Lamb Chop Music.
Unknown PD writer]


I don't know if you remember the Lamb Chop hand puppet from the 70s/80s? I just watched the version Shari Lewis recorded with her puppet in 1993.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQz9Xk_1zWQ (starts at 12 mins)

She has completely re-worded the song with her own lyrics. I believe she took out copyright to protect her new lyrics from being sample or re-used by others.

It also looks like the original lyricist will forever remain as an unknown PD writer.

So the minefield to tread through is to avoid sampling one of the umpteen new versions (lyrics) or arrangements that are out there. (Which I think Little Baby Bum have failed to do.)

So, I'm good for this topic and satisfied with the research data.

Cheers for your help!

Pete

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Post by AndyJ » Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:17 pm

Hi Pete,

One thing I forget to mention in my previous post was that although Robert (Dale) Singleton has 14 entries in the Copyright Office register, none are for the ant song. They are mostly religious in nature. Incidentally he was born in 1952 and as far as the Copyright Office knows, he's still alive. Of course I can't be sure this is the same Robert D Singleton who was mentioned earlier in the thread.
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Post by PeterMillett » Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:30 pm

Thanks!

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Post by PeterMillett » Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:48 pm

Here's a bookend for anyone surfing this post in the future:

The 'unknown PD writer' mentioned the phrase 'Pick Up Sticks' in his/her lyrics.

The American term for this game is 'Jack Straws'. (Created by Parker Brothers 1888.)

Pick Up Sticks is a European game variant that was only imported into America around the time of WW2. I'm picking The Ants Go Marching One By One was written in America in the 1950s. (It also references rollerskating and kids kneeling to pray to heaven - all 50's era American icons.)

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Re: The Ants Go Marching Home

Post by jwmcnally53 » Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:55 am

I was born in 1953 and grew up in southern Alberta, Canada and remember singing the lyrics of "The Ants GO Marching" as found on the lyricsondemand.com site, as a campfire song when I was 5 or 6 (so roughly 1958-59). It wasn't treated like it was new.

The only difference in the lyrics was that we sang the BOOM, BOOM, BOOM seven times in step-wise rhythm to lead back into the next verse without losing a beat.

Jim

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Re: The Ants Go Marching Home

Post by AndyJ » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:24 am

Thanks, Jim, for moving the date of origin back by some years to at least the mid twentieth century, although the lyrics are, as you say, likely to be much older.
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Re: The Ants Go Marching Home

Post by PeterMillettNZ » Mon May 14, 2018 10:41 am

That's a great extra update. Good to have this as an online resource. I appreciate everyone's input.

Andy - I had a problem with my email account and have had to re-join Copyright Aid again. I was going to send you a message. However I can't do that due to having new profile. Is there any way you could message me and I reply?

Cheers

Pete

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