Record the Beatles for FREE
1/15/2013 10:38:00 AM
Wouldn’t it be great if you could record a classic Beatles tune and not have to get their permission, hire a lawyer, or pay any royalties? Good News.. well, for you. The Beatles classic “Love Me Do” has just entered the public domain in Europe.
You might be wondering, what is public domain?
Songs are considered to be in the public domain if they are not covered by intellectual property rights, such as copyrights, at all, or if the intellectual property rights have expired, the authors have explicitly put a work into the public domain, or there never were copyrights.
Here in the US, the 1976 copyright act declared copyrights effective to the life of the author plus 50 years. In 1998 it was extended, and you now have the life of the author plus 70 years and for works of corporate authorship to 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever endpoint is earlier.
In Europe, the copyright laws grant ownership of a track for 50 years. Our brothers across the pond are also working on extending their copyright laws to 70 years, which might happen before the end of this year. Works already entering the public domain will not be removed as a result of any new extensions. In other words, as of January 1, 2013, “Love Me Do” is all yours to record, at least in Europe. And I believe P.S. I love you should also be available.
This brings up another good question. What songs are in the public domain here in the USA?
Well, mostly tunes your grandmother loved. You might recognize some of them from old movies or grade school music classes. Here are some examples; Chicago that Toddlin’ Town, Camptown Races, Bells of St. Marys, Casey Jones, I’m Just Wild About Harey, Row Row Row, Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay, When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, and the list goes on.
Feeling patriotic? Plenty of classics are available to you in the public domain – Star Spangled Banner, America, America the Beautiful, Battle Hymn of the Republic, You're A Grand Old Flag, and Anchors Aweigh.
That’s right. You can record any of those songs. Put that classic grandpa folk song to a cool modern punk groove, or dub step the Bells of St. Marys, whatever you choose, the profits are all yours. You have no copyrights to worry about. It’s as if you wrote the song.
Personally, I don’t like our copyright laws. Why should a work of art, regardless of how long ago it was created, suddenly become everybody’s? If my family built a house 100 years ago, does that mean that now anybody can move in and call it theirs? Hell no. So, why does the passage of time mean that a work of music suddenly belongs to anybody else besides the writer or their family, or whomever they choose to will the copyright? I believe there should be no expiration of copyrights unless they are chosen to not be renewed. I wonder how Paul McCartney feels about that fact that today anybody can record a song that he wrote back in 1962 and he won’t make a penny from it. I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on that one.