Upload Resource for Hymns

CPDL topics that don't fit in the other categories
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shoreu
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Upload Resource for Hymns

Post by shoreu » 22 May 2007 07:38

Hello,

I've started a wiki for hymns, called HymnWiki (naturally): http://www.hymnwiki.org/

CPDL users are free to hotlink directly to sheet music files they upload on HymnWiki, from corresponding CPDL articles, so long as they make hymn articles (on HymnWiki) for the uploaded sheet music. One advantage in doing this is that if you have a personally copyrighted work, you can upload it to HymnWiki without tagging on the CPDL license (you do have to state the terms in which the public may use what you upload, though). Now, this isn't meant to discourage public domain material (there are some reasons to favor the traditional public domain way of thinking over the CPDL license, but it depends on whether you want people to be able to copyright derivative works), but it is meant to be able to encompass commercial works.

Feel free to make CPDL articles for any public domain material on HymnWiki, though you should probably not upload the stuff to CPDL (just hotlink directly to the HymnWiki files) - especially if the items were released to the public domain in modern times. It probably wouldn't matter that much if you did, but I just don't want the normal public domain items unintentionally appearing as if they are CPDL licensed. I guess that's more of CPDL's jurisdiction, though.

mjolnir
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RE:: Upload Resource for Hymns

Post by mjolnir » 22 May 2007 09:59

Regarding

"... I just don't want the normal public domain items unintentionally appearing as if they are CPDL licensed. ..."

It should be noted that in uploading a file to CPDL, the while the one doing the upload has the prerogative of specifying a level of copyright protection, no piece can have more protection than it is entitled to have. If someone posts a public domain tune, and lists it as having the CPDL license, the tune itself is still in the public domain. A separate issue exists with respect to the various files which are used to store the tune. The case can be made that some of the various files may have separate copyrights from the music itself, though to my knowledge there is not currently definitive case or statutory law on this matter as yet, in the U.S.

ns

shoreu
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Post by shoreu » 04 Jun 2007 18:00

What if it is a piece released to the public domain by the author, rather than one published on or before 1922?

I mean, if you release it to the public domain yourself, and then you submit it to CPDL, yourself, seeing as this may not count as an official legal action, does the CPDL license hold sway on it?

Don't get me wrong, I like the CPDL license and all - it just seems like there could be unforeseen consequences in the distant future, for some works. By and large, though, it probably doesn't matter much. I just like to pick at technicalities sometimes, and figure out the truth below the surface.

I mean, sometimes it takes a copyright to encourage things that aren't otherwise possible. For instance, let's say an artist picked up a CPDL score and made a recording of it. Would this recording also have the CPDL license? Anyway, that would be cool, and all, but the piece would have a hard time becoming known to the public, as record companies might not accept a piece with such a license (while they would with a normal derivative work of a public domain item).

mjolnir
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RE: Upload Resource for Hymns

Post by mjolnir » 04 Jun 2007 20:24

First, my usual disclaimer: I am not an attorney, and what I write on matters of copyright is my own opinion, informed by U.S. Statutory and case law, but is not intended as, and should not be used as legal advice in any jurisdiction. That said, my understanding is that a newly composed item by a living composer can only be explicitly placed in the public domain. I don't know that the mechanics for doing this have been detailed in either statutory or case law, but at minimum it would seem to me that the composer might do so by placing a statement of waiver of copyright on the item itself. Then, if a stronger action is desired, the item can be copyright, and formally transfered to the public domain through the procedures outlined for transfer of copyright in Title 17 of the US Code, and in the relevant parts of the Code of Federal Regulations.

There would seem to be other options, also. Since placing an item explicitly into the public domain means that all rights are given up on the item in question, a composer might decide to retain copyright, and grant explicit license declaring the limitations on usage of the item. One example of this would be "this item may be freely copied and distributed as long as the name of the original author and composer are included on the copies."

Keep in mind that copyright applies only to a physical item. A copyright on a score is not the same as a copyright on a recording of the score. though in many cases the two copyrights are not entirely independent in the U.S. The copyright status of the score in many cases is independent of the copyright status of a recording of the music realized from the score. In the U.S., by statute, the owner of the copyright has the right to make the _first_ commercial recording, but once a copyright work has been recorded commercially, anyone can make a recording of it under the terms of the statutory license specified in 17 USC. In the case of a public domain work, such as a score downloaded from CPDL, the copyright applies to the physical item, the score itself. The recording of the music produced by singing from the score is a separate physical item, and is eligible for a copyright, even though the score the music is sung from is in the public domain.

With respect to the matter of how a recording company would view the CPDL license, the fact is that many of the items I have seen on CPDL (and I admit I have not seen all, or even most, of them) do not have reliable statements of copyright. For example, an item in the public domain cannot be re-copyrighted by anyone else (should someone else make an edition, the editorial changes can be copyrighted, but not the original) and there is some uncertainty that a "CPDL copyright" license can be applied to such an item. Also, as far as I know, there is no final determination in either case or statutory law to say exactly what the minimum number of changes is that would entitle an editor to claim a copyright on a new edition of a copyright work.

Anyone contemplating recording something from a CPDL score would be very wise (in my opinion) to thoroughly research the copyright status of the items they propose to record, and not relying upon the accuracy of the license statement on the score of on the CPDL page.

ns
Last edited by mjolnir on 04 Jun 2007 22:08, edited 1 time in total.

shoreu
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Post by shoreu » 04 Jun 2007 20:29

Thanks for the informative reply. That's good to know, about the recordings and such (as well as the rest).

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