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  • Public domain question

    I'd like to find out if Richard Addinsell's "Warsaw Concerto" could by any chance be public domain, he died in 1977, so not long enough, but are there exception to that rule of waiting X amount of years after the composer's death? Where could I find out about this work?


  • Maybe the Harry Fox Agency online.

    That is a good choice - I love that piece, really dramatic and Romantic. Originally done for an obscure movie that it outlived.

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    @William said:

    Maybe the Harry Fox Agency online.

    That is a good choice - I love that piece, really dramatic and Romantic. Originally done for an obscure movie that it outlived.

    I watched a program about an actress I was very fond of - especially when I was a kid and Richard Addinsell was her musical guy when she did reviews.

  • What was that film Paul? I can almost think of the title. A WWII story about a pilot played by Anton Walbrook. Anyway, this is a big example of a score that completely superceded the movie it was written for. I remember Addinsell writing a lot of great things. He was not so well known but a really good composer and orchestrator. I believe he did the orchestrations for Victory At Sea by Richard Rodgers.

  • By the way you could hear the main theme on the piano thread herb just added. It's called 20th cent romantic medley. Of course I may go to jail.....

  • Dangerous Moonlight. About a Polish Pianist/Composer/Airman (with a distinctly Russian turn of phrase...)

  • That is it! I can never remember that title. It is not a great film but had good low key black and white cinematography and of course great music.

  • Back to the question: I'm thinking about that as well. I always thought that (in the UK at least) it was a case of 70 years AFTER the composer/arranger died.

    Is it different for other countries?

    Or am I totally wrong? (and I certainly hope so...)

  • Yeah, I'm pretty sure of that as well, but I'm wondering if this law can be broken by the owner or publisher?

  • copyright is really a science by its own ... IMO the most prominent example is the movie *The third Man* which slipped into public domain 1997 (US only) due to an overlooked copyright renewal.
    see also for even more confusion.

    however the holder of the copyright _can_ hand over a work to the public domain or as example for a newer approach allow usage under the common creative license.

    the situation gets actually more confusing because the exploitation right can actually be held by someone else and sometimes its hard to find out who it is.

    a possible starting point might be

    and remember: only a CRAY can run an endless loop in just three seconds.
  • Thanks Christian! [:D]

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    @William said:

    What was that film Paul?

    Not so much a film Bill - about Joyce Grenfell.

  • Just a footnote, it is interesting to know that Rachmaninov turned down the gig before Addinsell took the mandate of writing a score in the style of Rachmaninov for the movie Dangerous Moonlight.

    And I still don't know if the Warsaw Concerto is public domain or not, I would presume not but I wish I could find out for sure, may need part of this work for a project, seems a pain in the a... to find that out.... [:)]

  • Good point: I was talking about this with my brother in law today (who plays with the Halle orchestra).

    He said that, as far as he knew, the copyright remains with the composer with regards to the actual score/music. It may be, though, that YOUR performance is something entirely different.

    Do you, for example, NOT allow people to listen to concerts at a live performance of a composition in which the composer is actually living, or who has been dead for less than 70 years?

    Of course not...

    At least, that was my impression of what he said.

    It's certainly a most thorny issue...

  • Hi Guy,

    I've ust had a look on the PRS database and can tell you the Warsaw Concerto is still in copyright. The publishing rights are held by Keith Prowse Music Publishing.

    I'm presuming you want to re-record part(s) of this work for your project, in which case you would need permission from the publishers, I'm pretty sure.

    More generally, (and I can only speak from the UK perspective really - international copyright just confuses me) there are two copyrights to be concerned with - that of the composition (70 years after death of composer) and that in any given recording of that work (50 years after the first release). As far as I know there aren't any work-arounds to this rule - indeed it's more likely that a compser's estate might continue to retain and profit from these rights for even longer.

    Not entirely sure about public performances of classical works but I seem to remember that for musicals and the like you still need permission from publishers for certain works, even for college shows if it's something like West Side Story. They like to limit the number of performances or something.

    I also did a re-recording/arrangement of a Prokofiev work years ago and remember going through permissions for that one. It was for a TV title sequence and was going to be too expensive to use an existing recording but the publishers let us re-do it. Can't remember if we still had to pay them something though - 15 years ago and it's all a blur.


  • Thanks jamriding and Colin!

    Colin, super! Great to know that for sure, at least I can stop hoping and start looking for permission through the publisher who owns the rights of this work.

    Performance right was mentioned by both as a ?, my guess is that if there's money to be made from the concert you'd need something like a license and surely not free. But in my case it's not for concert use, it's for TV and DVD, so I'll have to go through the publisher.

    I think Addinsell lived MUCH too long.... [[:D]]

    This occurred to me, if 70 years is the time to wait after the composers death (in most countries) wouldn't this be the year where all Gershwin's music becomes public domain? He died in 1937, + 70years = 2007. [[:D]]

    Can someone confirm this?

  • Or, indeed, Rachmaninov or any of the other great (and not so great composers).

    I think I'll take up knitting instead [:'(]

  • I can't vouch for the validity of this source but I found this quoted on Wikipedia about 'Rhapsody In Blue". Clearly it may be slightly out of date now but the Canadian reference may interest you Guy:

    "This work may not be in the public domain in the US (due to first publication after 1922) or in the EU, or those countries where the copyright term is life+70 years. However, it is public domain in Canada (where IMSLP is hosted) and in other countries (China, Japan, S. Korea) where the copyright term is life+50 years."

    It seems you also have to be careful regarding certain arrangements and orchestrations which may have been created after the compositions themselves and by different people - and which themselves may be published.

    Are you as confused as I am yet? [:D]

  • Meanwhile I was doing some research and found out as a fellow canadian I benefit from canadian laws which unless I'm mistaken is 50 years after the composers death, according to my research, (but just noticed you had posted this) as for US and UK it's 70 years. This actually gives a HUGE advantage as a musician, in my current project I need to use some Rachmaninoff, this means no publisher's permission needed, how sweet it is. [:D]

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    @cwillsher said:

    I can't vouch for the validity of this source but I found this quoted on Wikipedia about 'Rhapsody In Blue". Clearly it may be slightly out of date now but the Canadian reference may interest you Guy:

    Maybe that's a special case, wasn't the orchestration done by someone else? A rare occasion where Gershwin didn't orchestrate his own work. So this would mean that possibly the original orchestrator who must of outlived Gershwin is the delay for this piece to become public domain, at least in Canada and Australia. I don't know, maybe I'm out to left field.... [:O]ops: