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Old music re copyright

So putting the finishing touches to my feature film set in Cape Town, we want to use some of the folks songs that have been covered many many times by various artists over the years one song is called 'Daar Kom Die Alibaba' originally written in ? 1820 about a ship that called at Cape Town if history serves me correctly, if we have an instrumental version of this song can we use it in the film? There are a few other songs we want to use too that have been passed down the generations amongst certain groups of people, we would like to use little pieces of the songs in the film

  • The composition will be out of copyright if it's from 1820 but you'll need to commission/create your own recording. If you've made the instrumental version yourself you'll be fine to use it.

    4 weeks ago
    • Hi Richard thanks for taking time to reply to me, we thought the same thing as the original composer must be deceased

      4 weeks ago
  • Music copyright generally expires after 70 years of the author's death (I don't know what this would be in SA but I presume it'd be similar - looks like it could be 50 years, according to a quick google: Did you record the instrumental version of it? If not you'd have to check the copyright for the recording, too.

    4 weeks ago
    • yes we have an instrumental version of the song we want to use

      4 weeks ago
  • As traditional songs these will not have copyright and given their age the will have entered the public domain. As others have said copyright generally expires after 70 years after the composer/ aurhor's death.

    You will need to either licence/ pay for the rights of the recording to use an off the shelf recording or you could record you own version removing any licensing issues.

    4 weeks ago
  • Thanks Richard for the info

    4 weeks ago
  • These issues arise quite often here

    In order for a copyright to be enforceable even the performance of an orchestra or other performer or mechanical property must not have entered into the public domain of a territory that was a signotary to an effective intetnational.copyright convention. For this reason a large number of Soviet era recordings of classical and other public domain properties entered the public domain before Soviet Russia joined any effective international copyright convention. Some of those recordings were produced at a very high standard with such as the Moscow State Orchestra
    and other high quality sources that are quite widely available on HiFi vinal. Don't have the exact date to hand but the important date is around the mid 60's

    A number of higher court cases were tested on both sides of the Atlantic before the issue was finally settled in favour of those asserting that those Soviet era properties had entered the public domain and were not liable to copyright regulations.

    It's a particularly rich source of music even if some audio processing might be required if the old viral record you found in the charity shop is a bit scratchy in places. No durations to worry about and repeated cues to pay for.

    4 weeks ago