Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Thirteen Ball, Sep 6, 2005.

  1. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Hi all. Being an enthusiastic amateur composer and arranger, (Just ask my band, they must be sick of me turning up with prototype scores!!) I need some advice on how and when copyright applies to progress any further without breaking the law. Can anyone help?

    1) When is something 'off copyright?' I understand there's a statutory period (Not sure how long) and that it can be renewed. after that's expired. How would I find out if it was renewed after the copyright had expired?

    2) how about something that's an adaptation of an older piece? Like that euphonium solo of Lloyd-Webber's variations on a theme by Pagannini? Does the copyright date from Lloyd-Webber or Pagannini?

    3) If something is very obviously still in copyright (Written only a few years ago) How would someone like me go about applying for copyright permission to do an arrangement? Is it the publisher of the piano score you can buy (and I have bought) in the shops, or the publisher of the original music?

    I've tried looking on the net and it seems a veritable minefield. One I cannot negotiate without some sound advice.

    Any and all help greatly appreciated.

  2. MRSH

    MRSH Supporting Member

    Have you tried the tMP Copyright Fact Sheet available HERE
  3. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    70 years from the death of the composer, no less.
    Get it from the publisher of the original work, or whoever published the arrangement you are rearranging from.

    I strongly suspect that Studio Music hold copyright on about 2/3 of the world's music (no joke) so they might be a first port of call.

    Some publishers will chase copyright for you - try PMP (advertising on tMP) smaller publishers will generally not take it on. They (PMP) are an exception.

    Don't hold your breath waiting. BMG/Ricordi are shiite. They will leave you hanging. Don't expect speed.

    Arrange older music (up to about 1935) or write your own. It's easier and cheaper. You will have to pay for a licence for copyright material.

    Hope this helps.

    TIMBONE Active Member

    There is a comprehensive info doc about copyright here on tMP.

    The statutory period in 70 years after the death of the composer. Gustav Holst died in 1934, so he came into the public domain on 1st January 2005.

    Paganini is in the public domain, but Lloyd-Webber's variations are copyright.

    Email me on for tips on applying for a license.
  5. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    I love it when there's a simple answer to a thorny problem.


  6. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Just one problem though. There appear to be numerous different organisations who own copyright for one of the pieces I was looking at arranging.

    One company owns the copyright for the score I bought whilst a completely separate company owns the copyright for the song itself.

    Which do I apply to?
  7. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Cheers. I'm starting to get very confused!!
  8. MRSH

    MRSH Supporting Member

    If you want to know who owns copyright to a particular piece of music just e-mail the Music Publishers Association at ''. They will reply to you within 48 hours (or quicker).

    If they advise you there is more than one Copyright holder for one piece of music write to them both. There will certainly be just one 'principal' copyright holder who will hold the rights. They will then advise you whether or not they are prepared to grant permission to arrange the work. It really is that simple.

    Good luck.

    TIMBONE Active Member

    For popular, light and jazz music, go to Music Sales Ltd or International Music Publications, as they control the copyright for a lot of music, or will tell you who to contact if they do not. For any other type of music, go to the publisher on the sheet music, who again will either be able to authorise or direct you elsewhere. What Mike Lyons was saying about Studio Music is that they have first refusal on certain music in the classical idiom. When I obtained permission from Boosey & Hawkes for "A Rachmaninoff Prelude", they had to contact Studio Music after they had authority from the Rachmaninoff Estate.
  10. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Thanks for all your help everyone. I may be nearer to Bernaerts than I am to Wilby but I love writing for brass and want to do things properly.

    Greatly appreciated.

  11. B'aht a band

    B'aht a band Member

    Andi, you are the best arranger of brass music I know, and you'll get it sorted, you normally do! :clap: Hows my arrangement of "Enola Gay" coming on? Got past the need for 8 percussionists?

  12. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    You can also contact my ex employers, the Performing Right Society, for information on who holds the copyright for a musical work. A lot of old 'popular songs', however, may be for instance, owned by the Music Sales Group, but they in turn will normally direct you to IMP, who in many cases, will hold thje copyright for the sheet music rather than the song itself! It is very confusing, but neverthless, I'll offer a word or two of advice on particular works


    Though Tommaso Albinoni died in 1750, the Adagio was actually composed, based on a couple of Albinoni fragments, by the Italian musicologist Remo Giazotto. It's still in copyright and is owned (I elieve) by BMG Ricordi.


    Practically everyone knows Derek Broadbent's famous arrangement, but permission had to be granted on the original work, as it was composed by Katie Moss. I believe Warner Chappell hold the copyright

    SYMPHONY NO 3 - Edward Elgar

    As Elgar died in 1934, most of his works have passed into the public domain. However, this symphony was, as I recall, completed from sketches by Anthony Payne. Can't remember who owns the copyright (It's a buqqer not having the PRS database in front of me, now!)


    A number of composers in years gone by, 'collected' folk music (Percy Grainger, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Martin Shaw etc.) and under those circumstances, copyright ownership is granted to the collector on the basis that the tune concerned would not (allegedly) have been made 'public' if it wasn't for them. The most popular tune sung in the UK to 'O Little Town Of Bethlehem' is one such example, (subtitled ' Forest Green') collected by Ralph Vaughan-Williams (died 1958) and owned by Oxford University Press. Now I've left PRS, I can relate the story that one well known brass band publisher fell foul of this through no fault of their own, because they rang the PRS asking whether it was in copyright, only to be told it wasn't (That wasn't me that told them!). If you'e going to ring PRS for copyright enquiries, best ask for the Music Services department as they're the most knowledgeable.


    Works which were known (as far as possible) not to have been performed in the composer/s lifetime, have their copyright period start from the first 'divulgation' of the work/s concerned. In the UL, posthumous copyright is set at 50 (not 70) years from the first 'discovery'. One such work is Ralph Vaughan Williams' brass band work Henry V, which lie unperformed until discovered in the British Library by Howard Snell in 1978 (I think), so the copyright period starts from then for 50 years.


    Some of you will have heard about the case of Hyperion Records, who had to pay out a large sum of money to the baroque specialist Dr Lionel Sawkins, when they recorded works by Michel Richard de Lalande. Details here:

    Sawkins, not only edited and corrected mistakes in the original, but reconstructed incomplete sections in the style of Lalande. The link will tell you more, but if arranging particularly early music and certainly if intending to record it, best to check that the edition you're arranging from is out of copyright, too!

    The tMP copyright guide explains copyright on a more detailed basis, but for the sake of this thread, I thought I'd advise on some of the more obvious 'pitfalls'.

    Hope this helps

  13. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Aww bless ya kid. Mind you, that march went down well in NZ didn't it?

    It's only at the ideas stage at the mo. (As it was in the pub after a few bevvies!!) Nothing's down on paper yet, cos I need to secure copyright permission first. But rest assured, if I can get permission, the plan is there in my head!

    Still think it'll need comprehensive tuned perc parts though, (which I've never written before) Just have to remember to score them in concert C, not B-flat!!!

    Got a few more Irons in the fire too, some of my own original stuff which avoids all the complications. I hope to get that published somehow too. Watch this space!!
  14. B'aht a band

    B'aht a band Member

    That NZ march was class!!!

    :biggrin: :cool:

  15. B'aht a band

    B'aht a band Member

    That was mad!! sat here typing my last reply, what comes on tin-pot local radio? "Enola Gay" !!!!
  16. Moy

    Moy Active Member

    If in doubt don't copy.

Share This Page