Question reg. rights to use a theme

Rune Vejby

Commodore of Water Music
Hi all,


I have recently "discovered" a piano concerto by a late, and rather unknown, danish composer. This piece contains a very distinct and beautiful theme which I have been considering to implement into one of my own compositions for solo piano.
My piece would be structured around the above mentioned melody but contain numerous variations which deviate significantly from the original. This concept of variations on a theme by another composer is no stranger in music history (cf. e.g. Rachmaninoff's variations on a theme by Pagnini) but my questions is concentrated around the judicial aspect of this:

Can I, without any paperwork or unexpected fees, construct one of my own compositions around a theme by another composer???

Thank you very much in advance!
 

rojo

Moderator
Regulator
Hi Rune!

I think it would depend on how long ago the composer died. The laws are different in different countries, but you're probably ok if it's been 100 years since his death. Have you checked if his music in the public domain? Also, it probably depends on how much deviation from the original theme is involved.

Alternately, maybe you could title it after him, or at least state his name in the credits? That would probably be nice too.
 

Rune Vejby

Commodore of Water Music
Hi rojo,


Thank you very much for the reply :)
I also considered the "100 year rule", but as far as I know, this rule applies to commercial establishments (radio stations etc.) who will no longer have to pay royalties to the composer/the composer's relatives after 100 years.

By the way, does the rule count as 100 years from the composer's birth or his/her death?

Anyway, I am not sure whether this rule is usable in my case :)

Rojo, I am not quite sure what you mean by the "public domain". Could you perhaps elaborate on that?

Thanks :cool:
 

Krummhorn

Administrator
Staff member
Hej Rune,

I was intrigued by the question you posed and have completed some research on the matter. From what I can gather, the Danish Copyright Provisions come into play as this is where you reside. On that site is the Consolidated Act on Copyright, 2006 in Danish and in English that is very thorough in its explainations. Chapter 4 of that document deals with the duration of years and age as it applies to Denmark.

Each country has its own copyright provisions, although many are similar. In the US it is 70 years after a composers death, but if the heirs hold the copyrights to certain editions, the copyrights can extend for centuries.

To answer your question regarding composers death or birth, the counting years start at death, AFIK.

Hope this helps to shed a little more light on this for you.


I will leave confirmation to the Canadian side of things to our own esteemed and knowledgeable saint, Robin :angel: :tiphat:
 
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Rune Vejby

Commodore of Water Music
Thank you very much for doing research on this, Lars! In the links you posted it says "
The copyright in a work shall last for 70 years after the year of the author’s death"... If this is correct, I should not encounter any legal problems :)

Thanks again for taking to time to investigate this matter!​
 

rojo

Moderator
Regulator
Hi guys :)

I think you've covered everything in Rune's case, Kh; glad you both got things sorted out.

In Canada, apparently it's year of death + 50 years.

There are quite a number of provisions that apply in some cases; for anyone interested, here's wikipedia's page on copyright issues-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright

And here's a page explaining 'public domain', a term that doesn't apply everywhere-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain

Btw, thanks for the accolades, Kh. Saint though? Perhaps martyr, at best. :D
 

Andrew Roussak

New member
Hi Rune and guys-

yep, that is correct - in exactly 70 years after the death of composer to the day ,his music IS a public domain - in Germany , and I believe, in other EU countries too.

But:
Each country has its own copyright provisions, although many are similar. In the US it is 70 years after a composers death, but if the heirs hold the copyrights to certain editions, the copyrights can extend for centuries.

ABSOLUTELY, so I would check this opportunity too - in case if it was a 20C composer.....

Good luck,
Andrew
 

tomato

New member
Glad I checked into this thread.
I have been wanting to compose a set of variations on a theme by Puccini.
Puccini died in 1924.
 

Rune Vejby

Commodore of Water Music
Thank you for all your replies...

Andrew, good to see you back on the forums. I hope you enjoyed your vacation :)
 

rojo

Moderator
Regulator
No, you're not alone, Art. But if Rune posted the name of the composer, then everyone would be composing pieces based on the man's music! :grin:

I guess we'll have to wait until Rune shares his new masterpiece with us. :)
 

Rune Vejby

Commodore of Water Music
Haha guys, I guess that I am trying to keep a bit secret. But I will of course let you know when the piece is completed.

Rojo, I am pretty sure that you will like the piece that I am refering to. It is of a semi-impressionistic character, I would call it a mix between Debussy and Sibelius if you can imagine that ;)......
 

Andrew Roussak

New member
No, you're not alone, Art. But if Rune posted the name of the composer, then everyone would be composing pieces based on the man's music! :grin:

I guess we'll have to wait until Rune shares his new masterpiece with us. :)

Well, another bright idea - we could GOOGLE about which of the Danish composers approximately fit to Rune's description, and then all together compose a medley on their works!!!

Rune , I wish you the best of luck in this work, and thanks a lot for your greetings. I am trying my best to be back here, but have got unexpectedly too much work to do the last time. Which is not bad, either...

Cheers,
Andrew
 
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