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Music and Copyright: Copyright Status

Copyright Status

Determining Copyright Status

Here's at least a link to an excellent chart from Cornell University. It shows how long the copyright term is for various publications, including sound recordings. If you have the publication information for an item, then this chart can help you determine its current copyright status.


Public Domain (out of copyright)

Status that denotes ownership of a work has passed from an individual or group of individuals to the public, making the work freely available to use. In the United States, copyrighted works enter the public domain after specified terms. Many federal government documents are also part of the public domain.

As of January 1, 2024, all works published before January 1, 1929 are in the public domain.

Copyrighting in the Digital Age and Creative Commons Licensing

Title 17 of the U.S. Code was written centuries before the arrival of digital technology. Adapting the code to address the needs of digital content is ongoing, and moves slowly. In 2001, Creative Commons was developed as a way for creators to declare copyrighting terms for their content so that reuse would be a more fluid and transparent process. Today, creators can use Creative Commons licenses to communicate terms like attribution, commercial or non-commercial use, derivates, and like sharing to other who wish to reuse content without as much mediation between creator and user. Creative Commons is baked into many corners of internet searching, like Google Images, YouTube and Vimeo licensing, and many other content repositories. 

Music Librarian

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Katie Buehner
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Contact: Website
Subjects: Dance, Music, Theatre Arts

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