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Can I rock Christmas Legally?

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by BobbyRose23, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. BobbyRose23

    BobbyRose23 Active Member

    Ok, I know some music is freely open to record and sell... Is Christmas music one of those? I do not plan on selling it anyway I was just wondering. Thanks guys and gals :D
  2. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Short answer; Music in the public domain is fine to record and sell... you just need to be sure you check with Harry Fox and pay any applicable fees to songs that may not be in the public domain.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Specifically, the "traditional" Xmas songs are in the public domain, but you should definitely check before recording - especially if you are of an age where Gene Autry and Charles Dickens are both lumped into the category of "the distant past."
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    You can record anything you want to record whether you have clearance to do so or not. You can even post it on YouTube. What you can't do is monetize yourself on YouTube for anything that you do not have a clearance for, legally, except for public domain, which is in the public domain. And you can even release stuff that you don't have clearances for, provided you've got a good lawyer that you retain. And that's why God created entertainment attorneys. You can even record and sing Beatles songs while you are in the shower and release them as a parody, where you don't necessarily need any legalese to do so. That is if you do it as a parody like Al Yankovic. Typically one is not sued for parodies. It usually indicates that the originator has no sense of humor if they do so. And that's frequently thrown out of court. So if you were to do Sargent Poopers Lonely FART's Club Band, in the shower, you really wouldn't have to worry about being sued even if you released it, commercially. Then only Michael Jackson's estate lawyer can give you some BS as you laugh at him.

    I want to rock with you... all night.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  5. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Hey... you referrin' to me being as old as Dickens???


    Why, I remember when he was a young lad... about as cute as huck's speckled pup!!
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Well, considering that we have readers whose grandparents heard Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer as kids, i thought the term "traditional" might be misconstrued.

    Completely off topic - but reminded by Charlie - I recommend Terry Pratchet's new novel Dodger for a quick, fun read. Historical fantasy in Victorian London. Dickens is a character.
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Here is a good site for info on Public Domain Christmas songs.
  8. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Excellent site Bob!! kudo's!

    I think there are a few others that are considered to be "holiday" songs, but if you're wanting to record, release and monetize a song not found in their database, submit them to The Harry Fox Agency and whether they are in the public domain or still under ©, Harry Fox will confirm it before you purchase the rights.

    On a related note... Am I correct in that while you are free to use and monetize PD music, that the only © you can apply for is for a derivative work, and on the performance only? e.g. the songwriter is listed as Public Domain and all other © information is as normal?

    (I'm pseudo thunkin' about doing one next year to benefit a charity I work with, naming the charity as the payee with credits to the respective musicians/arrangers.)
  9. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I don't know the answer to the last question. I suspect that you can copyright an arrangement. Because of this, I'd be cautious about using Harry Fox unless you are sure you are asking about the rights for the song and not an arrangement.

    CD Baby has some additional/alternate info.
  10. BobbyRose23

    BobbyRose23 Active Member

    Thanks for all the Amazing Info I think we will be seeing an 80's hair metal Christmas album... Glam Gone Christmas haha... The one I was hoping for was Rockin around the christmas tree but I found others I could work with!
  11. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    If you are making a CD and know in advance how many you are going to press, paying the royalties is a pretty painless process - at least if Harry Fox is the representative. You just pay HFA on line with a credit card. Price is about $0.10 per song per CD plus a $15 processing fee. (I think that's per song as well.) So if you are doing a lot of public domain songs, one or two won't cost a huge amount.
  12. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Yes, you can record and make money from PD songs, but the only rights you have is for your recording/arrangement. If someone steals your cover, you are protected. If someone else does a cover, that belongs to them.

    Remember, you pay royalties on the number MANUFACTURED, not the number SOLD. So don't make 1000 CD and then only sell 100 of them - you'd be paying royalties on 900 of them for nothing.

    You have the right to a COMPULSORY license, also called MECHANICAL license to do a cover of any song. It cannot be denied, but it is also REQUIRED. The gov't sets the payment rate and it is non-negotiable.

    Go see Harry Fox.
  13. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    True in practice, but not technically correct. The rate is MAXIMUM compulsory mechanical royalty. The rate can be negotiated down, but that only happens if, say, Justin Bieber, or maybe even Allison Krauss, is doing a cover. For the rest of us, we just pay the max rate.
  14. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Very true.

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