Friday, February 25, 2005

Copyrighting the Classics

So I subbed as a middle school choir teacher today, and during my prep time, I noticed this book: Get America Singing...Again! This is a songbook filled with classic tunes, and the introduction says:
Rachel Carson's landmark book, Silent Spring, raised the specter of a spring where birds, killed off by pesticides, did not sing anymore. Well, today many of us are starting to worry whether people are singing anymore. We meet increasing numbers of adults who call themselves "non-singers," children who enter kindergarten without having experienced family singing,and teenagers who would rather slap on earphones than sing. What is at stake here is not just singing, but the very spirit of co mmunity in our towns, our cities, and our nation. But ... something can be done about it, and this book is a response to that need.

In April, 1995, MENC invited representatives of other organizations - The Society for Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Singing in America, Sween Adelines International, and Chorus America to meet with us to discuss singing in America. After considerable discussion, we decided to launch a campaign to Get America Singing...Again!

The campaign has two main objectives: the first of which is to establish a common song repertoire that "Americans, of all ages, know and can sing." We need some songs that everyone can sing, not just the good old traditional songs, but copyrighted songs also. This book is a result of a year-long process of sifting through lots of great songs. Some of your favorite songs may not be included, but we had to start somewhere, and this is the result. Keith Mardak, president of the Hal Leonard Corporation, then volunteered to help with this project by publishing the books and returning a portion of the cost of each book to the Get America Singing...Again! campaign.

The campaign's second objective is to promote community singing. This includes encouraging audience singing at concerts and recitals, opening or closing public gatherings with a song, and encouraging singing at clubs, private meetings, and in homes. We need singing leadership from Americans in all walks of and church leaders, club presidents, elected civic leaders, radio and TV personalities, camp and scout leaders, and people who get together socially.

So, why not make your own plans to build up the common life of singing in your community? Plan now to include some audience participation at a concert or other public event. Throw in a song or two at the beginning of a meeting to melt the ice and get communication going. Restore the fun of camp singing next time you gather a group around the fire. Get out the guitar, sit down at the piano, tune up the Autoharp, add a bass, drums, or any other instruments you can lay your hands on, and have a sing-along. Think how you can be a positive agent for change; see how singing can add so much to life together on this planet. People will bless you for including them in the power of active music making through singing.

Sounds like an admirable idea. Then I noticed the copyright notice on the front page:
For all works contained herein: Unauthorized copying, arranging, adapting, recording, or public performance is an infringement of copyright. Infringers are liable under the law.

OK. The music teachers want us all to get together and have sing-alongs, to build community. But, if I don't get authorization to publicly perform the songs in this book, I'm a copyright infringer, liable under the law. Let's take a look at some of the songs that Hal Leonard Publishing has copyrighted (copyright 1996):
# Amazing Grace
# America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)
# America the Beautiful
# Battle Hymn of the Republic
# Blue Skies
# Danny Boy (Londonderry Air)
# De colores
# Do-Re-Mi
# Down by the Riverside
# Frere Jaques
# Give my Regards to Broadway
# God Bless America
# God Bless the U.S.A.
# Green, Green Grass of Home
# Havah Nagilah
# He's Got the Whole World in His Hands
# Home on the Range
# I've Been Working on the Railroad
# If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)
# Let There Be Peace on Earth
# Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing
# Michael (Row the Boat Ashore)
# Dona Nobis Pachem
# Music Alone Shall Live
# My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
# Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'
# Oh! Susanna
# Over My Head
# Puff the Magic Dragon
# Rock-A-My Soul
# Sakura
# Shalom Chaverim
# She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain
# Shenandoah
# Simple Gifts
# Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
# Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
# This Land is Your Land
# The Star Spangled Banner
# Take Me Out to the Ball Game
# This Little Light of Mine
# Yesterday
# Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

So, if you want to publicly perform The Star Spangled Banner, you need to get permission from Hal Leonard, because they copyrighted the song as of 1996. Otherwise, you're liable under the law.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fore shame E.......

4:02 PM  

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