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Are soundtracks from movies in the 1930-40s still under copyright? I know about the 70 yrs after an author’s death rule with books but does it apply to soundtracks? Wondering if I could use part of a soundtrack from an old film for my black and white film project. 

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From Wikipedia: "Music generally enters the public domain in a period of fifty to seventy-five years after the composer's death."

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My suggestion would be to fin out who holds the copyright and contact them. Some are more willing to share than others.

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To add to Accord: Songs recorded before 1923 will expire on October 11, 2021; recordings made between 1923 and 1946 will be protected for 100 years after release; recordings made between 1947 and 1956 will be protected for 110 years; and all recordings made from 1957 to February 15, 1972 will have their protection terminate on February 15, 2067.

 

If you do wish to use the music, I would do as Carolina suggested. Also, I would check public domain music.

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You may be interested in what we used to call "fake books. " This was instrumental sheet music that was rendered in easier arrangements for non-profit performance. When the actual recordings and arrangements are still under copyright, new performances are not.

 

Don't shoot me; I'm only the harmonica player.

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