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Do very old songs lose their copyright?

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  • Do very old songs lose their copyright?

    Hello, I'm an amateur US songwriter. I wrote new lyrics for the music of a German song that was copyrighted circa 1930. I found a professional performer interested in performing both my lyrics (which I copyrighted last year) and the original German music. Anybody know if and when song copyrights expire, and if it makes any difference that the song originally was copyrighted in Germany?

  • #2
    Re: Do very old songs lose their copyright?

    It is submitted that in Germany under Section VII Article 64 of German Copyright Law (UrhG), copyright protection is 70 years from the date of death of the author. If the work involves an international copyright then you cannot make use of German work within the prescribed period. However, if the work is not having international copyright than within USA as the work is not having copyright therefore it will not be its violation. Further, you cannot send or sell the translated copy in Germany within the prescribed period.



    • #3
      Re: Do very old songs lose their copyright?

      Thanks for your help AFFA. I saw a copyright listing for the song on the online Library of Congress Copyright Office which can be seen here:
      Catalog of copyright entries - Google Books

      The name of the song in question is "Weine nicht mütterlein" which apparently lists a Berlin publisher but does not seem to include a separate German copyright. I'm not particularly interested in having the song performed in Germany, I just want to know based on the information available if it's safe to have it performed in the USA.


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