|This page is part of the Copyright section for CPDL.
See individual pages for details and conditions.
CHORAL PUBLIC DOMAIN LIBRARY (CPDL) LICENSE
Version 4, October 9, 2000
Copyright (C) 1998, Choral Public Domain Library. (many parts are based on GNU Public License, Copyright (C) 1989, 1991 Free Software Foundation, Inc. 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA)
Many of the works in this archive are copyrighted under the terms of the CPDL License. Copyright licenses are generally designed to restrict your freedom to share and change musical works. By contrast, the Choral Public Domain Library (CDPL) License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and perform public domain music--to make sure that these works remain free and available for all its users. This Public Domain License applies to many of the works distributed by the Choral Public Domain Library, as well as any modern editions of public domain music which editors choose to copyright under the terms of the CPDL License. You can apply it to your editions, too.
Copyright confers many individual rights: the right to control the distribution, duplication, performance recording and/or modification of a musical work. The CPDL License is designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of music (and charge for this service if you wish), that you can freely perform or record the edition, that you can change or re-edit the edition (with certain limitations, see below); and that you know you can do these things.
To protect your rights to access, we need to make restrictions that forbid anyone to deny you these rights or to ask you to surrender the rights. These restrictions translate to certain responsibilities for you if you distribute copies of these editions, or if you wish to modify them.
For example, if you distribute copies of a musical work under the CPDL license, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. You must make sure that they, too, can freely distribute, perform and record the musical work. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.
We protect your rights with two steps: (1) copyright the edition, and (2) offer you this license which gives you legal permission to copy, distribute, perform and/or modify said edition.
The precise terms and conditions for copying, distribution, performance and modification follow.
How to apply these Terms to your new editions
If you edit a work that is in the public domain, and you want it to be of the greatest possible use to the public, the best way to achieve this is to distribute it freely so that everyone can redistribute and change it under these terms.
To do so, attach the following notices to the Edition. It is safest to attach them to the start of each source file to most effectively convey the exclusion of warranty; and each file should have at least the "copyright" line and a pointer to where the full notice is found.
In the accompanying .TXT file you should put your name, revisions that have been made, and a pointer to the CPDL license.
This Choral Public Domain License does not permit incorporating your edition into proprietary editions. If your edition is part of a larger work, then the entire work must be public domain in order for the Edition to be included.
CHORAL PUBLIC DOMAIN LIBRARY (CPDL) LICENSE FAQ
Please note that these are general suggestions, but are not intended to replace legal advice. You may wish to consult an attorney for answers specific to a particular set of circumstances.
Can modern editions of public-domain music be copyrighted?
In short, the answer is yes. However, generally there has to be significant artistic/editorial content to make an edition copyrightable. There is a spectrum of editions. On one end are editions which are not copyrightable: these include old editions with expired copyright as well as republications of public domain editions which use the original engravings. Editions which are based on public domain music and add no other editorial content probably are not copyrightable. Further along on the spectrum are editions which include editorial explanations, translations and other additions. These aspects are generally copyrightable. Further along are full-blown arrangements based on public domain works. These generally require permission from the copyright holder. The problem for the choral director is that most editions of older music fall somewhere in between being uncopyrightable and being fully copyrightable. This is further complicated by the fact that almost all music today has a copyright notice (even where there was only mechanical transcription and potentially insufficient creative contribution to create copyright). It becomes easiest to assume all edited music is copyrighted.
How can one tell if music is in the public domain?
NOTE: THIS ANSWER IS NOT INTENDED TO BE, AND SHOULD NOT BE USED AS A REPLACEMENT OR SUBSTITUTE FOR ADVICE FROM AN ATTORNEY WHO IS ENGAGED IN THE PRACTICE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW.
The easier part of the answer is for works published after 1976. Copyright exists in every work containing new creative material, from the moment it is put into fixed form, until the January 1, following the seventieth anniversary of the creator's death. The principal exceptions to this are certain works by the U.S. and State governments, which are (for the most part) already in the public domain.
It is more complicated to determine whether music is in the public domain or not in the U.S., if the music was prior to 1976. Through 1976, for a copyright to exist in the U.S., the work had to be published, the copyright had to be registered, and the copyrighted item had to bear a copyright in the appropriate legal form. The initial term of copyright was for a period of 28 years, and could be renewed once. The original renewal period was also for a term of twenty eight years, but the duration of the copyright renewal period was repeatedly increased in the U.S., so the total possible term of copyright in the U.S. on works published up until 1976 is now a total of 95 years, the original 28 year term, and a sixty seven year renewal. No work upon which the copyright was properly renewed will pass into the public domain until 2018. However, the U.S. copyright office reported that half of all copyrights eligible for renewal, never were renewed, and hence, those items are in the public domain. There is no substantive list of what and what is not in the public domain; upon a payment of the appropriate administrative fee, the U.S. copyright office will research an item, and report the current status of the copyright.
Generally in the U.S., once a work is in the public domain, the work in the public domain cannot be copyrighted again, although if someone produces a new edition of a work with significant new editorial content, the new edition can be copyrighted. The principal exception to this is works of certain individuals mostly from the former Soviet Union, and from Eastern Europe, whose work was in the public domain in the U.S. because they could not register the copyright in the U.S. Copyright was restored in these items.
What are the advantages of using a license such as the CPDL Copyright License?
People have wondered, "If music can be copied, distributed, performed, and recorded, why copyright it at all?" One reason is to guarantee that it will remain freely available. If the music notation file (source code) is given away, it is very easy for someone to remove the copyright notice and claim the edition as his/her own. The terms of the CPDL license make this illegal and will hopefully help keep editions free.
What is the CPDL License based on?
The CPDL License is based on the GNU General Public License, the primary license used in most free software projects. Such projects include the GNU Compiler Collection, GIMP, and many parts of the GNU/Linux operating system, along with thousands of other programs. There is an enormous amount of information on the web about free software.
Where are some more websites that deal with copyright issues?
- Cornell University summary regarding whether a work is public domain or not
- Stanford University guide regarding fair use.