Air, copywrighted or public domain?

Air, copywrighted or public domain?

I’m wanting to record a CD soon, with a mixture of some of my own tunes and plenty of trad tunes. I’m also wanting to record at least one or two airs, and the one that really comes to mind is Mna na hEireann (or Women of Ireland in English). Before I try to do this though, I want to make sure if I try to sell it I’m not in any kind of copyright infringement situation. Does anybody know if this tune is copyrighted or if it’s public domain? Does anybody know if the the lament called Doinna is copyrighted or not too?

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

Have a look at
http://www.emichrysalis.co.uk/commonground/songs/bush/kate.html, where it says,

“It was an eighteenth-century northern poet, Peadar Ó Doirnín, who wrote the lyrics to ‘Mná na hÉireann’. Ó Doirnín was one of many scholars, poets and scribes to come from this culturally rich part of the country and his work has survived to appear in modern Irish anthologies. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the original air which accompanied these lyrics and has disappeared without trace.
Seán Ó Riada, the man responsible for preserving and reviving so much of Irish song and music, wrote the air which now accompanies ‘Mná na hÉireann’ in 1968 to commemorate the bicentennary of Ó Doirnín.”

The lyrics are clearly well out of copyright, but I’d tread carefully on the music issue. If it’s Seán Ó Riada’s tune you’re intending to play for profit, then get written permission from him or whoever owns the copyright (it may be his publisher).

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

Any idea where I could ask for the permission to do this? Sean O’Riada has been dead for 30 something years now I think

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

Not very much, really, other than that it’s a Breton tune. I haven’t been able to find anything on it though no matter how long I’ve looked.

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

Copyright extends for at least 70 years post mortem, depending on the country concerned. Since Seán Ó Riada’s been dead for at least 30 years copyright probably still exists somewhere. I think it most likely that it resides either with his descendants (i.e. his estate) or his publishers. Perhaps his publishers should be your first port of call.

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

Is a website anywhere for Sean O’Riada where I could do this?

Re: Air, copyrighted or public domain?

If you do a Google search on "Sean O’Riada" you’ll find several websites about him.

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

Hi there is an older version with pipes played on the album Gwerz live of this Breton group.

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

You should contact his son, Peadar O Riada.

Posted .

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

Nice to see someone investigating copyright properly.

I’ve just finished authoring / producing a DVD for Gloucestershire County Council here in England. The DVD consists of 46 mini tv programmes totalling 90 mins. Even though we were dealing with music for under-7s, there were plenty of copyright pitfalls. There are two bits of advice I can give you as someone who’s produced many commercial DVDs / CDs:

1) Producing / promoting any DVD or CD is time-consuming - and it’s a real pain to work on the acquisition / editing / production / authoring / mastering / artwork and THEN find out that you have to drop an item. I speak from experience!! Do exhaustive research - make sure you don’t include material unless you’re SURE it’s not in copyright (remember, copyright covers words, tunes, mechanical copyright such as selections of other people’s recordings, and also things which "sound like" or are your own arrangements of things that ARE in copyright will infringe copyright), or unless you have permissions from any all of above if it IS in copyright.

2) Once you’ve tracked down a copyright holder then leave plenty of time (at least 8 weeks, in my experience) before you expect any clearance / reply from them. We had to remove two items from our DVD before production - one because the copyright holders gave us permission to use free of charge, but unfortunately the DVD master had been submitted two days before the permission finally arrived. Bummer. The other one we dropped because we had videoed some Makaton (a communication method used for children, particularly those with special needs) because the owners of the "method" required a fee to watch our proposed video extracts. And having done all this they spent weeks answering emails, so we gave up in the end. Shame, as they would have had some great publicity since the DVD is being distributed free of charge to 2000 playleaders. Their loss.

Good news is that using copyright material often costs nothing provided you ask the right person, nicely, and in plenty of time. Sell the benefits, if you can, to the copyright owner of having their work available to a wide audience.

Mark

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

PS If you are dealing with either audio or video, then upload your sound / pictures, never without password-protecting the page (otherwise it gets indexed by a search engine and you’ve ended up inadvertently publishing it anyway, which is what you’re trying to avoid at this stage) and send the link, username and password to the publisher / owner. It makes things really simple. Do anything you can to make it easy for them to hear / see how their work is being used. You’re way more likely to get permission to use their work.

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

I have no idea whether I did it right or not when I made my CD but I didn’t go around checking the individual copyright issues (and there were several). I just got in touch with MCPS in London and filled in some forms giving details of all the tracks on my CD. A chap there called Hans Fried did the work for me. I paid for a licence to produce an initial batch of copies. I didn’t ask any of the composers of the tunes for permission myself. I just assumed that, as I’d paid for the licence, I had permission anyway. I can’t see from your posts or profile where you live, so of course none of this may apply.

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

Two completely diferent suggestions as to how to go about it in the last two replies. Iprefer the latter, although it may depend on the type of material you are using - if it’s merely your own recording of someone else’s composition, then the MCPS route seems the logical and simple one.
Personally, I had assumed that once a work was performed/published it was out in the public domain then it was up for grabs, but not for free. You must still pay the appropriate royalty to the appropriate person for having played/recorded their work; that’s what it’s all about.
This came up in a previous discussion re an Irish Dance school, that was mounting a display with an entrance fee, to recorded music, ie cds of known performers; when approached they denied all knowledge of/liability for royalties to the performers whose work they had used and charged an admission fee to hear ! They also didn’t credit any of the recorded artists.

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

I’m also reminded of friends of mine, who have a folk-singing trio, and approached Richard Thompson to ask if they could put one of his lesser-heard songs on their limited edition cd, as it always provoked a very large and favourable reaction wherever they performed it. He was quite magnanimous about it, and pleased it got such a good response everywhere.
And Hans Fried, as mentioned above, was the mainstay behind the counters at Colletts record store in London for many years - good to know his encyclopaedic knowledge is still being put to good use.

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

Hi - I’d agree the MCPS route is worth a try as it’s a lot easier.

For our last DVD it was way more complex as we were using poetry and also various educational methods which were themselves copyright - and we were showing other people performing songs based on these techniques as part of a larger project - it wasn’t as clear-cut as simply performing a piece of music. While it’s more difficult it was certainly cheaper (no-one charged us, in fact!).

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

I think it would be best if I stuck with the first way, even though it’s the longer and harder route. I’ll look more into the MCPS, but money isn’t something I have much of right now. I might just write an air and play some of my other tunes and some of the many actual trad tunes.

Re: Air, copywrighted or public domain?

OK. On my CD I had my version of a song that Fellside had already released on another CD, the tune "Barrowburn Reel" written by Addie Harper and the tune "The Snowy Path" written by Mark Kelly of Altan. I also had two tunes that I thought were free of copyright at the time (The Butterfly and City of Savannah) but which I now have doubts about. I’m not even sure about The Hesleyside Reel either. But I sent all the particulars to MCPS and trusted to their scholarship in the matter. I agreed to make 100 copies and that I would sell them for no more than £7.99 per copy. For all this I paid just over £12 for the licence from MCPS. You may find it costs you next to nothing for one or two non-trad tracks. It’s worth asking!