Dallas, TX asked in Copyright for Texas

Q: Copyright for a song

I sampled the music from a song that was originally written in 1923. It has been sampled many times since then. I have added new words to the song and changed a few bars. What do i need to do to protect my version of the song? The original composer is no longer living.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark B. Saku
Mark B. Saku
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Seattle, WA

A: Works published before the end of 1923 are most likely in the public domain - which means that you do not need permission from the original (or current) copyright owner to sample the song.

If the work was originally published outside the US, or if the song was published after 1923, different rules apply, you may still need permission from the current copyright owner (or the heirs of the original author).

It would be a good idea to have a copyright attorney investigate the specific song just to make sure the fact support a public domain claim.

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