Thursday, August 2, 2012

Band Wants to Use Samples of Poets

Dear Rich: My band wants to use samples in our CD. One of the sources is a compact disc of famous poets reading their work (compilation called "Lunapark 0, 10" recorded by subrosa (most all the authors are long deceased, but quite famous: James Joyce, Artuad, Appolinaire, etc.). I used bits and pieces and somewhat altered the snippets. Some are longer excerpts. Do I need to track the copyright down by author and their publisher/estate? There are two copyrights at work: one is in the poetry that's read (the literary copyright) and the other in the recording (the sound recording copyright).
What's public domain? If you wish to do everything according to the law, you should review the date of first publication for each copyright (the date of publication of the sound recordings is apparently indicated on the CD covers shown here). If you can determine those dates and then apply the rules found here, you'll know which recordings are public domain. You'll soon see the challenge with this, as pre-1972 sound recording, although not protected by federal la, may be protected under state or foreign laws.
Permissions. We suppose you could contact either: (1) Sub Rosa, the label behind the compilation or (2)  Mark Dachy, the compiler of the collection, and ask whether permission was sought or needed. We think the pursuit of permissions for most of this material will be difficult. Generally, you can assume that newer tracks will be protected --- for example, the three tracks that are post 1972 --- and will require permission. Same for the tracks that include music (they incorporate a third copyright -- the music). As always, it really comes down to whether those who own rights will learn of your use (or care), and as a general rule, the older the work (say, for example, pre-1950s), the less likely you'll wake anybody up.