When I expressed some concern about what musical selections we could use because of copyright and royalty issues, she pointed out that a Sousa march would work since those works are all now in the public domain. She had studied music law and quickly rattled off the years 1923 and 1976 and spans of 28 years and author's life plus 70. It was good to know that she was right.
One thing we talked about was sampling because it had been a big topic when she was in school. The number of notes, a phrase, a bassline and a loop could all be interpreted differently. And since I'm musically illiterate, my only contribution to that part of the conversation was that I only recently recognized the bassline from a Will Smith hit as being from a '70s disco song. While I'm sure that Smith's writers and producers knew that it was and maybe even got permission to use it, it occurred to me how much from the massive realm of popular culture is protected and that we may not even recognize it, especially when the newer use becomes so prevalent that we can't recall the original product.
Or in the case of one of Sousa's most familiar marches, where we recognize the spirited patriotic music, yet may not have a clue that the name of the song is "The Washington Post March" or know that it was actually written at the request of the newspaper's owners.
|Courtesy: Library of Congress|
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Life plus 70 is extreme, unless it's a murder sentence, and I don't like it but I get it. My dad worked in publishing for most of his career. When I was little and he would read me a book, he would start at the title page and then turn to the copyright page and read it out loud. I think he did it to annoy my mom but I always remembered it.