"In 2005 the landmark case of Capitol v. Naxos pitted a distributor of 1930s foreign classical recordings (Naxos) against the putative holder of the U.S. rights to those recordings. The judges of the New York State Court of Appeals ruled against Naxos, but they used the opportunity to go much further than that. They declared that since New York State had not passed explicit statutes dealing with recording copyright, it was in fact governed by “common law” (i.e., law declared by judges in their rulings). In their opinion sound recording copyright in New York derived from the laws of seventeenth-century English kings. It was absolute and perpetual. The rights holders have all rights, forever, and the public has none." (Capitol Records, Inc., v. Naxos of America, Inc., 830 N.E. 2d 250 (N.Y. App. 2005).)
Therefore, it is illegal to copy and distribute an old recording of Rhapsody in Blue if the recording was made in the US.
How did the court justify that conclusion over the more obvious conclusion that copyright—including of recordings—is governed by federal law with a constitutional requirement for time limits?
Current situation is not much better to be honest.
And since this is common law, why haven't any other courts given their own alternate common law? Deferring to English law is bizarre, considering that the Constitution was written specifically to replace English law, including a specific Copyright clause, and backed by a war against England.
The Constitution isn’t a legal system in and of itself. Rather it sets out a system of government and gives one branch the power to make laws, another to execute them and veto new ones, and a third to supervise and rule on those laws (including setting up a court system).
Err, I've got bad news for you about a lot of law.
By analogy, I could imagine a "Dormant Copyright Clause" doctrine, meaning that the states shouldn't have the power to legislate copyright other than in whatever contexts the Federal government explicitly leaves to them.
This is all theory, of course. But actual case law does say something at least similar. See for instance Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Stiffel Co., a case in which the Supreme Court said (in the context of patents) that the Constitution reserves the power over them to the Federal Government exclusively, and that the states can't give patent protection to something that Federal law doesn't protect.
This is what Congress did when passed the ~1978 legislation (even if somewhat retroactively, based on your dormant commerce argument). It explicitly affirmed existing state law for previous recordings, while declaring exclusive Federal jurisdiction for the future.
I guess United Airlines doesn't have to pay royalties for its theme song anymore.
> After the United States' accession to the Berne convention, a number of copyright owners successfully lobbied the U.S. Congress for another extension of the term of copyright, to provide for the same term of protection that exists in Europe. Since the 1993 Directive on harmonising the term of copyright protection, member states of the European Union implemented protection for a term of the author's life plus seventy years.
Some EU countries have pretty old and powerful copyright lobbies of their own, Germany is such an example with Springer and other big publishers.
That's why Germany loves "ancillary copyrights" of all kinds, the one for press publishers , pressuring Google, was one that even went international.
The same copyright interest holders were also responsible for establishing legal constructs like "auxiliary liability" , which ultimately led to the situation that most of the German language Internet needs to be moderated or else hosters make themselves liable for content posted by users .
So while Disney might be the biggest, and most visible, culprit, they are far from the only ones.
It's also a sick irony that the word "harmonization" is used to mean "preventing music from being played".
The EU increased their copyright terms mainly to harmonise them, and Germany won the argument that this harmonisation shouldn't make things any worse for their copyright owners, so it got harmonised at the length of Germany's existing duration which was life+70.
Germany has a pretty strong publication copyright lobby of it's own. Americans on HN seem obsessed with Disney, but generally most international copyright extensions are due to unions working in the publishing and photography sectors much more than any corporations.
I didn't see anything refuting that in a short look around, but maybe that's changed.
Besides, it's not like the copyright on the old theatrical shorts is that valuable. The real interesting stuff will be in the 2030s when the feature-length films start entering the public domain...of course by that point you probably won't be able to find any non-DRM video, if current trends continue.
When it comes to the culture of a country though, I don't think we should only preserve what we currently consider interesting. The purpose of an archive is to preserve things which may become interesting in the future.
Consider a society of philosophers, poets and artists who create amazing pieces of art. Then, consider a change in that society where the populace is more interested in horse races instead. Now all their writings become about horse races, the biographies of those horse racers, etc. They dismiss the old stuff as uninteresting. Should they destroy the books written by those philosophers and instead recycle the paper for printing stories about racing horses onto it? For us in the future, such a destruction would be quite sad. It would be silly to assume that we don't have present biases either. Maybe back then, everyone was familiar with the poets so there was no need to preserve their art as everyone already knew it. And why teach it to children when they are more interested in horse races?
Many archaeologic sites have been visited by pillagers again and again over the centuries (continues until today ). What are they taking? The interesting stuff they can sell. Too often, only the "boring" stuff remains to contemporary archaeologists. How happy they are when they find a receipt written into a clay tablet!
For decades, no piece of Bach was performed publicly. Now he's considered as one of the greatest musicians of all times. People could have tossed away his manuscripts as uninteresting yet they didn't. Another example is how many scenes of the Metropolis movie were cut during distribution and the original version only survived thanks to an Argentinian museum.
It gets even worse when political or religious arguments come into play. Greek art was considered heathen lore and only survived thanks to muslims preserving it. Mayan books were burned by missionaries. IS has been bombing many ancient sites it had control over. All these folks consider the stuff they destroy to be harmful and uninteresting. After all, a good muslim is only interested in qran, a good christian only in the bible. Fortunately we at least preserve the writings of the past centuries that we consider politically incorrect today instead of destroying them, but there are stories of british archives even in the present day "misplacing" evidence of crimes committed during colonization.
I think I am looking for a whirlwind tour of audio copyright
However, unless you transcribed the original sheet music to MIDI yourself, the file may constitute an “original work” for which there is a separate copyright, in which case you'd still need an appropriate license for that. You'd also want to make sure that the sound fonts the synthesizer is using are OK as well.
Now that the original work is in the public domain, though, I would expect that sooner or later there will be a CC-licensed version of it on Wikimedia Commons or the YouTube Audio Library, and you may want to just wait for that.
You could take a "pure" mapping of just the notes and relative durations... but then you'd wind up with what would essentially sound like a weird robotic "player piano" version of the music at strange speeds that would be, well... pretty bad.
Back in 1993 Yamaha built a device that could read piano rolls personally “recorded” by Gershwin by hand (he would hammer them out for money in his spare time), and then played back on a modern player piano. The resulting album is one of my all-time favorite albums.
Yamaha still sells these “scans” (on 3.5” floppy!) for their player pianos, and they could certainly be reverse engineered, but I imagine they are considered derivative works and covered by their own copyright.
But I'll point out that the YouTube performance you linked to isn't a player piano at all -- it's an actual recording, which Gershwin overdubbed to be two pianos.
While player pianos that could incorporate dynamics existed, I'm not sure they were common, and I'm also not clear if there were any that incorporated playtime "per note" dynamics as opposed to generally "overall" dynamics that were added in via a separate mechanism.
But nevertheless yes -- there did exist some player pianos that had the capability of being more expressive than the normal single-volume ones!
This is a reproducing piano recording Ravel made in the 20s and was recorded from a Duo-Art piano in the 60s. Hearing Ravel play his own stuff a few years ago radically changed my idea of how Ravel's music should sound. (Pianist, I'd been playing Ravel for a couple of decades before that) This has Prokofiev playing his own music.
"Many famous composers from around the world played their own works for the reproducing piano: Edvard Grieg, 1906 in Leipzig; Alexander Scriabin, 1910 in Moscow; Gabriel Fauré, c. 1913 in Paris; Nikolai Medtner, c. 1925 in New York."
"This video is a practical demonstration and overview of how the Aeolian Duo-Art pneumatic reproducing player piano works, including how the system plays expressively by controlling the loudness of notes played with perforations on the roll."
This YouTube rip sounds a little crummy to me, though, I’d suggest finding Gershwin Plays Gershwin on Spotify or your streaming service of choice...
The YouTube link you referenced is an actual recording -- the notes are all distinctly different dynamics, and there's plenty of background hiss. It's a real recording, full of life, on a real piano, and genuinely overdubbed. It's not "a little crummy" -- to the contrary, it's an invaluable historical record.
On the other hand, the "Gershwin Plays Gershwin" album is a genuine player piano, but the Rhapsody in Blue is totally different -- it has zero dynamics, everything is exactly the same volume.  It's interesting to hear, for sure -- but more as a historical curiosity, since no pianist would ever perform everything at the same volume unless limited technologically. Your original link is Gershwin's full interpretation. In contrast, his player piano version is nothing like what he would have performed live, but rather adapted to the technological limitations.
The sleeve notes tell of how modern scanning allowed a more complete reproduction of the notes played than contemporary players allowed, which by all accounts were already pretty good.
And what if my program is parametrized by an ML model of unknown training data?
Then that program will likely produce non-copyrighted output for non-copyrighted input. But it's also likely going to sound pretty bad.
> And what if my program is parametrized by an ML model of unknown training data?
Then its output could be considered a derivative work of every work in that training corpus, and anyone whose creative work went into that training data will have a copyright claim on the results.
Depends how tech savvy the judge is. An ML model is not really like a copy or reproduction, it's much more like a person's brain in that it aims to take general patterns from various sources.
Instruments where notes/hits are isolated from other notes/hits like a piano or drumkit work wonderfully with sample libraries. But things like a guitar, violin, or trombone are still challenges. Even the orchestral libraries that are hundreds of gigs and thousands of dollars don't get it perfectly on their own. You definitely can make recordings that trick a trained musician, but not without tons of effort customizing your midi transcription to that specific sample library and you may have to compromise and avoid certain techniques that still don't translate to sampling well.
This is just talking about trained musicians though. Taking a midi transcription of something, spending 10 minutes adjusting velocity, and then loading up some EastWest samples would probably fool the average person.
Also quick edit but many people would consider something using samples of recorded instruments to still be a midi synthesizer because you're synthesizing a performance from samples, as opposed to recording entire phrases or even longer sections with a real musician and then arranging samples to create a recording. Not everyone would agree, but I'd guess the original commenter also had sample software in mind along with more traditional electronic synthesizers.
While we're on it, drums aren't totally isolated either, they affect themselves. A snare roll is slightly different than just playing many snare samples rapidly because of the chains on the drum, and heavy cymbals also take some time to build up momentum so the first hit and tenth hit will sound different if it has not settled. These are all very subtle though compared to something like a guitar or violin or trombone where transitioning from one note sample to another sample digitally can be very obvious.
Disclaimer: i by no means have any expertise on the topic and am just as curious about figuring out how it actually works as the parent comment.
Since you're talking about the Raspberry Pi, maybe you're looking for a hardware. In this case, you can get MIDI piano keyboards that plug into the computer over USB (or can be used standalone). These can both send MIDI data to the computer and also receive it and play it with their internal synthesizer. (If you go really expensive, you can get actual grand pianos with sensors and actuators under each key, along with a subscription service that gives you access to recordings by professional piano players, replayable at your whim with exact dynamics so it's like they're in your living room.)
You can also build your own hardware and hook it up with a microcontroller; I've had good experiences with the Teensy, which is similar to an Arduino but can present itself to the computer as a USB MIDI device so you can build whatever creative/crazy instruments you want.
Should you come across a device with an actual MIDI port (a big round DIN socket with 5 pins), it's just a serial connection; you can get adaptors to convert them to USB.
Look up the 1924 public domain arrangement in sheet music form.
Copy those notes into Musescore or an alternative.
Export the notes into MIDI.
Use Pianoteq to play the MIDI file. (It's one of the better sounding virtual instruments out there.) You can export a WAV file from Pianoteq.
Use this WAV file in your documentary on YouTube.
Prepare to get content ID'd by one of the big publishers anyways. You will have to defend the claim with proof that your audio is in the public domain.
I'm not a lawyer, but I happen to know a little about music licensing.
"CC0 helps solve this problem by giving creators a way to waive all their copyright and related rights in their works to the fullest extent allowed by law. CC0 is a universal instrument that is not adapted to the laws of any particular legal jurisdiction, similar to many open source software licenses. And while no tool, not even CC0, can guarantee a complete relinquishment of all copyright and database rights in every jurisdiction, we believe it provides the best and most complete alternative for contributing a work to the public domain given the many complex and diverse copyright and database systems around the world."
"Metropolitan Museum of Art: All public domain images in its collection are shared under CC0, which expanded their digital collection by over 375,000 images as well as provided data on over 420,000 museum objects spanning more than 5,000 years. Through the power of the commons, billions of people are now able to enjoy the beauty of the Met’s collections as well as participate in the continued growth of the commons, utilizing the infrastructure that makes greater collaboration possible." https://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-met/policies-and-documen...
There is a vital difference between copyright of the written music and any particular recording of said music.
Be careful using generic music from the Internet.
It's like if I recorded myself playing Für Elise. The recording I generate is owned by me, unless I release it to the public domain.
Not that I can see an obvious reason why it would be so tested, and frankly these are fuzzy memories from 15-20 years ago.
Having done this, you could get a result that the vast majority of people would be unable to identify as synthesized.
In some places it will be necessary to do a bit of creative interpretation in order to accommodate for the limitations of your tools, for example, the clarinet trills at the beginning might need to be slowed down a bit. Nonetheless, a virtual instrument like SWAM Clarinets will get you there. These days, they're quite realistic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mmsehqcjc9g
If you have the notes in a machine-readable format, a midi program can produce an audio recording of it. If you are willing to pay, you can get very good samples and the quality will be more than passable IMO.
Getting to a machine-readable format from a scan of sheet music is separate issue. You can either manually enter the notes into a computer (or pay someone on Fiverr), or there may be an ML program that will turn sheet music into something a computer can understand.
If it's only the original version, it'd be kind of fun to see AA start using that instead. IIRC it's got an extra piano in the rhythm section and a banjo chugging away, too.
The first edition was published 1950.
I hear two different stories. It's 70 years after date of publishing, other times it's 70 years after date of the last surviving author.
But - the translator Cary F Baynes, died 1977. https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/32102443?q&versionId=38994288
Does that mean Jan 1st, 2048 is the year the book would be public domain?
Aside: Cary F. Baynes was a student of Carl Jung. I didn't know that until now. Jung did a preface to the english translation of Wilhelm's Yi Jing.
The copyright holder didn't renew, in which case the work already is (and has been for awhile) in the public domain.
The copyright holder did renew, and the copyright lasts until 2045.
Music from the 1920s to 1940s are largely lost on anyone today (below the age of 80). But I have to say that there are some true gems from that time. My grandmother had handwritten sheet music for something like 8–10 folios of at least 30 songs each of music from that time. (None were as difficult as Rhapsody in Blue though.)
The melodies from that time are very delicate and well thought out.
This term is insane. It should be rolled back to something sensible.
As an amateur string player, the opening triggers me in that there is invariably one blow-hard clarinetist playing the glissando opening too loudly whilst everyone is warming up their instruments prior to tuning. Just.. yeah, we get it, please shut up. :(
But seriously, their marketing team for the past 30 years deserve mad props for making this song synonymous with United. I can't name many brands with songs as associated with them as this.
With this kind of weak copyright protection killing his financial incentives, I guess we kiss goodbye the chance that Gershwin will create anymore musical works for us.
Are we really running out of song writers?
I don't want more Mickey Mouse. It's destroyed enough culture as it is.