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augustosandino

Quoting melody mashup

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For the bridge of a song, I quote 7 non-contiguous bars ( 3 & 4) from a 16 bar chorus I didn’t write. Although I plan to cite my source, I changed the original melody by cutting 9 bars from the middle of a 16-bar phrase. My recording is 106 bars long. The 3- & 4-bar quotes together are roughly 6% of the new work. What kind of copyright do I need?

 

There are other factors:

The source song is over 70 years old.

Both authors are deceased.

 

 

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From the US copyright law:
 

Quote

 


303. Duration of copyright: Works created but not published or copyrighted before January 1, 19785

(a) Copyright in a work created before January 1, 1978, but not theretofore in the public domain or copyrighted, subsists from January 1, 1978, and endures for the term provided by section 302. In no case, however, shall the term of copyright in such a work expire before December 31, 2002; and, if the work is published on or before December 31, 2002, the term of copyright shall not expire before December 31, 2047.

 

 

https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap3.html

 

The authors' work is protected until the end of 2047. Citing the author doesn't change the fact that you are infringing and are subject to a lawsuit by the authors' heirs (who own the copyright).

 

If you want to get this right either contact the heirs and get a written license to use the work or rewrite your music to make it completely original.

 

The last thing in the world you want is to start making big money with your music only to have it all drained away by a lawsuit.

 

As for copyright for an original work, you'll already have protection from the day it's created but registering your work gives you additional protection so just go to the copyright office website and learn all about how to register your work.

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On 1/20/2018 at 0:06 PM, augustosandino said:

What kind of copyright do I need?

 

Your question makes little sense.  Did you intend to ask whether you need a copyright license (and, if so, what kind)?  If so, it isn't possible to address the question(s) without hearing your song and the song you "quoted."  Unless you can easily locate and want to ask the current owner(s), if any, for a license, I suggest you confer with a local copyright attorney for an analysis of the situation and advice.

 

 

On 1/20/2018 at 0:06 PM, augustosandino said:

The source song is over 70 years old.

 

This is only potentially relevant because it means the song was created when Copyright Act of 1909 (and not the Copyright Act of 1976, which is presently in effect) was in effect.

 

 

On 1/20/2018 at 0:06 PM, augustosandino said:

Both authors are deceased.

 

This isn't relevant at all.

 

 

On 1/20/2018 at 2:06 PM, adjusterjack said:

The authors' work is protected until the end of 2047

 

You couldn't possibly know that.  Section 303(a), which you quoted, expressly applies only to works "created before January 1, 1978, but not theretofore in the public domain or copyrighted."  While the OP told us that the song in question was, in fact, created before 1/1/78, we know nothing about the status of the song's copyright, if any, or public domain status as of that date.  If the song was properly copyrighted under the 1909 Act (which was in effect prior to 1/1/78 and under which "copyright" was properly used as a verb) and the copyright properly renewed, then section 303(a) would not be applicable.

 

 

On 1/20/2018 at 2:06 PM, adjusterjack said:

Citing the author doesn't change the fact that you are infringing and are subject to a lawsuit by the authors' heirs (who own the copyright).

 

While it is correct that "citing the author" doesn't negate infringement, we have no way of knowing whether the OP's work actually infringes the earlier work or whether the authors' heirs still own or ever did own the copyright.

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