So, you're releasing a song that you're pretty sure is in the public domain. What does that mean for your Soundrop release?
First of all, we'll need to define "Public Domain":
Usually, (and this is a big USUALLY) songs are in the public domain if the song was composed and the lyrics were written before January 1, 1926. However, specific arrangements may be copyrighted. The curious case of Carol of the Bells is a great example.
Carol of the Bells as we know the melody is a Ukranian Folk carol composed in 1916. So it's public domain, right?
Well, sort of! While the melody is public domain, the English lyrics were written in 1956 and ARE copyrighted. So your instrumental ocarina version - totally public domain. If the words "Hark How The Bells" are in there at all - that's a cover song. Weird, right?
To check the status of a song in the public domain, we recommend using pdinfo.com to see when the song was recorded. Do your best research, and when in doubt, mark your release as a cover. If our licensing folks determine that you're covering a song in the public domain, we'll let you know and refund your licensing fee.
**Songwriter information IS required for public domain works. If the songwriter is unknown, simply enter "Traditional Song" as the songwriter. If you're recording classical music please see our handy composer info guide here.
**When signing up a release in the Soundrop app, be sure to mark public domain songs as either "Public Domain" or "Original." Any composition written after 1927 should be marked as a cover.
What about public domain sounds/recordings?
We do not accept public domain recordings with no alteration. While a public domain recording CAN be used by you, we are of the opinion that these recordings should not be sold when they should be freely available.
However, if you're remixing public domain recordings to make a completely new work all your own, that's totally fine! You do still have to list the track as a public domain work.