Copying Individual Songs from Compilations

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  • Hello everyone,

    I am an early twentieth-century blues fan and I would like to start a collection that can be shared with others. Many CD compilations contain recordings from before 1923 (by their own description). Can I legally take these individual recordings and share them, even though the CD says it is copyrighted? Obviously, there has been a media format change, as MP3s weren't around back then, but I doubt that's relevant. Also, the recordings do not appear to be interpretive--that is, it sounds like an original, someone scratchy recording. Thanks in advance,
  • This is tough, and I think would require talking to a lawyer if you plan to do something commercially. You've got to look at a few things. Does the CD compilation have copy protection measures? Would you be doing similar compilations to what the CDs have?
  • Thanks for the reply COvalle. I don't believe there would be any DRM on these songs since they are standard WAV files on a CD. My thinking is that if the CD publisher claims copyright on a song recorded before 1923, it is not valid, even if the format was shifted from vinyl to digital. There is no creative interpretation--these are clearly meant to replicate the original recording. That song is in the public domain and not subject to copyright law.

    There may be a different perspective when approaching it from the compilation point-of-view. It might not be legal for me to take a "collective" work and offer it to others, but I can't think of a reason I shouldn't be within my rights to freely copy a song on which the copyright has expired, no matter what the CD publisher says.

    Btw, my use would be non-commercial, although, again, that seems irrelevant. My interest is in sharing early blues with others to keep the music alive.

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