Licensing info for Schubert Operas?

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  • Hi, I'm making a short film for a school project and am interested in using Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's singing of Der Erlkonig (by Goethe, arranged to opera by Schubert). It's a really powerful piece of music, and appears to be old enough that I'm not sure of the legality of using it in the film. How can I obtain the rights to use this song for a non-commercial venture? Please advise.
  • Reilly,

    Sounds like an interesting project!

    Before you go down the path of seeking permissions, you should review the following exception in US Copyright law, because it can be applied to student projects in some cases:

    Section 110. Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays

    If you do not fit the specifications detailed under Section 110, you may also look to Fair Use:

    Finally, if your use does not seem to fit under one of these exceptions, you will need to seek permission. Step one in this process is identifying the exact copyrighted work you wish to use. In your case, this question may be complex because there are often multiple rightsholders (and multiple works) in a music recording. While the Schubert arrangement may be out of copyright due to its age (not sure, just guessing), the recording of it made by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is likely to still be copyrighted.

    Finally, some helpful information about copyright issues for musical works can be found at the website of the Music Library Association; URL:
  • If the music will only be used of a school project (and not distributed elsewhere), my tendency would be to accept the use as fair. -Carrie Russell

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