snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > SLC Central > Moot Court

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09 June 2013, 05:16 AM
Morwen Edhelwen's Avatar
Morwen Edhelwen Morwen Edhelwen is offline
 
 
Join Date: 24 April 2013
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 160
Default "I'll See You In C-U-B-A": songs from the 1920s and copyright

So I'm planning a full-scale revision/continuation of Cuba Libre, a sci-fi novel I began last year. It's the one with the clone of Che, which is a deconstruction of Evita. In the first few pages, a character sings part of I'll See You In C-U-B-A, a song written in 1920. Some posters on here have probably heard it.

Here are the lyrics, typed from memory:
Quote:

I'll See You In C-U-B-A
(Irving Berlin)

Not so far from here,
There's a very lively atmosphere.
Everybody's going there this year,
And there's a reason.
The season opened last July,
Ever since the USA went dry,
Everybody's going there and I'm going too.

Chorus:
I'm on my way to Cuba, there's where I'm going,
Cuba, there's where I'll stay,
Cuba, where wine is flowing,
And where dark-eyed Stellas
Light their fellas' panatellas,

Cuba, where all is happy,
Cuba, where all is gay.
Why don't you plan a
Wonderful trip to Havana,
And I'll see you in C-U-B-A

Take a friend's advice;
Drinking in a cellar isn't nice,
Anybody who has got the price
Should be a Cuban;
Have you been longing for the 'smile'
That you haven't had in quite a while?
If you have, then follow me
And I'll show the way.

(Chorus)
I quoted the first two lines of the first verse to symbolise American ideas about Cuba; a tropical paradise with beautiful girls (for straight men and lesbians) and handsome men (for straight women and gay men), rum, and cigars. Plus in the context of the story the song is played in a tourist ad. (It does sound like a tourist ad if you look at the chorus)

I really don't want to get sued for this if it turns out my book is publishable, so from what research I've done, songs and other things published before 1922 are in public domain, which would mean that ISYIC is in public domain. Am I right that stuff written in the US before the 1920s is automatically public domain?

Last edited by Morwen Edhelwen; 09 June 2013 at 05:46 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 09 June 2013, 05:59 AM
Morwen Edhelwen's Avatar
Morwen Edhelwen Morwen Edhelwen is offline
 
 
Join Date: 24 April 2013
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 160
Default

One recording of "I'll See You In C-U-B-A" uploaded to Youtube. Sung by Jack Kaufman in 1920.

A site I found discussing the public domain.

Last edited by Morwen Edhelwen; 09 June 2013 at 06:24 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 09 June 2013, 06:51 AM
DaGuyWitBluGlasses DaGuyWitBluGlasses is offline
 
Join Date: 06 June 2006
Location: Toronto, ON
Posts: 1,333
Default

Irving Berlin lived until 1989. So it would not be public domain in most of the world outside of the US.

Although early sound recordings are public domain in Australia, the actual song itself, and lyrics, is not.

Last edited by DaGuyWitBluGlasses; 09 June 2013 at 06:57 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 09 June 2013, 07:10 AM
Morwen Edhelwen's Avatar
Morwen Edhelwen Morwen Edhelwen is offline
 
 
Join Date: 24 April 2013
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 160
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaGuyWitBluGlasses View Post
Irving Berlin lived until 1989. So it would not be public domain in most of the world outside of the US.

Although early sound recordings are public domain in Australia, the actual song itself, and lyrics, is not.
But Australia does recognise the "rule of the shorter term" applying to works published outside Australia.

Although Wiki says "only for published editions."

Last edited by Morwen Edhelwen; 09 June 2013 at 07:27 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 09 June 2013, 07:48 AM
Morwen Edhelwen's Avatar
Morwen Edhelwen Morwen Edhelwen is offline
 
 
Join Date: 24 April 2013
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 160
Default

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/c...68133/s32.html

Copyright only still exists if the creator was an Australian citizen or resident at the time the work was created.

Last edited by Morwen Edhelwen; 09 June 2013 at 07:56 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 09 June 2013, 08:04 AM
DaGuyWitBluGlasses DaGuyWitBluGlasses is offline
 
Join Date: 06 June 2006
Location: Toronto, ON
Posts: 1,333
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morwen Edhelwen View Post
But Australia does recognise the "rule of the shorter term" applying to works published outside Australia.

Although Wiki says "only for published editions."
I understand that to be:
-if you found sheet music from 1920-22 you could scan it and include the picture in your book.

Performances of the song on the other hand are still subject to royalties.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morwen Edhelwen View Post
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/c...68133/s32.html

Copyright only still exists if the creator was an Australian citizen or resident at the time the work was created.
Which is contradicted by:

http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=182705

Quote:
...(a) in the same way as the provision applies, under the Act, in
relation to an Australian resident; and
(b) as if the foreign resident were an Australian resident
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 09 June 2013, 08:57 AM
Morwen Edhelwen's Avatar
Morwen Edhelwen Morwen Edhelwen is offline
 
 
Join Date: 24 April 2013
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 160
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaGuyWitBluGlasses View Post
I understand that to be:
-if you found sheet music from 1920-22 you could scan it and include the picture in your book.

Performances of the song on the other hand are still subject to royalties.



Which is contradicted by:

http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=182705
So it contradicts itself. OTOH, other places do mention that Australia follows the rule of the shorter term but don't mention exceptions.

Last edited by Morwen Edhelwen; 09 June 2013 at 09:11 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 09 June 2013, 12:51 PM
Brad from Georgia's Avatar
Brad from Georgia Brad from Georgia is offline
 
Join Date: 21 June 2000
Location: Snellvile, GA
Posts: 13,185
Default

The lyricist was Billy Murray, and the ASCAP registration page does not indicate that "I'll See You in C-U-B-A" is currently under registration in either Murray's or Berlin's name, which means that ASCAP probably wouldn't come after you.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 09 June 2013, 01:28 PM
Morwen Edhelwen's Avatar
Morwen Edhelwen Morwen Edhelwen is offline
 
 
Join Date: 24 April 2013
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 160
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
The lyricist was Billy Murray, and the ASCAP registration page does not indicate that "I'll See You in C-U-B-A" is currently under registration in either Murray's or Berlin's name, which means that ASCAP probably wouldn't come after you.
Brad, that's good news, but are you sure the lyrics were by Billy Murray? The sheet music I have just says "By Irving Berlin." Also, when I search for ''I'll See You In C-U-B-A'' on ASCAP it doesn't turn up, even if I type ''I'll See You In Cuba,'' so I'm curious-- how did you manage to find it? It doesn't turn up on BMI or SESAC either. On Google Books, searching for the song in a Billy Murray discography says "w/m Irving Berlin."

Last edited by Morwen Edhelwen; 09 June 2013 at 01:42 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 09 June 2013, 07:27 PM
Brad from Georgia's Avatar
Brad from Georgia Brad from Georgia is offline
 
Join Date: 21 June 2000
Location: Snellvile, GA
Posts: 13,185
Default

My mistake--Murray was the tenor who SANG it. I misread a description. However, ASCAP doesn't show the song as registered to Berlin, either, so they dont claim authority over it.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 09 June 2013, 07:48 PM
musicgeek's Avatar
musicgeek musicgeek is online now
 
Join Date: 01 August 2005
Location: Fairfield, CT
Posts: 5,684
Default

Copyright is held by the Irving Berlin Music Company.

The lyric is copyright 2000 by The Estate of Irving Berlin.

However, you may be able to simply request permission without too much hassle, and provide the appropriate credit (along with "Used by permission") when published. Heck, Stephen King quotes rock lyrics all the time.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 09 June 2013, 10:58 PM
Morwen Edhelwen's Avatar
Morwen Edhelwen Morwen Edhelwen is offline
 
 
Join Date: 24 April 2013
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 160
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by musicgeek View Post
Copyright is held by the Irving Berlin Music Company.

The lyric is copyright 2000 by The Estate of Irving Berlin.

However, you may be able to simply request permission without too much hassle, and provide the appropriate credit (along with "Used by permission") when published. Heck, Stephen King quotes rock lyrics all the time.
Hang on, I thought things published before 1922-1923 were public domain in the US. http://homepages.law.asu.edu/~dkarja...in/pdlist.html

Quote:
1920-1921 (entered public domain Jan. 1, 1996 or 1997)
http://www.unc.edu/~unclng/public-d.htm

Quote:
Published before 1923 In public domain None
I've seen copyright renewed on that song before, but searching on "renewed copyrights public domain" all turn up that you can't renew a PD work's copyright. But they do say that if a work published in 1923 wasn't renewed in the 28th year of its copyright term, it's now in the public domain.

http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm

http://Copyright Term and the Public... of this year.

Last edited by Morwen Edhelwen; 09 June 2013 at 11:27 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 09 June 2013, 11:32 PM
Morwen Edhelwen's Avatar
Morwen Edhelwen Morwen Edhelwen is offline
 
 
Join Date: 24 April 2013
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 160
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morwen Edhelwen View Post
Hang on, I thought things published before 1922-1923 were public domain in the US. http://homepages.law.asu.edu/~dkarja...in/pdlist.html



http://www.unc.edu/~unclng/public-d.htm



I've seen copyright renewed on that song before, but searching on "renewed copyrights public domain" all turn up that you can't renew a PD work's copyright. But they do say that if a work published in 1923 wasn't renewed in the 28th year of its copyright term, it's now in the public domain.

http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm

http://Copyright Term and the Public... of this year.
*at least for American works.* Can someone confirm that the information I found on all those legal sites (and believe me I spent a lot of time researching this the first time around, and there are heaps of sites on how to tell if stuff is public domain in the US) is basically correct?

Last edited by Morwen Edhelwen; 09 June 2013 at 11:45 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 10 June 2013, 12:08 AM
Morwen Edhelwen's Avatar
Morwen Edhelwen Morwen Edhelwen is offline
 
 
Join Date: 24 April 2013
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 160
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morwen Edhelwen View Post
Hang on, I thought things published before 1922-1923 were public domain in the US. http://homepages.law.asu.edu/~dkarja...in/pdlist.html



http://www.unc.edu/~unclng/public-d.htm



I've seen copyright renewed on that song before, but searching on "renewed copyrights public domain" all turn up that you can't renew a PD work's copyright. But they do say that if a work published in 1923 wasn't renewed in the 28th year of its copyright term, it's now in the public domain.

http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm

http://Copyright Term and the Public... of this year.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morwen Edhelwen View Post
*at least for American works.* Can someone confirm that the information I found on all those legal sites (and believe me I spent a lot of time researching this the first time around, and there are heaps of sites on how to tell if stuff is public domain in the US) is basically correct?
Also, there are no exceptions mentioned- no, "All works first published in the US before 1922 or 1923 are in public domain if..." Americans here, correct me if I'm wrong, though.

Last edited by Morwen Edhelwen; 10 June 2013 at 12:14 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 10 June 2013, 12:53 AM
Brad from Georgia's Avatar
Brad from Georgia Brad from Georgia is offline
 
Join Date: 21 June 2000
Location: Snellvile, GA
Posts: 13,185
Default

I suspect the copyright was renewed in 1948 by Berlin . . . and then again in 1976, which allowed his estate to renew it in 2000.

Good luck with it. I once wanted to quote two lines of a song in one of my novels, tracked down the copyright holder, and was told that the price for my using the two lines would be eight thousand dollars, which was more than I was getting as an advance on the book. I found a way around it by referring to the song by the title alone and letting the reader imagine the lyrics....
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 10 June 2013, 01:08 AM
Morwen Edhelwen's Avatar
Morwen Edhelwen Morwen Edhelwen is offline
 
 
Join Date: 24 April 2013
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 160
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morwen Edhelwen View Post
Also, there are no exceptions mentioned- no, "All works first published in the US before 1922 or 1923 are in public domain if..." Americans here, correct me if I'm wrong, though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
I suspect the copyright was renewed in 1948 by Berlin . . . and then again in 1976, which allowed his estate to renew it in 2000.

Good luck with it. I once wanted to quote two lines of a song in one of my novels, tracked down the copyright holder, and was told that the price for my using the two lines would be eight thousand dollars, which was more than I was getting as an advance on the book. I found a way around it by referring to the song by the title alone and letting the reader imagine the lyrics....
@Brad: Strangely, that hasn't been mentioned anywhere on the sites I've found. (Not just legal sites, but writers' blogs as well- this question of "Can I use song lyrics in my story?" is quite common).

Also, where did you find the ASCAP page for the song? Can you post the link, please?

Last edited by Morwen Edhelwen; 10 June 2013 at 01:30 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 10 June 2013, 07:26 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
Join Date: 04 November 2005
Location: Borlänge, Sweden
Posts: 11,580
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morwen Edhelwen View Post
I quoted the first two lines of the first verse to symbolise American ideas about Cuba; a tropical paradise with beautiful girls (for straight men and lesbians) and handsome men (for straight women and gay men), rum, and cigars. Plus in the context of the story the song is played in a tourist ad. (It does sound like a tourist ad if you look at the chorus)
Small snippets like that is considered fair use, and you don't need permission. Small quotes like that are very common in literature, as flavour text, intro to chapter or just to get something to hang up the story on. No problems with that. Just don't name the book after the song, and you'll be fine.

Even if it wasn't fair use, a small snippet like that wouldn't pass the threshold of originality anyway.

You could, possibly, but not prabably, get in trouble if you publish the entire text. I strongly doubt that will happen, though. If you want to make sure, ask for permission to do that. Chances are good that they will grant it, on the off chance that it might make the song popular again.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 10 June 2013, 11:01 AM
Morwen Edhelwen's Avatar
Morwen Edhelwen Morwen Edhelwen is offline
 
 
Join Date: 24 April 2013
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 160
Default

And actually, after asking about possible substitute songs on Mudcat folk music forum, what Irving Berlin may have copyrighted in 1945 (!) (off by three years, Brad!) was a substantial revision of the song, with an alternate second and third verse:
Quote:
Why don't you do your drinking like a Cuban,
Instead of hiding in a cellar?
Since Prohibition tell me pal, have you been
A very frightened little feller?

Why don't you pour it from the bottle,
'Stead of a tiny silver flask,
Drink your Scotch, rum, and gin,
Where the dries can't get in,

The finest bars are there, cigars are there,
That only are made in Cuba.

I'm not a drinking lady, I never smoked a Panatella
But I'm a she who likes to be where all is gay, okay!
So let us leave our cares and troubles behind
And tell 'em our new address
Is where they stay up late and drink till they're blind,
Blind, but nevertheless
They're glad to see you in C.U.B.A.


and a noticeably different ending-- a coda:
Why don't you travel with us
On a train or a bus
To Miami where we can begin to plan a
Wonderful trip on a plane or ship
That'll take us from Florida to Havana.
See you in C-U-B-A!
These verses weren't a part of the 1920 version. The full original sheet music appears in collections like the Levy Sheet Music Collection and the Duke University American Memory Sheet Music Collection, which don't show full sheet music for songs still in copyright. Clicking on certain song titles in the Levy Collection gets you a notice that they are not available to display because of copyright problems, or sometimes a small portion.

Last edited by Morwen Edhelwen; 10 June 2013 at 11:16 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 10 June 2013, 11:12 AM
Brad from Georgia's Avatar
Brad from Georgia Brad from Georgia is offline
 
Join Date: 21 June 2000
Location: Snellvile, GA
Posts: 13,185
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Morwen Edhelwen View Post
@Brad: Strangely, that hasn't been mentioned anywhere on the sites I've found. (Not just legal sites, but writers' blogs as well- this question of "Can I use song lyrics in my story?" is quite common).

Also, where did you find the ASCAP page for the song? Can you post the link, please?
Sure thing: https://www.ascap.com/Home/ace-title-search/index.aspx

If the song's copyright was renewed in 1945--even if it was in a revised version--the song as a whole and in its original state remained under copyright.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 10 June 2013, 01:51 PM
Morwen Edhelwen's Avatar
Morwen Edhelwen Morwen Edhelwen is offline
 
 
Join Date: 24 April 2013
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 160
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
Sure thing: https://www.ascap.com/Home/ace-title-search/index.aspx

If the song's copyright was renewed in 1945--even if it was in a revised version--the song as a whole and in its original state remained under copyright.

Can't find anything by searching under the title.

I believe the song was still in copyright in 1945. It didn't expire until 1948, because originally US copyright lasted for 28 years starting from the year of first publication, and then you could renew it again. I'm pretty sure he just revised the song and it was used in the movie. The revision was automatically copyrighted to Berlin when he did it because ISYIC itself was still in copyright.

BTW, Alexander's Ragtime Band is on HFA as well, and I know that that one's in public domain.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
SC Republican Fiercely Opposes "North American Union" and the "Amero" Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue Sightings 13 01 June 2008 12:46 AM
"Winkie Chant" in "The Wizard of Oz" E. Q. Taft Entertainment 18 23 May 2008 01:57 AM
Origin of "the easy way" and "the hard way" robbiev Language 12 26 September 2007 06:21 AM
"Colors" "Box of Crayons" Glurge Capri Glurge Gallery 22 08 June 2007 09:14 AM


All times are GMT. The time now is 01:49 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.