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Royalty free classical music - usable in films?


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#1 Niall Conroy

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 12:56 PM

Hey guys,

just wondering if anyone knows what the story is with using out-of-copyright classical music in films - i know the actual music (i.e. compositions, are royalty free) however i do understand one cant just take a current day orchestras performance of the royalty free piece, one might have to pay 'mechanical royalties' in said situation.

I read somewhere that no sound recording made in the US prior to 1972 has (or will ever have) any federal copyright protection - so would this mean I could potentially find a recorded performance of the classical piece I want and use it with no copyright problems?

also, I have seen websites that seems to sell single songs for $32'ish - once bought are these freely usable in ones film?

thanks for any info!
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#2 Tony Koretz

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 08:31 PM

a)Your assumption that you cannot just take a recording by a current day orchestra without obtaining permission, and use it in your film is correct.
b)However, your assumption that sound recordings made prior to 1972 having no copyright protection is however incorrect. Many performing rights,mechanical rights and phonographic rights extend back much further than that.
c) Websites that sell licenses to use recordings Royalty-free grant you license to use those recordings in your production at no further cost. This may be newly composed and recorded songs, or recordings of public domain songs that they have the rights to distribute.
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#3 Niall Conroy

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 07:16 PM

a)Your assumption that you cannot just take a recording by a current day orchestra without obtaining permission, and use it in your film is correct.
b)However, your assumption that sound recordings made prior to 1972 having no copyright protection is however incorrect. Many performing rights,mechanical rights and phonographic rights extend back much further than that.
c) Websites that sell licenses to use recordings Royalty-free grant you license to use those recordings in your production at no further cost. This may be newly composed and recorded songs, or recordings of public domain songs that they have the rights to distribute.


that's great news - Tony. Thanks.

So i guess pretty much every website that is selling their own recordings of these classical pieces - if i were to buy one of the pieces, i'd have full rights to put it into my film and put it into festivals etc. without worry of copyrights etc.?

would you recommend or know of any note worthy websites/companies in particular?
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#4 Tony Koretz

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 05:41 PM

that's great news - Tony. Thanks.

So i guess pretty much every website that is selling their own recordings of these classical pieces - if i were to buy one of the pieces, i'd have full rights to put it into my film and put it into festivals etc. without worry of copyrights etc.?

would you recommend or know of any note worthy websites/companies in particular?



Yes that is correct. Just check the licenses at the websites where you find the music because the terms of the license may vary a bit from site to site. Our website has quite a bit of royalty-free music on it, though the selection of classical music is not particularly large http://rocksuresoundz.com. Also try this site where you will likely find quite a bit more: www.productiontrax.com

Hope that helps

Edited by Tony Koretz, 15 March 2012 - 05:41 PM.

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#5 Niall Conroy

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 08:03 AM

Yes that is correct. Just check the licenses at the websites where you find the music because the terms of the license may vary a bit from site to site. Our website has quite a bit of royalty-free music on it, though the selection of classical music is not particularly large http://rocksuresoundz.com. Also try this site where you will likely find quite a bit more: www.productiontrax.com

Hope that helps


Many thanks, Tony. I'll give these a look!
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