Unpublished Canadian Manuscript

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SongEditor
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Unpublished Canadian Manuscript

Postby SongEditor » Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:45 pm

I am in the process of doing some research on Canadian song and came across a 1955 unpublished manuscript of songs. The composer is deceased, has no heirs, and donated all of her manuscripts to a library in Quebec. I am interested in having them engraved so that I can "resurrect" the songs from obscurity - publishing them could ensure future performances. What are my options in terms of securing permission? Is it up to the library? (There is no money to be made here - the only interest is for scholarly/artistic endeavors.) Thanks for your help.

Sallen112
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Re: Unpublished Canadian Manuscript

Postby Sallen112 » Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:33 pm

First question what is her death date?

The reason I ask above is if she died more than 50 years ago (1965 and before) then their is no issue and can be uploaded onto the Canadian server (would still be copyrighted in the USA and the EU). If she did die less than 50 years ago, this could be an issue legally speaking.

Here is a very old posting on another thread from around 8 years ago written by our copyright expert that explains this sort of question you asked in more detail, Carolus (I myself am pretty limited in the understanding of the full scope of copyright, I only know and understand so many details!):

Carolus wrote:From the legal point of view manuscripts fall into three categories:

1) Works that have been published - in any form - more than 25 years ago.
2) Works first published less than 25 years ago.
3) Works never previously published.

For category one - manuscripts of works that have been previously published - the library has no claim whatsoever under Canada's law. I seriously doubt any sort of claim would hold much water in a EU court, though different countries have other laws regarding the duplication of manuscript holdings in libraries. This would appear to conflict with copyright law in many cases, however. (While stating they aren't claiming copyright, they claim a "right of reproduction" that is somehow not a copyright even though it functions exactly like a copyright.)

Manuscripts of works only first published less than 25 years ago (Category 2) in most of the EU - or less than 50 years ago if published in Canada - are probably not OK to post at IMSLP without written permission.

Category 3 is somewhat complicated. By posting a previously unpublished work on IMSLP, it is most likely you have in fact published it - deliberately injecting the work into the Public Domain. IMSLP is in favor of this position for works of composers dead more than 70 years. A rather strange situation has arisen in recent times with the first publication of recently discovered works from composers long dead whereby people other than the composer's descendants or legal heirs lay claim to copyright for 25 years (in most of the EU) or even 50 years (Canada) or even longer. The USA (for once) addressed this issue very effectively by injecting all unpublished material of authors dead more than 70 years into the public domain on 1/1/2003.

Under the EU's Editio Princeps rule, a library could conceivably make a claim to publication rights in the genuinely unpublished manuscript material in their possession. For that matter, if the long-dead composer has legal heirs (most likely descendants), they might have an even stronger claim to a publication right. We will need more discussion of this issue and its ramifications.

SongEditor
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Re: Unpublished Canadian Manuscript

Postby SongEditor » Mon Oct 31, 2016 11:55 pm

Thank you. She died in 1968... Does this mean I need to wait two years, or can the library's permission expedite things?

Carolus
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Re: Unpublished Canadian Manuscript

Postby Carolus » Tue Dec 13, 2016 7:00 pm

The permission of the copyright holder can expedite things. The work can be released under Creative Commons which will cover things worldwide.


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