I get a lot of calls to my radio show asking if someone can use “classical” music in a film or podcast or something without permission since it’s so old. Seasoned listeners to Barely Legal Radio know that you can use the composition because it is in the public domain if it is from the classical period (1550 to 1900?) but you must get permission to use copyrighted recordings of these, or any works, regardless of whether they are in the public domain. Somehow this doesn’t sit well with some people.Dear asshole: have you ever been to a record store? Or a performance of anything orchestral? I'd guess not:
According to Richard Esguerra from The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group is “doing something about this “problem. The organization “Musopen” is raising money from “philanthropists” to create high quality digital recordings of works from masters such as Beethoven and Brahms so that they can “generously” donate these recordings to the public domain so that no one will have to worry about licensing recordings of them ever again.
Does this sound nice to you? If it does, you are forgetting one thing.You are forgetting that if these recordings have some commercial value it creates a market for them which not only employs musicians, it encourages better and better recordings and orchestrations that benefit all of society. Destroy their commercial value, and you destroy a lot more than you realize.
Is it that offensive to these people that musicians should get paid for mastering their chosen instruments and making the sacrifices necessary to become a professional? Or is it crazy if someone gets a return on an investment to undertake the enormous task of recording a 100 plus person orchestra? Carried to it’s logical conclusion, someday all classical recordings will be in the public domain so this faction of the recording industry can just shut down. Now you can tell your kids not to waste time learning the cello, because there’s no way to earn anything from the sacrifice, so don’t go to orchestra practice. It’s a waste of time.Classical music as a return on monetary investment: ho ho ho.
Back to the proposed donation of recordings:
When my late Uncle Frank used to hear stuff like this he used to blurt out, “That’s just plain old fashioned communism!” That may be naive but it’s all I can think of to explain the lunacy. My band played in communist East Germany once. I see a bland world of music coming if those ideas make a comeback. I still have nightmares about the “boiled wheat” they served us to celebrate our musical triumphs there.One thing about the Eastern Bloc: no classical music.