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  1. #1
    bluebliss is offline Junior Member
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    Copyrighting a work that includes a compilation

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? NY
    I am producing a musical project that includes a new musical composition, with lyrics that are a compilation/rearrangement of public domain texts. We tried to copyright this piece by listing the composer as author of the music, and me as the text arranger. The copyright office responded that since I used rearranged public domain text, I can't copyright that part of the piece. But I read that you can copyright compilations of previously written material, so I would think this qualifies. How would we approach that with the US patent office.... would we copyright the music and text as separate entities, or copyright the whole piece, text and music, as a compilation? Can we both list ourselves as authors in that case?
  2. #2
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    They did not say you cannot copyright your work. They said you cannot claim a copyright on the portions of the work that are in the public domain. There is nothing you can do to change that. You simply cannot own the copyrights on work that cannot be copyrighted
  3. #3
    bluebliss is offline Junior Member
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    yes but

    Quote Originally Posted by justalayman View Post
    They did not say you cannot copyright your work. They said you cannot claim a copyright on the portions of the work that are in the public domain. There is nothing you can do to change that. You simply cannot own the copyrights on work that cannot be copyrighted
    Yes but what about copyrighting the arrangement as a Compilation? I have read that you can do that...
  4. #4
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    the compilation as a complete work may be able to be registered (that is a separate issue). Even if you are granted a copyright on the compilation, you have no copyright ownership and as such, protection on the individual work sourced from the public domain.

    That is what you asked about in your original question, is it not?



    103 . Subject matter of copyright: Compilations and derivative works

    (a) The subject matter of copyright as specified by section 102 includes compilations and derivative works, but protection for a work employing preexisting material in which copyright subsists does not extend to any part of the work in which such material has been used unlawfully.

    (b) The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work, and does not imply any exclusive right in the preexisting material. The copyright in such work is independent of, and does not affect or enlarge the scope, duration, ownership, or subsistence of, any copyright protection in the preexisting material.
    Last edited by justalayman; 06-13-2013 at 01:40 PM.
  5. #5
    bluebliss is offline Junior Member
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    Compilation

    Quote Originally Posted by justalayman View Post
    the compilation as a complete work may be able to be registered (that is a separate issue). Even if you are granted a copyright on the compilation, you have no copyright ownership and as such, protection on the individual work sourced from the public domain.

    That is what you asked about in your original question, is it not?
    No, I was asking if I could copyright the particular arrangement/compilation I made for this artwork. I know the original material is in the public domain and I have no desire to claim ownership of that, just want to protect my arrangement of it.
  6. #6
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    ok, so what is your question then? The only issue you stated the copyright office had was this:


    . The copyright office responded that since I used rearranged public domain text, I can't copyright that part of the piece.


    is there any original text involved or is it all sourced from public domain works?
    Last edited by justalayman; 06-13-2013 at 01:58 PM.
  7. #7
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    here is an excerpt from another site that might help:



    The published compiled volume should include two different notices to effectively comply with the Copyright Act. There should be a compilation notice (which protects the author/compiler) and separate authorial notices for the included works (which protect the contributors). (As a separate note, materials included in a compilation that have fallen into the public domain, poetry and short stories for example, do not spring back to copyright life or in any way benefit a deceased author’s estate. -f
    It would appear you failed to provide the authorial notices for the outsourced material based on your original post.
  8. #8
    bluebliss is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by justalayman View Post
    here is an excerpt from another site that might help:





    It would appear you failed to provide the authorial notices for the outsourced material based on your original post.
    Thanks for all your help; I'm going to try copyrighting the text arrangement again, as a compilation this time, and taking into account the things you've said and what I've been reading since. I guess my original mistake was to list myself as an author, but this was my first time using the copyright site and I was a bit confused by the options.
    Thanks again!
  9. #9
    justalayman is offline Senior Member
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    there is a lot of information readily available. The Copyright office publishes tons of information on their site that is quite readable without needing an interpreter.

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