Total posts : 45366
it is the general acceptance of the copyright legal community that there are NO sound recordings in the USA that are public domain until the year 2067. Of course there is debate on this, but that’s how it’s been shaking down the last couple years. A SONG from 1922 may be a public domain song, but there’s no actual SOUND RECORDING of that song that is PD, due to some quirks in copyright law. You can USE a public domain song, as long as you own the recording of, or the rights to a recording of that song.
Of course this often all comes down to interpretation, and how much risk you decide to take. A non-streaming part 15 station may get away with it forever. Maybe not. YOU can sing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” copyright free, you can even play the organ and accompany yourself, but you can’t use ANY existing sound recording of the song. HOWEVER (great example of quirks) be sure you’re singing the 1908 version of the lyrics! There were new lyrics written in 1927, and that version is NOT in the public domain!
Worth noting: The odds of getting caught, or being questioned, depend greatly on who might make trouble for you. this would apply about ANY legal matter of your part 15 station. Believe it or not, commercial stations may not like you broadcasting alternative radio choices — even if you’re not selling ads, you could be stealing some listeners. If they get curious, they may seek to shut you down over some technical detail, or will want to check your right to be broadcasting music. Same thing if you’re one of those stations who has decided to change the world with your politics and public policy rants. If you torque off the more conservative people, or the radicals if you’re in that sort of area, and they want to shut you up, they may seek a legal way to do so, so it’s always wise to be sure you’ve got your bases covered and are operating as legally as you can, and be able to show PRO’s (performance rights organizations), the FCC, and anyone else who may have to care, that you are clearly operating to the letter of the law as best you can, and can show a good faith effort to do it right.
Tim in Bovey