Copyrights: the labyrinth explained


So far as reproduction is concerned one might expect John Fould's work and writings to be out of copyright by now, but due to an odd set of circumstances where specific cut-off points were defined for new British copyright legislation, this is not the case. In fact it appears that all creator-known manuscripts from the past century, both of music and of written text, are covered by copyright until at least the beginning of 2040. Foulds will be no exception - according to the British Library's own manuscript copyright information on the web, his writings would have reached the end of the 50-year-after-death span of the previous law, but due to new regulations [in 1989 (mysteriously precisely 50 years after the beginning of the Second World War) an extension was made to 70 years for works created before that date, and for artistic/creative works the same was applied to creators who died before 1969] all manuscripts within the cut-off remit of the revised law would remain in copyright until 31st December 2039. In the case of Foulds, the copyright owning estate was formerly referenced by Lewis Foreman, From Parry to Britten: British Music in Letters 1900 - 1945 (London, 1987) as 2 Brasier Court, Minster, Sheerness, Kent, ME12 3PW. The records of the British Library, however, show that the estate passed to Mrs Marybride Watt who made arrangements that Mr Graham Hatton be given powers to make whatever copyright decisions he felt necessary. Since her death in 1988 this agreement is still legally recognised by the British Library, BBC, MCPS, PRS and other organisations. Mr Hatton works regularly with performers, making readable versions of manuscript scores and parts for concerts and recordings, and encourages both. He does not have e-mail, so must be contacted by post at:

262 Kings Drive
East Sussex
BN21 2XD

Phone/fax: 01323 503805

If you need to contact, please remember that he does not specialise only in Foulds' music.

Printed music

UK copyright laws state that a published work remains copyright for 70 years from the death of the final contributor. An instrumental work published in Foulds's lifetime will therefore be in copyright until the beginning of 2010. A vocal work may have to take into account the rights of the poet or lyricist; new editions perhaps an editor; arrangements an arranger; and even a reprint or facsimile will add 25 years. To get permission to copy for any reason, one must apply to the publisher. These days many of the old independent publishers no longer exist but their rights have normally been acquired by larger companies. The Music Publishers Association (UK) is a good place to start to find out who owns the rights and how to contact them.

Recorded music

The right to reproduce or distribute recorded music is bound not only by the 'carrier' (a recording is in copyright for 50 years after its release), but also by the rights of the performer(s) and of the printed or manuscript music they are using. This makes for a very confusing time assessing whether or not a recorded work is out of copyright, but normally permission to reproduce is best applied to the company/label which produced produced it, since the legal contracts referring to performers rights and music performed should have been finalised at the point of release. For an authoratative interpretation of the current standing laws, see the copyright section of the British Library Sound Archive's 'Charge Services' page.