At first glance, "I Wonder" is in the Public Domain because, according
to the U.S. Copyright Office, "Sound recordings fixed before February
15, 1972, are not eligible for federal copyright protection".
"Reproductions of sound recordings usually contain two different types
of creative works: the underlying musical, dramatic, or literary work
that is being performed or read and the fixation of the actual sounds
embodying the performance or reading. For protection of the underlying
musical or literary work embodied in a recording, it is not necessary
that a copyright notice covering this material appear on the
phonograph records or tapes on which the recording is reproduced. As
noted above, a special notice is required for protection of the
recording of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds that were
fixed on or after February 15, 1972. Sound recordings fixed before
February 15, 1972, are not eligible for federal copyright protection.
The Sound Recording Act of 1971, the present copyright law, and the
Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988 cannot be applied or be
construed to provide any retroactive protection for sound recordings
fixed before February 15, 1972. Such works, however, may be protected
by various state laws or doctrines of common law."
However, life is never simple especially concerning copyright issues,
and I suggest you read the following articles before deciding how to
Sound Recording Rule of Thumb:
There are NO sound recordings in the Public Domain.
Who Owns Pre-1972 Sound Recordings?
New York - Common Law Copyright Protects 50-Year Old Sound Recordings
"Even though sound recordings were ineligible for federal copyright
protection prior to 1972, New York has ruled that they are protected
by New York's common law:
The state's highest court ruled common law in New York "protects
ownership interests in sound recordings made before 1972 that are not
covered by the federal copyright act."
So, the most prudent course of action would be to get in touch with
MCA Music (which is now Universal Music).
Who to contact:
MCA Music Publishing is renamed Universal Music Publishing.
"If you would like to obtain rights to use a song or lyrics from a
song that is administered or published by Universal Music Publishing
Group you may contact UMPG?s Film & TV Licensing department at:
Fax: 310 /235-4905
Website: http://www.synchexpress.com or http://www.umpg.com
This has been very interesting to research and I hope I've been able
to help you move forward. If you have any questions, please post a
clarification request and wait for me to respond before closing/rating
Google Search Terms Used: mca copyright "sound recordings" "cecil
gant" "pre-1972" public domain