Q. How can I find out if a song is in the Public Domain?
A. First read this article to gain an understanding of when exactly a song becomes Public Domain property:
When Does Music Become Public Domain?
Next, to research any particular song, it is generally best to run a search for the track's title at Wikipedia.com, and then, if necessary, visit various subsequent web sites to find more information.
For example, in
a recent search for the song "Stormy Weather," below are the websites
we searched to determine whether the track was now in Public Domain. In our search at Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stormy_Weather_(song), the song “Stormy Weather,” the songwriter(s) are Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler.
go to the Harry Fox web site, here: http://www.harryfox.com/songfile/public/publicsearch.do
and search by entering the author and song title. It looks
like “Stormy Weather” is still under copyright by a company named S.A. Music.
Or alternately, this site may list whether a song is Public Domain:
Additional sites that may have more information about any particular track are the following:
ASCAP ACE Database