Knowledge Base Article: KB2027
Topic: FAQ - Content-Related Questions, Genre, Style, Public Domain, and Soundalike Issues

Title: How can I find out if a song is in the public domain?


Last Reviewed: Mar 20, 2013
Keywords:

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.

Next, 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:  

http://www.pdinfo.com/ 

Additional sites that may have more information about any particular track are the following:

ASCAP ACE Database
BMI Repertoire
http://creativecommons.org/about/what-is-cc 

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