Is it possible to monitorize a video on YouTube where somebody is singing a folk song? 6 Answers as of December 02, 2013

Is it possible to copyright the performance of the song? As far as I can see 'folk songs' are not bound by copyright laws. Thank you.

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Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
Music is protected by two copyrights: one on the music composition and the other on the performance of that composition. It is possible for the composition copyright to have expired but the performance copyright to still be in existance. While much of the folk music genre is based on old tunes, a fair percentage of it is still protected.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 12/2/2013
Abts Law, LLC
Abts Law, LLC | Matthew Abts
Someone's performance of a folk song is copyright to that person even if the folk song is in the public domain, we protect the specific performance of the song by an artist. As for what you can do with YouTube videos, it's complicated and really depends on the details you'd probably want to make an appointment with an attorney and sit down for a conversation off the Internet so you can get some legal advice particular to your situation.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 12/2/2013
Roe Law Firm
Roe Law Firm | Theodore M. Roe
First, just because it is a folk song does not mean that it is not subject to copyright. Second, there is an analysis that must be done to determine whether the work is subject to copyright restrictions or whether it is in the public domain or subject to the fair use exception. However, generally speaking a copyright runs 70 years from the death of the author. Again, I recommend that you have a qualified entertainment attorney perform the appropriate analysis.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 11/27/2013
Bay Oak Law
Bay Oak Law | Andrew K Jacobson
I'm writing, assuming you mean "monetize," meaning make money from something. First, all original expression is protected by copyright as soon as it is "published," meaning made available to the public in general. Second, while some compositions are old enough to be in the public domain and thus not protected by copyright, a particular performance is still protected by copyright. Thus, while the ballad "Scarborough Fair" dates as least back to the 1700s (and probably much further back), thus putting the composition in the public domain, a particular performance of Scarborough Fair (e.g., Simon & Garfunkel's version), could still be subject to copyright and owned by the copyright holders. Before trying to monetize a work, make sure that you have the right to do so. Performances of folk songs are still subject to copyright, even if the underlying composition is in the public domain.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/27/2013
Lawyer for Indie Media
Lawyer for Indie Media | Sue Basko
I assume you mean "monetize," to put ads on the video. If a folk song is very old, it may be in the public domain. If it is in the public domain, you can record it or make videos as you will. You can find some sites online that list songs that are in the public domain. To make sure, you may want to consult with a lawyer. If you do find a folk song that is in the public domain and you do record it, yes, you can register copyright on your sound recording of the song.

Folk songs are bound to the same copyright laws as other songs. If the song is newer and is not yet in the public domain, then you must get a mechanical license to record your version of the song, and a synch license to make a video. If you have a legal version of the song on Youtube, you can monetize it. That will mean that the song you have chosen is either in the public domain, or that you have gotten a mechanical and synch license for it.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 12/2/2013
    Richard M. Gee, a PC
    Richard M. Gee, a PC | Richard M. Gee
    While the original song may be in the public domain, the video performance of the song can itself be registered for copyright.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 11/27/2013
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