I have consolidated and updated this post from older posts of mine:
The concept of the Public Domain all songs before 1926 and on January 1st, 2022 known as Public Domain Day that changes to 1927
I quoted and paraphrased Wikipedia
Pubic Domain consists of all the creative works to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, expressly waived, or may be inapplicable.
This means the public owns these works, not an individual author or artist as copyright law dictates. With correct research, anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it.
Here are some invaluable tools to understanding and finding Entertainment in the Public Domain:
I found this @ Stanford University
Summed up the research required: There are four common ways that works arrive in the public domain:
- the copyright has expired (MY FAVORITE)
- the copyright owner failed to follow copyright renewal rules
- the copyright owner deliberately places it in the public domain, known as “dedication,” or
- copyright law does not protect this type of work.
The Ten Commandments, directed by Cecil B. DeMille
The Pilgrim, directed by Charlie Chaplin
Our Hospitality, directed by Buster Keaton and John G. Blystone
The Covered Wagon, directed by James Cruze
Scaramouche, directed by Rex Ingram
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan and the Golden Lion
Agatha Christie, The Murder on the Links
Winston S. Churchill, The World Crisis
e.e. cummings, Tulips and Chimneys
Robert Frost, New Hampshire
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Aldous Huxley, Antic Hay
D.H. Lawrence, Kangaroo
Elmer Rice, The Adding Machine
Bertrand and Dora Russell, The Prospects of Industrial Civilization
Carl Sandberg, Rootabaga Pigeons
Edith Wharton, A Son at the Front
P.G. Wodehouse, works including The Inimitable Jeeves and Leave it to Psmith
These timeless works of art contribute to mankind, and can be republished or used for free by any member of the public.
Holiday songs that ARE in the Public Domain.
Or written before 1926 and yours to use for free!
See the disclaimer below this list.
- Angels We Have Heard On High
- Auld Lang Syne
- Away In A Manger
- Coventry Carol
- Deck The Halls
- For Unto Us
- Go Tell It On The Mountain
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Good King Wenceslas
- Hallelujah Chorus
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
- Here We Come A-Caroling (Wassail Song)
- I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
- I Saw Three Ships
- In The Bleak Midwinter
- It Came Upon The Midnight Clear
- Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
- Jingle Bells
- Jolly Old St. Nicholas
- Joy To The World not the Three Dog Night version
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- O Come O Come Emmanuel
- O Holy Night
- O Little Town Of Bethlehem
- Once In Royal David’s City
- Silent Night
- The First Noel
- The Twelve Days of Christmas
- Up On The Housetop
- We Three Kings
- We Wish You A Merry Christmas
- What Child Is This
But the performance by someone done recently would require permission to use in a video or any other use of that performance.
So you will be liable if you post a performance of a public domain song composed after 1925. Although Silent Night was written before 1925 , this is a perfect example of a song performance of a public domain song not being “royality-free” Youtube must pay who ever has the rights for this performance by The Temptations. I suggest using your own version of one of these songs to avoid any copyright hassles.