|Royalty Free Music > Music News > Resource for Public Domain MP3s
August 10th, 2007
To describe the many public domain MP3s and royalty free music tracks available for download in the royalty free music library at www.RoyaltyFreeMusic.com , we considered producing a video spoof of Disney's Steamboat Willie featuring founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as the bad guys who try to knock off Mickey. That's a pretty weird plot-line in theory, but it's not far from the "clash-of-American-icons" playing out in US Congress lately.
First, the good news for digital media producers looking for production music:
Any piece of music written before 1923 can be arranged, recorded, sold and distributed without paying any fees to the original author -- period. That is pretty much the closest thing to copyright-free music that exists.
That's especially good news for digital media producers with the means to produce their own arrangements of songs in the public domain. Be assured that absolutely no nasty attorney will contact you for plunking out the hippest version of "Deck The Halls" ever recorded on your Casio keyboard, posting it on iTunes and outselling Eminem, Dixie Chicks and Ricky Martin combined with your spine-tingling public domain MP3s.
*For the record, the public domain and royalty free music songs available in our production music library were NOT performed on a Casio keyboard, but rather with live professional musicians who make a living doing this stuff.
Also pleased with this arrangement, no doubt would be none other than Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who so flourishingly wrote of their copyright philosophy:
"He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me … Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."
Luckily our countrymen ancestors realized this view was somewhat Utopian. Realizing that American ingenuity would need an economic kick in the pants, they created the Copyright Act, which granted a copyright holder a grand total of 14 years to exploit and monetize a copyrighted work before it would enter the public domain and, well, "light more tapers".
Now, the bad news for digital media producers:
It is quite plausible that most copyrighted works created after 1923 will never enter public domain. That adds up to a lot of public domain mp3s that will never be created.
This legislative likelihood would have been quite unfortunate (had it been in effect) for William Shakespeare, who derived Romeo and Juliet from Arthur Brooke's poem Romeus and Juliet (1562). It also would have created a huge roadblock for the Walt Disney Company, who used nineteenth century public domain works as the basis for many of their popular animated films as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Pinocchio.
The revenues earned by these films, in fact gave Disney enough lobbying power to back the "Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act", which ironically prohibits anyone from using the storyline of "Steamboat Willie" (the first popular film featuring Mickey Mouse) exactly the way Disney used the storylines of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Alice in Wonderland, and The Jungle Book.
Disney single-handed re-wrote the book on public domain to protect their brand, thus propelling most other copyrighted works created after 1923. Those production music songs won't be available as public domain mp3s anytime before 2023, assuming the Walt Disney Co. doesn't utilize revenue from Toy Story to steamroll that date even later.
In summary, while the royalty free music library at www.royaltyfreemusic.com features a plethora of public domain mp3s available for licensing and purchase, we will not be producing a video spoof of Disney's Steamboat Willie featuring founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as the bad guys who try to knock off Mickey. We'll just stick with producing excellent recorded versions of hymns, Christmas songs, patriotic songs and making those production music recordings available to digital media makers everywhere for a one-time fee. Stay tuned.