How to handle public domain?

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Consider for instance"public+domain"&type=annotation&method=indexed

My trigger for this question is 3 releases:

all having recordings marked expressly ‘public domain’, but I see no way of notating this other that by annotation, and find no guideline. There is no [public domain] special purpose label for ℗ relationship, and would ‘public domain’ be a relationship itself, it should pertain to an [all as none] special purpose artist (that should already have been needed → created and present, which it is not) or carry an exceptional 1-way of entity:recording—relationship:publicdomain[—entity:none] (which seems a technical dead end).

What is the preferred way of notating an entity being in ‘public domain’, and are we happy as is?

Public domain is not a label or (special purpose) artist, but a license. You can simply link the MB entity as to:

Bad idea, see below.

Thanks. It is also not an MB relationship, so how do I do that with a recording?

Edit: Probably by editing each recording (no batch-add available), adding as external link. Thanks again, but without scripts working I have not the time for suchdetail. Good for others to now, though.

Note that while the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license purports to put the licensed work into the public domain, it is not equal to being in the public domain (since not all jurisdictions recognise such a thing). Saying that something is licensed under CC0 if it’s not is misleading and incorrect. Please don’t do this.

(No, I don’t have an alternative solution. “license: public domain” as a folksonomy tag maybe (at least for now)?)


Also note that e.g. your example only mentions the word “public domain” in the booklet without any explanation.
That could mean any number of things. It could be the original work is now in the public domain so they don’t have to credit anyone on the recording, but they can release it with strict phonographic copyright, or it could mean they released their recording in the public domain.

Only for the latter case the license url relationship would be applicable, but as Freso said CC0 should not be used unless that’s explicitly the way they chose to release it in the PD.

If it’s the former, then I’d say this shouldn’t be mentioned at all. If they record a work they simply credit to public domain and we don’t know the original writers either, then the work can be credited to [unknown] or maybe [traditional], but if the original writers, publishers and whatnot are known, then those should be used and the fact that the work is now in the public domain is of no big interest to us.

Noted that way it usually implies only the source recording being public domain, however the released version carries strict ℗ (1986 in this case, see Back scan).

(Further complicating is the possibility of different recordings of a same 1940s radio broadcast, and the mastering relationship being deprecated.)

The “original work” is the better term than the “source recording” here at least if I assume correctly, that these are recordings of previously written music and not recordings that sample previously recorded music - as is more common in hip-hop and electronic music than in classical music.

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What about the Public Domain Mark?


Certainly, but the typical case in question (given the 3 linked releases) would be a PD recording of a non-PD work (i.e. the Elgar Enigma recording, egal whether or not it was later remastered copyrightedly for release), and I sought there to keep from confusion with the term Work = composition.

(Pippop, yes. Heard of it.)

I don’t think that is legally possible.

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And I am now as then and again surprised at how things have a way of turning. See Elgar release, booklet page 2: Enigma Variations are¤ marked PD, but the Cello Concerto is not (different recording artists and session). One might argue that the PD mark is for the published score used, but then it should say something for the Concerto. Not that I know for sure on this release or any other, nor arguing against you; Any part of a Release of a Recording of a Work may be copyrighted separately for all I know. Say, a copyrighted Work performed in 1930s live radio broadcast, the recording of which has fallen into PD but is released as copyrighted cleaning/remaster: The source recording should remain PD, but I am not certain as to whether MB SG, with remastering being deprecated, would have the later release Recording be identical to its source. (Neither am I clear on MB/users discerning performance (not event) from Recording, but that should not wait up.)

¤ ‘are’ by my bias: for plural Recordings, not singular Work. Ah, well.

Elgar edit: E pur si muove, release Medium and Back has ℗ 1976, with recording dates 1970.11.27—8 (Concerto), 1976.4.6 (Variations).

Another note is that a work can be in the public domain in one country but not another. It gets into the mess of copyright expiry, and I don’t think MB should get into that. We should only mark recordings that are licensed in a particular way (like CC) when they are created, and not track changes to copyright statuses due to time lapse.