Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright laws

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gentlemanfarmer

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Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright laws

PostThu Aug 25, 2011 1:38 pm

Does anyone here know about Australian copyright laws for copying film scores circa 1918, and/or who might own the rights to the works of Irénée Bergé (a.k.a. Irenee Berge, 1867-1926)?

I would like to order his Western Scene from the Australian national library, but might need the additional information to gain permission for the copies.

Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks,
Eric Cook
Eric W. Cook
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Silent Film, Salon and Ragtime Orchestra
Please visit us at ivyleaforchestra.com
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gentlemanfarmer

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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostThu Aug 25, 2011 1:46 pm

Just saw this on Rodney Sauer's Mont Alto site:

"Bergé died in Jersey City NJ on July 30, 1926 and thus never saw the end of the live orchestra era of movies. His music was still being published up to the very end of his life. He was survived by his wife Aurelie -- but not for long. Irenee and Aurelie were childless, and according to their great-great nephew Pierre Luc Bergé-Lefranc, Aurelie sailed to Le Havre to sign a will in favor of his nephew, but she died during the night before signing. So the composition rights reverted to the U.S. government instead of to the French relations."

So what does that mean for a performer at this point, esp. vis-a-vis Australian law, how does one document this if needed?

Thanks again.
Eric W. Cook
Director, Ivy Leaf Orchestra
Silent Film, Salon and Ragtime Orchestra
Please visit us at ivyleaforchestra.com
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Brooksie

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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostThu Aug 25, 2011 6:33 pm

The basic rule under Australian law is that the work goes into public domain seventy years after the creator's death, but there are certain caveats. The National Library of Australia has information on their website to help calculate probable copyright status at https://wiki.nla.gov.au/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=22741548. This site links to the Australian Copyright Council website, which also has some very helpful information.

Individual items on the site are listed with a copyright status, but it's not always accurate, and they usually list something as being in copyright if it's not clear.

I notice that Berge is listed in the NLA catalogue as having died `ca 1950'. If I were you, I would provide the library with as much evidence as possible of the actual date of death in order to clarify the copyright status.

If it still proves to be in copyright for whatever reason, it's likely you will have to apply to the Australian Performing Arts Association (APRA) to license the music - see http://www.apra-amcos.com.au/MusicConsumers/Findalicencetosuityourneeds.aspx, but with a bit of luck, it won't come to that.
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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostThu Aug 25, 2011 7:43 pm

Dear Brooksie,

Thanks so much for all the information you shared. I went ahead and used the copying services the library provides and applied for copies of the parts, I'll take your links and prepare myself in case they need further documentation of copyright, ownership, etc.

I really am grateful for all the links and background on things concerning Australian copyright - what a fascinating modern world we all live in these days!

Best wishes,
Eric
Eric W. Cook
Director, Ivy Leaf Orchestra
Silent Film, Salon and Ragtime Orchestra
Please visit us at ivyleaforchestra.com
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Rodney

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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostSat Aug 27, 2011 2:22 am

I actually have a copy of Irenee Berge's death certificiate, if it helps. Let me know and I'll see if I can dig it out and scan it for you. (I don't make a habit of collecting death certificates, but I wanted to nail down once and for all whether Irenee was a man or a woman -- his name appears in a number of lists of woman composers. Certificate says: male.) And if it makes a difference in Australian law, the things he published for silent film orchestra work were "works for hire," rather than work he did on his own. It matters in some copyright laws, in that works for hire are considered copyrighted by the publisher, not the composer, and of course publishers don't necessarily die, so there is sometimes a different formula for things going public.

I know of several people who have had no trouble getting silent film music from the Australian National Library, so good luck with your efforts.

And I should add that although the story on my web site was told to me by Berge's great nephew, it looks weird to me, and the rights surely didn't go to the U.S. Government (the U.S. Government doesn't hold copyrights, to the best of my knowledge). The rights would have been owned by the publishing companies he worked for, and his death wouldn't have affected that under US law. But, there may have been a lawsuit.
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"
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gentlemanfarmer

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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostSat Aug 27, 2011 9:38 am

Thanks again Rodney, as ever the folks on Nitrateville are very resourceful and helpful.

I was wondering about the male/female thing, I finally got my own copy of the Altman book a few days back, and saw the female composer item night before last and went...hm...so it was nice to have the notice about his death certificate, and his sex, not that it really matters, but it's nice to known when the facts are straight and where the source for them is - fascinating about his nephew. I'd never heard about the US gov.t. owning copyrights, but my knowledge of copyright is limited to what a church organist/choir director typically needs to know. The more I've been reading about copyright, for this and other another project I'm involved with, the more my head wants to explode - just when you think you've got it figured out, you dont!

The piece - Western Scene - I'm stealing your cue from you topnotch score, for our hopeful showing of A Modern Musketeer - is 1918 - and I couldn't find a copyright renewal for it - doesn't mean there isn't one - so I'm hopeful it's public domain in the US anyways.

Thanks again for the offer of help, I should have copies or a request for more info by Wednesday, instant. If I need more help I'll come looking for it, please let me know how to reciprocate at some point.

Cheers!
Eric W. Cook
Director, Ivy Leaf Orchestra
Silent Film, Salon and Ragtime Orchestra
Please visit us at ivyleaforchestra.com
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Rodney

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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostSat Aug 27, 2011 9:57 am

Oh, the Western Scene from 1918 is absolutely guaranteed public domain in the U.S. Under U.S. law, copyright on works for hire expired after 35 years unless renewed, then expired for good at 70 years until the Sonny Bono copyright extension act, and by the time that passed any work for hire (films and music) published in 1922 or earlier had fallen into the public domain. Now we're in a twenty-year limbo until the Sonny Bono act expires or gets renewed.

For anything published after 1922 you need to go to the Catalog of Copyright Entries books. These are unfortunately only sporadically online at this point, so you need a library that has them. Google books has some, but not the musical score renewal sections. University libraries are a good bet. Then, see if there was a renewal 35 years later, give or take. I've had roughly a 20% nonrenewal rate for things I've looked up, but when a particular composer and/or publisher didn't renew, there's a much better chance that other works by that composer and publisher also didn't get renewed. Which explains the late 1920s pieces by Walter Schad showing up in Mont Alto's recorded scores lately...

How many parts do you need for Western Scene? I have a the Mont Alto instruments and can scan them for you, but it's just piano conductor, violin, clarinet, cornet, and cello.
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"
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gentlemanfarmer

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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostSat Aug 27, 2011 10:10 am

Dear Rodney,

Thanks for the offer of the parts you have, I'll be happy to use them if the Australian library attempt runs into problems. I have the piano part currently, and I'm waiting to hear back on a grant application by Sept. 15, if received, I'll know if I actually need the additional parts, and how many. If we receive the grant, and there is a no go from Australia, I'd probably like copies of the four instrumental parts you have, and I'll arrange the rest myself based on any cross-cues in the score, the other 100 or so scores I've been studying from the Mirskey collection, and my own misguided sense of orchestration.

Again thanks for the wonderful offer of help!
Eric W. Cook
Director, Ivy Leaf Orchestra
Silent Film, Salon and Ragtime Orchestra
Please visit us at ivyleaforchestra.com
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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostSun Aug 28, 2011 6:46 pm

No problem Eric - I wouldn't pretend to be an expert on copyright, but anyone who did would probably be lying to you. Getting it straight in your own country is hard enough.

I find the folks at the NLA very helpful and hands-on - the only thing I would say is that it can sometimes (not always) take a while for things to happen, but I suspect that's true of any public institution.
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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostSun Aug 28, 2011 8:51 pm

As someone who had to deal with copyright laws with the National Library of Australia before, here's what I recommend.

Australian Copyright Law states that IF a composer died before 1955, it's Public Domain. Even if it may be out of copyright in the US does not guarantee that it is PD in Australia. Using that logic (for example), all Scott Joplin music is out of copyright in Australia. One of the ones I had trouble with though was with Erno Rapee & William Axt, since one of them died before 1955 and the other survived longer!

If the piece is in copyright due to a death, then just email the docdel/copyright email address they give you in an email back about it. They will usually put you in touch with someone at a larger corporation, such as Alford, and you just have to explain to them that you're using this for academic research, it's silent film music, and that you're just trying to share your love of the music/films with a larger audience. They usually then will grant access to photocopy the music, and will forward you an email to forward to the Library, and your request will be processed. I find that the copyright people for Alford in Australia are very helpful and usually don't care if it's silent film material.

Just my 2 cents.
Andrew Greene
Founder & Director, Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra
http://www.peacherineragtime.com
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gentlemanfarmer

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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostSun Aug 28, 2011 8:55 pm

Thanks Andrew & Brooksie - nice to have advice from someone on the ground, and someone else who has worked with them.
Eric W. Cook
Director, Ivy Leaf Orchestra
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BERGE-LEFRANC

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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostWed Sep 21, 2011 8:37 am

hi,

Just during my search on Irénée Bergé, i saw your topic, and i would like to tell you that when i spoke about music rights back to the US Government it means that, as Irenée was childless all the will goes to the US states.
are the rights in the public domain or not? i think that is possible but no sure, i'm not a specialist.
I owned different irenée's parts, and if you need some, i could you send you the parts you need, as i made for Monte Alto.
Best regards
Pierre Luc BERGE-LEFRANC
Bordeaux
France
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gentlemanfarmer

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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostWed Sep 21, 2011 1:55 pm

Dear Pierre Luc Berege-LeFranc,

That would be wonderful. I just had a very frustrating reply from the library in Australia saying they had cancelled my request for the music due to a "lack of a reply", but it didn't state from whom they were expected a reply. I assume from me, or perhaps someone else in the music department? I don't know. They had requested additional information after I placed the initial request, I supplied it, and then heard nothing further for three weeks until the cancellation notice arrived. I wrote to them again, and have had no response for the last two or three days. So I don't understand what happend. I had nothing between the two requests, and the information I supplied was done directly on their web page, and I received a confirmation notice from them and I paid a $16 copying fee, which the last notice stated would be refunded. So I don't understand, probably just an error, who knows!?!

If I am correct in interpreting your information, Irenee must have died intestate, that is he died with debts outstanding beyond the scope of his estate's value, or he died without a will or heirs recognized by the state of New Jersey? In which case his estate would have become administered by the state of New Jersey, and the state may have taken large parts of it (ie the money), especially if there were debts. His copyright claims would have most likely been assigned to someone or something at that point, based on what others have stated above, and my very, very, very limited understanding of inheritance law. So his publishers would have likely retained his copyrights, or whoever was the main inheritor of his estate? Does that make sense? Maybe others can help clarify things here. I'm just thinking aloud and processing the information I've read or others have supplied.

In any case, I'm glad for any additional information about the composer, and your kind offer to help. I am looking for the instrumental parts for his Western Scene, in d minor/F major from 1918. If you have any parts I'd be grateful for a PDF scan, or whatever format you might be able and/or be willing to supply.

It would appear that this work is in the public domain, at least in the United States, I've found no renewal for the 1918 date, and anything before 1922 is public domain at this point (as I understand it).

If you need anymore information from me, please let me know,

Thanks again, and great to meet you.
Eric Cook
Eric W. Cook
Director, Ivy Leaf Orchestra
Silent Film, Salon and Ragtime Orchestra
Please visit us at ivyleaforchestra.com
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Andrew Greene

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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostWed Sep 21, 2011 2:59 pm

Eric,
It doesn't matter if you're requesting photocopies from the NLA about inheritance law. In the most basic form, it just depends on when Berge died. As I stated before, Australia's copyright law states that if a composer died before 1955, the music that the person wrote is now public domain. NLA must be confused somehow, or your email didn't reach them.

What I would do, is email them back, at their document services email, explain that you do not wish for your order to be cancelled, tell them that Irenee Berge died in 1926, therefore his music is PD in Australia, and you wish to have your order filled. I've done that before, and there's been no problem.

Hope it all works out.
Andrew Greene
Founder & Director, Peacherine Ragtime Society Orchestra
http://www.peacherineragtime.com
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gentlemanfarmer

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Re: Irénée Bergé copyright claims - Australian copyright law

PostWed Sep 21, 2011 9:01 pm

Thanks Andrew for the note, the question was one of mis-communication and not copyright.

The issue of copyright was in response to Pierre's question about the disposition of Berge's estate.

I had further information from the library, apparently an email that was meant to reach me never did, the catalog listed a complete set of parts but it seems only the Violin 1, Bass, Clarinet I and II parts, and oboe parts survive in the actual file. Hence the delay, and the question of response, and order cancellation. I've ordered the parts that exist and will take up any other offer of additional parts that might be out there with great thanks, and an exchange for any parts in my little library if interested.

Also, Andrew which Brockton (Lake) Preston from 1918 is it that you are looking for, I have one and know of two others.

Thanks!
Eric W. Cook
Director, Ivy Leaf Orchestra
Silent Film, Salon and Ragtime Orchestra
Please visit us at ivyleaforchestra.com

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