set chopin free

The Complete Works of Chopin, For Everybody, For Free

Frédéric Chopin passed away more than 160 years ago – sufficiently long ago that today all of his compositions belong to the public domain.

Yet, despite this, if you wanted to make a movie with Chopin’s Nocturne in C-Sharp minor playing in the background, chances are you’d have to pay royalties to do so. Why is that?

The reason points to a little wrinkle in the public domain, one that commonly plagues classical works: While the music is technically in the public domain (and you are free to play it, perform it, record it however you like), recordings of these public-domain works tend to be copyrighted. (You can thank this little wrinkle for all the terrible “hold” music you’ve been subjected to over the years.)

A Kickstarter project, “Set Chopin Free,” aims to do exactly what its name suggests: Release Chopin recordings from their copyright cell.

Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]