CBS/Paramount and Public Domain Songs

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by FanCollector, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. FanCollector

    FanCollector Producer

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    I got a little curious after noticing that "Give My Regards to Broadway" was edited out of two episodes on the last set of The Odd Couple. I knew that song was in the public domain, but thought it was an isolated oversight. In fact, seven Odd Couple episodes are edited unnecessarily by removing songs that would have been absolutely free. We have discussed the issue of music clearance in many threads here and everyone has his or her own theory about assigning blame, but let's agree that this kind of useless editing should stop. As with The Fugitive cues, some of which would have required separate clearance, but many if which would not, these songs did not need to go.

    Should we chip in and buy a copy of Who Wrote That Song? for the CBS legal department?

    For those interested, the following songs were cut from one or more Odd Couple episodes, despite the expiration of their copyrights:

    "Give My Regards to Broadway"
    "Peg O' My Heart"
    "Look For the Silver Lining"
    "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life"
    "I Love You Truly"
    "Tiger Rag"
     
  2. Carabimero

    Carabimero Cinematographer
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    I don't think CBS bothers to really check anymore. If it's a song, they snip it. That's probably an overstatement, but they don't get the benefit of the doubt fromme (or my wallet) anymore.
     
  3. Michael Rogers

    Michael Rogers Supporting Actor

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    The only rationale I can think of is they feel someone can claim ownership despite the lapsed copyright.
     
  4. Stephen Bowie

    Stephen Bowie Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, yes, it's already been established here and elsewhere that CBS is cutting or replacing music they don't have to, along with the "Happy Birthday"-type tunes that are known to command exorbitant license fees.

    Not that I would discourage anyone from continuing to vent their outrage and disbelief.
     
  5. DeWilson

    DeWilson Cinematographer

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    This just borders on the sloppy and lazy!
     
  6. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Even if a song is in public domain, the particular arrangement of that song may still be under copyright.

    Think of it this way: even though the story Sleeping Beauty is public domain, Disney's movie of SLEEPING BEAUTY is definitely copyrighted.
     
  7. Corey3rd

    Corey3rd Screenwriter

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    maybe Tony Randall's estate or the staff music coordinator wanted a little more cash?
     
  8. Kevin Martinez

    Kevin Martinez Second Unit

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    Maybe the songs themselves are public domain, but the actual recordings used are not (this was the case for the William Tell Overture on one DVD set).

    EDIT: God damn you, Mark Zimmer. You fucking twat.
     
  9. FanCollector

    FanCollector Producer

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    That is an excellent point, but not really applicable in The Odd Couple cases. Tony Randall singing "I Love You Truly" with a harmonica accompaniment is pretty definitely something arranged on the spot for the show. Similarly two a cappella lines of "Give My Regards to Broadway", "Peg O' My Heart" or "Look For the Silver Lining" are unlikely to have been from a pre-existing arrangement.
     
  10. Tim Tucker

    Tim Tucker Screenwriter

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    Honestly, CBS/Paramount needs to hire a musicologist, instead of letting the legal department make all these decisions. It would probably save time and money, and, as well, engender good will with the consumer.

    But that would make too much sense...
     
  11. Kevin Martinez

    Kevin Martinez Second Unit

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    That's absolutely right. douchebags.
     
  12. Corey3rd

    Corey3rd Screenwriter

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    nothing is made up on the spot for a sit-com. Nobody just tosses in a song without it being cleared for broadcast. somebody practiced the harmonic piece.

    If Randall just makes it up on the spot - he's still entitled to be credited as the arranger.
     
  13. FanCollector

    FanCollector Producer

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    I spoke too cavalierly. I didn't mean that the whole inclusion of the song was on the spur of the moment. I only meant that the very simple, ad hoc arrangements would not have been taken from a pre-existing source outside the production staff of the show. It then goes back to the whole work-for-hire definition. Tony Randall may technically be the arranger when he sings "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" alone and without instrumentation or chorus, but he can't negotiate an individual contract for each time the episode is issued.
     

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