Well, the purpose of the copyright law IS  to encourage original composition
and film production, a fact that gets lost in the rhetoric  of large
internet corporations who want people to pay them for access to "free"
entertainment they don't have to pay those pesky producers, songwriters and
artists for.

I'd first find out who the music publisher is from the ASCAP web site and
contact them to  see if they'll give you permission. I've heard of
publishers granting permission provided they can still collect any
performance royalties from exhibiting the picture. If the recording  has
been restored and reissued in the past 30 years there is probably also a
copyright on the restored audio even if there is none on the master
recording. What a lot of people do is rerecord the music.

Bob Olhsson Audio Mastery, Nashville TN
Mastering, Audio for Picture, Mix Evaluation and Quality Control
Over 40 years making people sound better than they ever imagined!

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Peter Charuza
Sent: Saturday, August 13, 2011 1:51 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Location of Copyright Information

I know from the outset this topic is tread on thin ice and seems to be
constantly changing.

 I'm currently looking to confirm if certain a certain big band instrumental
has been put in the public domain so that I may use it in a film I'm
producing. If anyone has gone through a similar experience what is the best
bet to get confirmation on copyright status? I know the song was recorded in
1948, rather late so it makes me a bit nervous. It's not a big name band,
but what is the out look for this music do ya think?

For instance is something like Tommy Dorsey's I'll Never Smile Again, been
taken and wrapped up in the Record Label's seemingly perpetual copyright of
good sell-able classics?

Most people I speak with feel its not worth using known probable public
domain music, they prefer original compositions or modern indie music. My
feelings reside that its a large resource of beautiful recordings that
shouldn't be tread on. How can I tap into it, with out ending up in the
legal gutter?

Peter Charuza