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I am no lawyer, but it's my understanding that for decades one doesn't
have to do anything anymore to get copyright. It sounds like Tom Dula
is probably dead for more than 70 years which means his works would
not be protected by copyright any longer (like Beethoven's). See here
for example which appears at first glance to say about the same:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright

I figure you might be able to turn publicity (media) in money since
it's potentially a good story.

Good luck!

On Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 1:30 PM, Marty Tschetter
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Colleagues,
>
> Seeking advice or experience...my local museum stumbled across handwritten lyrics written by Tom Dula in 1862 as a Confederate soldier, donated outright to the museum circa 2005 by a distant relative. Just about every week we get visitors interested in the Tom Dula story because of the folk song "Hang Your Head Down Low Tom Dooley" recorded by the Kingston Trio. Doc Watson and even the Grateful Dead recorded the song.
>
> How do we copyright this song? Should we do this? As a small museum, any suggestions or thoughts if we could possibly (or should) try to make some money off the song? I'm not sure exactly how this would work or what is appropriate. Any advice or feedback welcomed.
>
> Marty