What is Public Domain Music?
Music and lyrics published in 1922 or earlier are in the Public Domain in the United States. No one can claim ownership of a song in the public domain, therefore public domain songs may be used by anyone. Music recordings, however, are copyright protected separately from musical compositions. There are no sound recordings in the Public Domain in the USA.* If you need a music recording – even a recording of a public domain song – you will either have to record it yourself or license a Royalty Free Music recording. The proof that a musical work is in the Public Domain in the USA is any sheet music publication with a copyright date of 1922 or earlier.
*No Sound Recordings are PD in the USA due to a tangled complexity of Federal and State Law.For more information and a list of Public Domain songs visit PDinfo.com.