When does a song enter into the Public Domain?

Generally, published works from 1922 and earlier are in the public domain. Unpublished works are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years. Most sound recordings, however, are not currently in the public domain regardless of year. In some cases, more recent works may be in the public domain if the author never obtained a copyright. Sometimes the author deliberately dedicates the work to the public domain. In that case, the work will have a notification that says “This work is dedicated to the public domain,” or similar. There are many exceptions and renewals available to copyright holders, so you should not assume that a work you wish to use is in the public domain.

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