Public domain music via "donum mundus" clauses

Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at February 9, 2006 09:21 PM


What an “amusing” concept…reserving the right to donate to the public domain.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this before. My surfing the other night brought me across the blog of a musical artist (Chris Rice). [Disclaimer: I'm a fan of his.]

In one post, Chris talks about how in negotiating his latest record deal he demanded that a “donum mundus” clause (“gift to the world”) be put into his recording contract. The clause allows him to, outside of his exclusive contract with his recording label, create works which he can donate to the public domain. Why? Because according to Chris, “[s]omehow in the [illegal file sharing/copyright] debate, we have forgotten that music exists primarily to beautify the world, and that, although important, earning a living from it is secondary.”

I’m not sure which is more amazing. The idea (reserving the right to donate his talents), or the fact that his recording label agreed to let him do it. Personally, I would foresee that the record label would want to sign off of what songs are kept and which are donated…but that isn’t what happened here.

It will be interesting to see if Chris’ idea catches on…I’ll be keeping an eye on his blog, interested in seeing what the clause actually looks like.

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Anonymous Says:

March 22, 2006 10:20 PM

"reserving the right to donate to the pubic domain."
You have a very funny typo there.

Larry Dean Says:

September 14, 2006 07:19 PM

The recording company is ok with this because their CD has phonorecord rights (that pesky circle P) which prohibits any copying of the CD. So only the composition is public domain by the composer's donation. Remember even with public domain music on CD's (for example a Beethoven Symphony)it is still illegal to copy or share the recording if it claims phonorecord protection.

dfdhs Says:

October 27, 2006 07:24 AM

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Alex Says:

February 23, 2007 02:10 PM

I am looking for music, public domain, i.e Danny boy, green sleeves, Steven Foster's music, etc. downloadable,cd,etc. hopefully performed by an orchestra,that I can buy royality free with no strings attached (I would own rights to use in any way I choose for as long as I choose. Do you know of such a site ?

Thank you,

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