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Subject: Copyright old Dutch song
(1 september 2019)
I enjoyed browsing through your website of Dutch songs. Thanks for sharing this with the rest of the world.
I have written a WWII memoir as seen through the eyes of a young girl in Hengelo, Overijssel, the Netherlands. My family lived there until 1953.
In my book, I have included the song 'Het vogelsnestje'. Do I need to get permission to translate this song into English and have it printed in my book for commercial purposes? How do you find the copyright owners to such an old song?
Establishing who owns the copyright to old photos and songs is a sisyphean task and I feel like a sleuth looking for a needle in a haystack...
Looking forward to your reply, kindest regards,
Johanna (Ottawa, Canada).
Answer (2 september 2019)
Thank you for the compliment for my website!
About copyright: in the Netherlands, a creative work is legally under copyright until 70 years after the maker(s) has/have died (lyricist, composer).
Well, the song 'Vogelnestje' ('Er schommelt een wiegje in 't bloeiende hout') was written by Simon Abramsz (1867-1924) and L. van Tetterode (1858-1931). It was first published in 1908, in a school book for musical lessons for starting teachers ('Lentegroen').
So the two makers of the song both died over 70 years ago. That means that the song is in the public domain, meaning you can use the text freely. But the makers should be mentioned under the lyrics and it's also custom to mention the date of publication. Also if you should write a parody, quote a part of the text or give the song in translation, you have to mention the original makers (even if it's in the public domain).
This song was well-known, because it was included in the populair song book If you still can sing, then sing along/Kun je nog zingen, zing dan mee, that has been in print the whole 20th century.
I wish you all good luck finishing your book. It's an interesting subject. I know the town of Hengelo, in fact I lived not far from it (in Gelderland) for several years as a child.
I hope my answer will help you out a littlebit. With kind regards, met vriendelijke groeten,
Dutch songs with English translation (dutchsongs.overtuin.net)
More information about the song:
(my Dutch website, 3rd song on this page)
Answer (6 september 2019)
Thanks for your detailed advice. I appreciate your kindness and will follow up on your suggestions.
Wishing you much joy and pleasure with your website, and thanks again for your kindness.
More English questions about Dutch songs:
English guestbook Dutch songs