I have translated a few songs from the 19 century and early 20th century. i sing as well and would like to perform them and post them on my youtube page and or record them .

One one of the songs is BUtterfield's lullaby also known as TAPS.

Because TAPS's melody is from mid 19th century 1836 -39 and the lyrics is considered a children nursery rhyme ... I am thinking that it is okay to sing and record and share with public and post or sell my translated version.

I don't realize i may need to share profit .

I would also like to protect my translated version somehow. How do I do that?

  • What's your jurisdiction? United States?
    – D M
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


Any song or other music composed and published in the 1830s is very likely to be in the public domain by now, although it will depend on the exact laws in your country, and, in some countries, on the year in which the author/composer died. In the US if it was published before 1924 it will be in the public domain now, but the rule is different in different countries.

Assuming that the work is in the public domain, you may freely create translations, or modified versions, and perform them. You may sell those performances, or distribute them free of charge.

In all countries which adhere to the Berne Copyright Convention, which meals all but a handful of countries in the world, your work is fully protected the moment you write4 it down, or otherwise "fix it in a tangible medium". (Computer files count.)

In the US you may choose to register a copyright. This gives you additional rights should you sue for infringement later. It also provides evidence of your copyrighted work. However, there is a fee. Some other countries have similar procedures. Each country is different, and registration in one does not provide registration in any other. But in all of the Berne countries, registration is optional.

  • Yes David I am working on a translation of a Particular song written in the 19th century so i know it is of public Domain. Now the lyrics I am not sure about , However I do know that there are NO OFFICIAL lyrics to the songs. Or now the lullaby is a Children's nursery rhyme so I think i can use those freely as well yes? However being there are so many variations on the lyrics should I see which are free to use and which are not.. obviously, Or should i contact the owner if possible and see if he would mind the translation and then we share profits. I am in US Commented May 26, 2019 at 22:27
  • r protection for 90 years? Commented May 26, 2019 at 22:44
  • You have a lot of minor spelling errors in your recent posts
    – Dale M
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 22:45
  • @Mara L. Bachicha There are countries with life +80 and I think life +100 copyright terms, and if the composer was young when the work was created and lived to an old age, protection could in theory last for up to say 150 years or more. Commented May 26, 2019 at 22:57
  • @Dalke M: Thanks, I will try to fix them Commented May 26, 2019 at 22:57

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