The proof that a song is in the public domain is any sheet music publication with a copyright date of 1922 or
earlier. All of our reprints are black and while facsimiles of sheet music that is now in the public domain in the USA.
Use the links below to see samples of PD Reprints of the Star Spangled
For reprints prepared from Sheet Music, we reprint the cover and all pages of the sheet music. When
music is reprinted from a book, each reprint shows the book cover, title page, copyright notice, and
entire index of the book where the song was published. In addition to all pages of the sheet music,
we clearly show the copyright notice enlarged enough to be clearly readable.
Our PD Reprints are printed in black on antique-white paper in 11" x 17" sheet music format and folded to 8-1/2" x 11". While the sheet music is an exact replica
of the original, it is scaled to fit an 8-1/2" x 11" page and may be slightly larger or slightly smaller than the original publication.
The Star Spangled Banner samples above are low resolution files compressed enough
to view on the internet, but the files are too small to produce a quality
printout. Reprints are actually printed from much higher
resolution images and will look substantially better than sheet music in the sample files above.
Do I Really Need A Reprint?
No proof of public domain is legally required to use a public domain song or
musical work. But you cannot positively know that a song is in the
public domain unless you actually have a true public domain copy of the sheet
music with a valid copyright notice of 1922 or earlier.
Today, we think of a song as having specific lyrics always sung with the same
melody. But many songs evolved over time, and any arrangement of a PD song
created after 1922 is under copyright protection. The only way to know
precisely what lyrics and melody are in the public domain is to work exclusively
from a public domain version.
We will be the first to tell you that most popular songs and hymns are known today
in essentially the same form as the PD version. But this is just not always true. For
most folk songs, spirituals, and songs written in the 1800s or earlier, the
popular version known today is NOT the public domain version but is actually a
derivative version created after 1922 from a much older version of the song.
There is an incredibly large volume of music published from the beginning of
time through 1922. PD Info works very hard to make our lists of
public domain music accurate and reliable. But music researchers are human, and even the best of us do occasionally make errors.
In most instances, we would tell you that a $5 PD Reprint is "cheap insurance" to positively know that a song
you use is truly in the public domain in the USA. But only you can decide if
you need proof of public domain status. Our PD Reprints are priced at what it
costs us to produce them, and we offer them as a service to make public domain
music readily available to everyone.