Public Domain Song (Finlandia op. 26) Forced to Private Upon Upload

• Jan 10, 2020 - 02:11

I am arranging Jean Sibelius' song "Finlandia, op. 26" for concert band setting (just for fun), and when it was uploaded to MuseScore, it was forced to private setting. I understand this is for copyright reasons, however, in the United States, any song composed before 1925 is public domain (meaning any classical songs before 1923), or songs can enter the public domain 50-75 years after the composer's death. As "Finlandia" was written in 1899-1900, it is public domain in the US, where I am located.
I went to my score earlier, and saw a paragraph stating that it is "temporarily hidden"
Under copyright details, it says: Publisher Banreah
Please look at these passages I found on public domain:,Op.26(Sibelius,_Jean)…

Here is the link to the score:

Please review this, and understand that this song is public domain, and that this is my own arrangement. I am not copying this off of any arrangement, only arranging the original orchestral version for a concert band, which is legal as this song is public domain.
Thank you for your time.


There are a percentage of tunes that are copyrighted in EU. United States also follows international copyright laws. If you do this band arrangement, don't upload it to any server except your own personal server. Don't use servers. Keep it private on your own personal computer. You might want to check with free-scores. com for more info about EU copyright of Finlandia.

In reply to by Imaginatorium

Well, copyright is just about the only way composers make money. Basically, a publisher buys your music and pays you royalties from the sale of your music. All I'm saying is that while someone's "music" may be in public domain, a particular published version may not be. It's worth checking with the publisher.

In reply to by bobjp

The question is whether those copyright claims are right though. They don't own the copyright for the music, as it had entered the Public Domain, so using the notes to create a new score should be legal regardless what they claim. But IANAL.. And won't want to get dragged into such lawsuits

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

I'll drink to that!
However, they own their version of the notes. They sell their version. Otherwise they wouldn't bother. It's a twisted, convoluted path. Down which it is easy to get lost.
Maybe it is different for public domain music. Maybe not. That's why it's worth checking with the publisher to be sure.

"arranging the original orchestral version"
This might be another problem. When was the score you are working from published? Remember the publisher owns the copyright for that version.

In reply to by bobjp

"Some companies do require permission..."
Let's not confuse companies which choose to pursue copyright contravention with basic copyright law.

As Jojo-Schmitz pointed out earlier:
"Jean Sibelius died 1957, 70 years later makes 2027, which is when that work enters the public domain in the EU and then worldwide"
It's the "worldwide" which trips people up. If you want to post your score on the basis of available worldwide, then you really have to take account of worldwide copyright rules. You can't post "worldwide" based your "local" copyright law.

In reply to by DanielR

I don't think I'm confusing anything. If I want to make a band arrangement of Finlandia, where am I going to go. I might find someone else's version at IMSLP. But there's problems there, too. More likely I've got a score. And the publisher of that score owns that version. The publisher may, or may not pursue violators. But that doesn't excuse the violation. If the Theodore Presser Company publishes "Finlandia" their website says I must get (buy?) permission to do almost anything with it besides play it. That includes photocopy or making arrangements. It seems to me that the best way to handle the local VS worldwide question is to not abuse copyright to begin with. Doesn't seem hard to me.
All I'm saying is that it's worth checking with the publisher.

In reply to by bobjp

"If the Theodore Presser Company publishes "Finlandia" their website says I must get (buy?) permission to do almost anything with it besides play it."

Playing a work is also constrained by copyright. The copyright owner can a) restrict who or in what circumstances a work may be performed; and b) require royalties to be paid for each performance. For example, if you try to hire music for a show, the copyright holder may have already provided exclusive performance rights in a town or region to a particular company and will not provide music to another company in that town or region. I know of several amateur operatic societies who have been prevented from performing the show they wanted because of this.

There are many different ways that royalties for performances can be paid and distributed. For example, in the UK a copyright holder may register their work with the Performing Rights Society (see here: which has various schemes for collecting royalties for live performances, for public use of recorded music (e.g. by DJs), for background music (e.g. in hotel foyers) etc. The performer may not know that fees are being paid for their performance as this may well be handled by the venue.

Some music is only available for hire (including a lot of Sibelius's works) and the hire charge will include the royalty for performance. The size of the fee will depend on the audience. A major orchestra at a renowned concert hall will pay a lot, an amateur orchestra in a church hall will pay much less but it can be enough to make a performance financially infeasible.

In reply to by SteveBlower

Sure, but not for public domain scores.
And for the rest, here in Germany, in Roman katholic churches and (only) during a service, we're covered for (almost) everything due to an arrangement between the dioceses and the copyright authorities GEMA and VG-Wort, for the performance part.

I used to mow the lawn while whistling (public performance?); but, after reading all this - and from now forward - only public domain tunes, of course.
Better to be safe than sorry... ;-)

Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.