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Permission to use transcribed music published in Dissertation?

Hello, all -
I'm trying to discover if I have the right to utilize, as source material, choral music the individual voice parts of which were written in individucal part-books back in the early 17th Century.  I have found a doctoral dissertaion from 1957 at the University of Edinborough, Scotland, where the author travelled to all of the libraries to where these part books had been scattered, and copied all of the music from each book into hand-written full open-score format, essentially bringing together S, A, T, and B parts together in oine source for the first time.  The author included her hand-notated transcriptions as part of her dissertation which was never published.
While some individual songs from these part-books have subsequently been gathered and commercially published as performance editions, not all of them have.
Does anyone have knowledge of whether or not I may legally utilize this DMA student's 1957 open-score transcriptions of the 17th century part books as a basis for making my own performance transcription/edition/adaptation?  At this point, I have no interest in trying to publish - just a research and possible study/performance opportunity for my choirs.
Kind regards,
Tim Thomas
Beverly Hills, Michigan
on March 22, 2013 6:57am
I'm not a lawyer....
In the US, whether a dissertation is published or not, the writer might still its copyright.
Your issue has various facets:
1- the dissertation was not published in the US;
2- the Univ. of Edinborough may actually own copyrights to some or all dissertations submitted to it, whether published or not, and;
3- last, it doesn't matter whether you are creating something for publication or not when determining whether you need seek permission to use the material.
I'd travel the road of due diligence, personally. In your case I would first contact the writer, if possible. If they're deceased the next contact would be the doctoral music dept. of the University.
I don't know how much trouble it would be to have your own photocopies made from the sources the writer originally transcribed from, but that would be the next logical step if nothing else pans out, IMO.
-Cecil Rigby
Clemson, SC
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