Got to hand it to the Germans, they don’t play around when it comes to ownership of stuff; it has recently become known that the Turkish national anthem, “İstiklal Marşı,” may be unprotected by copyright.
And who steps up to claim it? A German musical society, can you imagine a group from another country asking for royalties every time we sing ‘God save the Queen? Well that is what is about to happen to the Turkish national anthem.
This has the Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan propose a bylaw to make the song public property but he’ll have to move fast as GEMA, a society for composers, songwriters and music publishers that focuses on music licensing, had demanded the royalties from a Turkish school in Germany that played the “İstiklal Marşı” during its Turkish National Sovereignty and Children’s Day celebrations.
The poet who penned the words to the Turkish anthem, Mehmet Akif Ersoy, died in 1936, while the score’s composer, Zeki Üngör, died in 1958. This means that if the intellectual property rights are applicable to national anthems, rights to the song would still belong to Üngör’s estate.
So technically Üngör’s heirs can claim royalties…geez I hope the English national anthem is copyright protected.