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Should the Irish State hold the copyright to Amhrán na bhFiann? Fianna Fáil thinks it should

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Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

FIANNA FÁIL WANTS the copyright on the national anthem to be brought back under the ownership of the Irish State.

The song was written in 1907 by Peadar Kearney, who wrote the original lyrics in English. The song was adopted as the national anthem in 1922.  Peadar Kearney died in 1942 and under the current law, copyright officially expired on 31 December 2012,  70 years after his death.

Since then the anthem has not been under any copyright and Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly feels this needs to be rectified.

“Having copyright in place is the only way that we can protect our national anthem from being used in an inappropriate manner,” the Senator said in a statement today.

Daly adds that he will be introducing a new bill into the Seanad which he says will “rectify the problem” of Amhrán na bhFiann not being under copyright.

The opening line of the national anthem was used on a range of Dunnes Stores clothing designed by former Kerry footballer Paul Galvin.

Senator Daly has said that such commercial use was “inappropriate”.

Others argue that copyrighting the national anthem is a form of censorship that would restrict artists from reimagining the song.

The US national anthem, for example, is in public domain and the tune is not copyrighted, although some versions of the song may be.

Jimmy Hendrix famously played the Star Spangled Banner at his concerts for a number of years during the Vietnam War, most notably at Woodstock in 1969. 

Closer to home, Irish experimental group Meltybrains? recently released a 10-minute-long ambient version of Amhrán na bhFiann.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio yesterday, Daly said that he has “no issue” with musicians reinterpreting the song in their own way but that,

It’s the actual commercialisation of the national anthem, something that has happened in other countries and has also happened here unfortunately.  

Other questions that would need to be addressed would be in exactly what instances use of the song would be considered “inappropriate”.

Poll: Should the Irish State hold the copyright for Amhrán na bhFiann?


Poll Results:

Yes, it protects the anthem. (4096)
No, copyrighting it is restrictive. (1942)
Not sure. (656)



Read: It’s official: copyright on the National Anthem has ended >

Read: What will happen to Amhrán na bhFiann in 2012? >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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