Over the Rainbow” was written in 1938 by I’m over it Rainbow shirt Harold Arlen and my great-grandfather, Yip Harburg including help from Ira Gershwin. The song became popular because it was originally featured in one of the most popular movies of all time, the 1939 MGM version of the “Wizard of Oz.” It’s not that the song is just popular now, it’s been continuously popular for over 80 years. Various artists including Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, KD Lang, Lady Gaga, Pink, Arianna Grande, and countless other major stars have covered the song. In the 90s Israel Iz Kamakawiwoʻole produced with his Ukulele the version most people are familiar with. Why does this song continue to endure after all these decades? That is something I have spent the last decade trying to answer. I am producing a documentary called “Song of the Century” that you will hopefully have the opportunity to see once it is complete later this year.
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The short answer is no, “Over The Rainbow” is not in the I’m over it Rainbow shirt public domain. It’s probably going to be a matter of dispute one day over when exactly it enters the public domain, but that argument isn’t going to start until nearly twenty years from now. Depending on how one interprets the laws, which have changed over the years, “Over The Rainbow” will enter the public domain in 2034 at the earliest, which is 95 years following its original publication date of 1939. Or, because the copyright was renewed by the current copyright holder (Robbins Music Corporation, on behalf of MGM) in 1979 after the copyright law had changed the prior year, it might not enter the public domain until 2056, which is 70 years following the death of Harold Arlen.
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