Bourne Co. Music Publishers

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Bourne Co. Music Publishers
The terry theme - charles chaplin - bourne inc.jpg
Cover of the sheet music, "The Terry Theme" by Charlie Chaplin, as used in his film Limelight, and published by Bourne, Inc.
Founded 1919; 98 years ago (1919)
Founder Saul Bourne
Max Winslow
Irving Berlin
Country of origin United States
Distribution Regional
Publication types Sheet music
Official website

Bourne Co. Music Publishers is an American publisher of sheet music, and one of the largest privately held international music publishers in the world,[1] with over three thousand titles in their catalogue. Subsidiaries include Bourne Music Canada Limited, Bourne Music France, and Bourne Music Ltd. (UK).[1]


Bourne Music was founded in 1919 by Saul Bourne (born Saul H. Bornstein, also Sol Bourne, c.1884, died Oct 13, 1957 age 73),[2] Max Winslow (c.1883-1942)[3] and Irving Berlin (1888–1989). Bourne had been the professional manager of Berlin's own publishing company, Irving Berlin Music.[4] One day, Berlin accused Bornstein of putting fake contracts through the company. According to Irving Berlin biographer Laurence Bergreen,

"The two antagonists met shortly after the confrontation, and Berlin offered Bornstein a way to leave the company and save face. It was, under the circumstances, a generous deal. Berlin would retain the copyrights to — and thus the right to publish — his own songs, and Bornstein could take the copyrights to all other songs published by Berlin's company. Those non-Berlin songs amounted to a large share of the business — not half, but enough for Bornstein to become the proprietor of a lucrative music publishing company without having to do anything except agree to Berlin's conditions."[5]

The partnership between Bourne and Berlin ended in 1944 (Winslow having died earlier). The former "Irving Berlin, Inc." was renamed to "Bourne, Inc.,"[6] while Berlin's later publications were issued by the "Irving Berlin Music Company."[7]

Saul's wife Bonnie took over the running of the company when he died in 1957, and their daughter took over when she died in 1993.[8] The daughter of Saul and Bonnie, Beebe Bourne was the modern day publisher until her death, 1 Nov 2005.[1] Bonnie and Beebe Bourne were the only two women in history to receive the Abe Olman Publisher Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.[9]

The company's copyrights consist of classics, Charlie Chaplin songs, and the soundtracks to early Disney motion pictures such as Snow White, Pinocchio, and Dumbo.[10] Its office is in New York City.

Legal issues[edit]

Woods v. Bourne 60 F. 3d 978 (2d Cir. 1995)[edit]

In 1995, Bourne Co was taken to court by Harry Woods over his song, "When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along". The University of California School of law noted that "This case involves an obscure area of copyright law" regarding derivative works derived from the original song and Woods' right to terminate the license under Section 304 of the Copyright Act. The appeal court sided with the defendant.[11][12]

Bourne v. Walt Disney Co., 68 F.3d 621 (2d Cir. 1995)[edit]

In 1995, Bourne Co took the Walt Disney Company to court over alleged copyright infringement over (a) "Disney's sale of videocassette recordings featuring Bourne's copyrighted compositions from the motion pictures Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio, and (b) "related to Disney's use of the Compositions in television commercials". The jury rejected Bourne's claim of video copyright infringement, but found in favour of Bourne's claim over the use of the material in TV commercials.[13][14][15]

Phil Spector case[edit]

In 1997, the British newspaper, the Independent, noted that:

"Phil Spector won back the United Kingdom copyright to his first hit, "To Know Him is to Love Him" [and] that Bourne Music had no rights to the copyright after December 1986."[16]


While Bourne Music's website notes that it aims "to maintain the integrity and strength of the copyrights entrusted to our care whether they are beloved standards or lesser-known songs",[17] the company has been criticized for demanding copyright fees from a 10-year-old girl who used the song "Smile" in an online charity video.[18]

Notable music rights[edit]

Charlie Chaplin songs[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Billboard, 12 Nov 2005 (page 61)
  2. ^ "3-million Estate us up for Auction", New York Times, Oct 13, 1960
  3. ^ "Max Winslow Dead", New York Times, June 9, 1942
  4. ^ Alec Wilder, James T. Maher, American popular song: the great innovators, 1900-1950, Edition 2, Publisher Oxford University Press, 1972, ISBN 0-19-501445-6, ISBN 978-0-19-501445-7, 536 pages (page 92)
  5. ^ Laurence Bergreen, As thousands cheer: the life of Irving Berlin, Publisher Da Capo Press, 1996, ISBN 0-306-80675-4, ISBN 978-0-306-80675-9, 702 pages (page 464)
  6. ^ Standard Edition reprint of "Little Brown Gal," originally issued in 1935
  7. ^ "White Christmas," 1942
  8. ^ Billboard, 14 May 1994. (page 19)
  9. ^
  10. ^ Tim Hollis, Greg Ehrbar, Mouse tracks: the story of Walt Disney Records, Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2006, ISBN 1-57806-849-5, ISBN 978-1-57806-849-4, 221 pages (page 7)
  11. ^ "Woods v. Bourne 60 F. 3d 978 (2d Cir. 1995) Archived April 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine." at UCLA School of Law website, retrieved 13 Dec 2011.
  12. ^ "No. 571, Docket 94-7421. - WOODS v. BOURNE CO - US 2nd Circuit" at website, retrieved 13 Dec 2011
  13. ^ "Nos. 1578, 1579, Dockets 94-7793, 94-7847. - BOURNE v. WALT DISNEY COMPANY RKO 100 - US 2nd Circuit" via website, retrieved 13 Dec 2011.
  14. ^ Donald E. Biederman, Law and business of the entertainment industries, Edition 5, revised, Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, ISBN 0-275-99205-5, ISBN 978-0-275-99205-7, 1022 pages (page 363)
  15. ^ "Top Court Nixes Appeal", Billboard 22 Jun 1996 (page 36)
  16. ^ "Spector wins back rights to Fifties classic", The Independent, Saturday 22 March 1997. Retrieved 14 Dec 2011
  17. ^ "About Us", Bourne Co. Music Publishers, website, retrieved 17 Nov 2011
  18. ^ Brooke, Chris (2010-07-21). "U.S. publisher hits schoolgirl, 10, with £1,300 bill for using Chaplin song in her charity video". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 

External links[edit]