Here’s a great article from The Daily Signal that talks about the change of status:
Remember, though, that the rights we’re talking about here are the publishing rights (the right to use the sheet music). Though you may now be allowed to sing the song on screen for free, if you use a particular recording of it, then recording rights will still kick in.
Of course, this news means that the chapter in my book Film Production Management 101 on Legal clearances is now out of date on one count. Sigh… But that goes to show you that you always need legal advice from a proper legal source for all the latest and greatest news on rights and clearances.
In the meantime, have a happy public domain birthday!