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Viewing topic "A different copyright question…."

     
Posted on: February 16, 2009 @ 08:54 AM
TonyPhillips
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I’m assuming if I want to copyright a composition, I would copyright the physical charts; ie, the printed musical notation.

Thus, any RECORDING of that material would be a derivative work and would also be copyrighted as a performance of said composition.

Am I off base?  Do I need to copyright both the printed score AND a recording of it?

....  Ah, I think I finally found an FAQ that supports only needing the printed composition:

IX. Works Existing in More Than One Medium

Editions are listed below in descending order of preference.

Newspapers, dissertations and theses, newspaper-formatted serials
Microform
Printed matter
All other materials
Printed matter
Microform
Phonorecord

So printed scores would be better than Phonorecords of a composition.  Right? 

Sorry folks, I’m new at this… Just want to make sure I correctly protect myself…

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Posted on: February 16, 2009 @ 10:34 AM
scotch
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A printed score is certainly a clearer representation--assuming it’s complete and correct, but it’s only a representation. If you’re going to be actually selling a recording, you need to copyright the recording as well.

(A certain correspondent here sometime ago remarked that he’d copyrighted a song back in the fifties and hadn’t renewed it, which means that its copyright expired in the eighties. Even if he had renewed it, under the old law it would have either expired by now or would be due to expire in a few years--depending when in the fifties he copyrighted it. If the old law were still in effect, copyrighting it now would give it potentially another half-century.

This state of affairs was not lost on professional songwriters and composers, who would only rarely copyright an unpublished piece. Despite the change in the law, this remains a distinction: Amateur songwriters tend unnecessarily to register unpublished pieces; professional songwriters and composers tend not to register unpublished pieces. As I’ve pointed out before, vanity-registration accounts for the incredible glut at the copyright office and the slowness with which submissions are recorded.)

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Posted on: February 16, 2009 @ 11:44 AM
TonyPhillips
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Are you saying you improvised your chords--and that’s why you don’t know what they are? I would certainly never trust a machine to identify them correctly. If you tell me what notes are in them, I can take a stab at identifying them here.

I think it’s more of stylistic question than “What chord am I playing” thing, but that has something to do with it, too.

Let me pose a different example; the classic jass ii V7 I progression…

It could be written, perhaps, as Dm, G7, Cmaj.  As a performer, I know that I can vamp over ALL of those chords using notes from the C Major scale.  (the Dm7 being a D Dorian Minor (C scale), the G7 being a G Mixolydian (also a C scale)… They’re, note-wise, C major scales...)

But, going the REVERSE of that is what I don’t grasp.  If I hear someone playing notes that are all 100% within a D-Major scale, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the chord I would note would be D-Major throughout.  “TECHNICALLY” 100% correct, but “STYLISTICALLY” very boring and not of much help to the improvisor.

I’m hampered somewhat by the fact that I play by ear.  When I am comfortable with the changes, and can “hear” where things are going, I don’t usually need to think about the chords to hear the chord tones in my head.  I do understand the theory of this stuff, but practice in the reverse direction is something I’ve not done before. 

Now, SONAR does have a pretty good Chord Recognition plug-in.  It doesn’t shoe-horn the user into only textbook chords; it lists usually 2 or 3 alternates with different voicings…

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Posted on: February 16, 2009 @ 01:44 PM
scotch
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You appear to have accidentally posted in the wrong thread. I’ll respond there.

I just want to point out here that what I said in parentheses is for general consumption and does not apply to your situation as you’ve explained it elsewhere. You’ve already got this thing on the Internet where people can presumably copy it, and you’ve been asked to provide your own copies in return for cash. That’s the sort of situation that calls for registration.

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Posted on: February 16, 2009 @ 01:55 PM
MoGut
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I’ve often wondered if professional music productions get ideas from amateur youtube videos or audios downloadable online. I could only imagine its happened on many ocassions.

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Posted on: February 16, 2009 @ 02:15 PM
scotch
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I this “get ideas” a euphemism?

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Posted on: February 16, 2009 @ 02:28 PM
MoGut
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Yeah I suppose.

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Posted on: February 16, 2009 @ 09:48 PM
DavePolich
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Having copywritten many songs over the past few years, I can tell
you exactly what you need to do.

Get the SR copyright form. It’s available from the U.S. Copyright Office - http://www.copyright.gov. Don’t waste time submitting the printed score. The Copyright Office is buried in enough paperwork already, it will likely be misplaced, but more importantly paper deteriorates and has to be stored in a drawer, while audio files can be stored on a big server.

Follow the instructions for submitting your tune. You’ll need to
send in a CD of the tune, plus the SR form, listing the author or authors, and date of copyright. “Date of copyright” is when you
wrote the tune. The term “wrote” means when you came up with
the idea, technically. I usually use the date I first recorded it.

Once you submit the SR form, along withe the CD, it takes about
six to eight months for the Copyright Office to send you an
acknowledgement of receipt.

The SR form actually is better than the PA form because it takes care of two things - who authored the song, and the recording
of the song. Bear in mind that the SR form only refers to THAT
specific recording on the CD you send. You are copyrighting a
specific track. If I want to record your tune, and I get your permission, I will own the SR copyright for MY recording, but
not the “writer’s” copyright.

Since so many bands and artists don’t read OR write music
these days, most of the copyrights that are handled by the Copyright Office involve the SR form.

Regarding “chord changes”, etc., blah-blah - here’s where that
becomes too much of a gray area, and why it doesn’t matter.
Say, for example, someone releases an electronic track with
percussive type sounds and some weird atonal synth pads and some
vocals that are half-spoken, half-sung. What chord changes could
be applied to that? And how would you put that music down on
paper? You can’t. Chord changes could only be chord types, since
other artists or bands or whatever may decide to play your song
in a differentt key. But what most people fail to grasp is this -
when you copyright printed music, you are copyrighting a printed work. You are not copyrighting the song. Even an arrangement cannot be copyright-protected. But an actual recording can, because it is a “fixed medium”.

For many years, sheet music was the only way to document a tune.
But that went away with the advent of the modern recording era.

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Posted on: February 18, 2009 @ 11:02 AM
scotch
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[DavePolich]...when you copyright printed music, you are copyrighting a printed work. You are not copyrighting the song.

That rather depends on what you consider the “song”. A recording is only a facsimile of one particular performance, or realization, of a piece. As I said before, if you intend to sell a particular recording, then definitely register that recording, but if you want the piece itself protected, you are much better off registering a complete and accurate written representation.

Imagine a court case. If someone electronically reproduces your recording, that’s one thing, a thing registering the recording should take care of. If someone plagiarizes the piece that’s quite another thing, and in this case you will want to be able to point in writing to the similarities. Having only a recording will complicate matters in various ways, one way having to do with the distinction between a realization of the work and the work itself.

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Posted on: February 18, 2009 @ 11:41 AM
TonyPhillips
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I guess that’s when the Attorneys earn their keep… The code is vague…

It says, paraphrased, one does NOT need to re-register or update a copyright if only minor, editorial changes are made.  However, if the work is substantively changed, it must be re-registered. 

It gives examples in the context of printed TEXT… If minor changes are made (e.g., errata corrected), no problem.  If new chapters are added, it’s a new work. 

So, it begs the question (and one that’s surely easy to wrap around the axle...) If I copyright a score, it’s fixed in key.  If I TRANSPOSE it, I think WE would agree it’s substantially the same work.  But how does the Copyright Office or, more importantly, the courts see it?  If it’s transposed, not one note in time is the same as the original; all the intervals remain constant, though…

I guess one could analogize that with translating a text from one language to another; the translation must be authorized by the original copyright holder, but I believe that the translation may also be copyrighted separately.  Not sure…

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Posted on: February 22, 2009 @ 01:18 PM
DavePolich
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The real world answer is this - copyright technically belongs to the creator of the work at the moment it is fixed onto a recognizable medium. What you are doing with the Copyright Office is “registering” the copyright.

Real-world answer no. 2 - the Copyright Office doesn’t recognize a key change as a substantial change in the work. Think of how many songs are recorded in different keys, with different arrangements.

Copyright does NOT extend to an arrangement. If the arrangement is printed then the copyright applies to the printed document - the sheet music(which must be PUBLISHED). But if I re-arrange a well-known song, I cannot copyright my arrangement because it is a concept. If I RECORD my re-arranged version, the copyright protection (SR copyright) extends to the recording itself. But it does not assign me the “writer’s” copyright, or the copyright to the song itself.

Real-world answer no. 3 - 99.99% of the time, permission to re-arrange and record someone else’s tune is done after the fact, when the track is released for commercial download or sale on CD. In almost every case, except perhaps where someone has changed the lyrics substantially to include obscene material, the authors of a song want to see more income from their songs and will approve a different arrangement and recording of their tune.

Real-world answer no. 4 - court cases involving copyright infringement will ALWAYS involve introduction of recordings of a song, because there is no guarantee jurors (or anyone in the court, for that matter) can read sheet music.

Real-world answer no. 5 - unless you’re already a superstar songwriter or artist, there is no reason to be concerned about copyright infringement of anything you write. Or even much concern about going through the hassle of copyright registration in the first place. I agree with Scotch that there is a glut of tracks that are basically just vanity experiments that end up cluttering the databases of the Copyright Office.

When people want to “steal” ideas from other songs, they usually go to existing hit songs first. That’s what I do - I’ve stolen plenty of ideas, and turned them around or upside down just enough to get away with it. Every songwriter that achieves commercial success does that.

Here’s a quote from a radio interview with Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick:

MODERATOR: “The song “I Love You Honey But I Hate Your Friends’ sounds suspiciously like a Rod Stewart tune…

NIELSEN: “Oh, it’s a Stewart rip-off, for sure.”

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Posted on: March 03, 2009 @ 07:41 PM
TonyPhillips
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Well, after weeks of further research and discussion, I took the “Safe” road, I guess.  I copyrighted both the printed score and the recording. 

Incidentally, I didn’t have to mail anything.  I did the whole process online using eCO, since it is, at present, “Unpublished,” and only disseminated electronically, so I could also upload the material instead of mailing it.

The process took me a few hours, and cost $70 total… which I’ve already recouped.  It took me FAR more time to figure out how to securely sell the material and make it immediately downloadable…

It’s amazing to me how “Closed” the market seems.  I asked several folks in the “industry” for guidance on pricing.  Every single one of them was wishy-washy (except for the casual advice proffered here), and instead tried to represent me.  No thanks…

I did lots of web searching, and decided to sell the background track and printed solo score for personal use for about $10.  And if they want the right to publicly perform (not recording rights), $40.  I’ve bought several jazz charts for $40-50, so I think it’s a fair price, and that didn’t include session musicians.. ;)

Hey, I’m just snazzed that people wanted to buy the thing.  It was a personal project for my daughter that just must have struck a chord with other folks.  :)

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