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BS: Copyright and folk

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McGrath of Harlow 10 Nov 99 - 09:36 PM
Brendy 10 Nov 99 - 10:10 PM
lloyd61 10 Nov 99 - 10:23 PM
10 Nov 99 - 11:20 PM
Vixen 11 Nov 99 - 08:29 AM
AKS 11 Nov 99 - 08:57 AM
Bert 11 Nov 99 - 09:26 AM
Chet W. 11 Nov 99 - 12:35 PM
Bert 11 Nov 99 - 12:38 PM
GutBucketeer 11 Nov 99 - 01:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Nov 99 - 01:37 PM
lloyd61 11 Nov 99 - 01:54 PM
Bert 11 Nov 99 - 01:57 PM
lamarca 11 Nov 99 - 02:18 PM
Vixen 11 Nov 99 - 02:22 PM
lamarca 11 Nov 99 - 02:25 PM
Chet W. 11 Nov 99 - 02:42 PM
Margo 11 Nov 99 - 08:03 PM
Brendy 11 Nov 99 - 08:39 PM
Alice 11 Nov 99 - 09:03 PM
Brendy 11 Nov 99 - 09:15 PM
12 Nov 99 - 10:09 AM
T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 12 Nov 99 - 10:24 AM
Anglofile 12 Nov 99 - 05:36 PM
Terry Allan Hall 13 Nov 99 - 09:08 AM
T in Oklahoma (Okeimockbird) 13 Nov 99 - 10:38 AM
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GospelPicker (inactive) 25 Sep 00 - 12:31 PM
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Uncle_DaveO 25 Sep 00 - 02:08 PM
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T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 25 Sep 00 - 08:05 PM
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Subject: Copyright and folk
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Nov 99 - 09:36 PM

Several people have suggested in the "Serious BS: HFA/NMPA Round 2" thread that there is something to be said for copyright in relation to folksongs, or at least modern songs in the folk tradition.

This is an interesting topic, that I think deserves a thread of its own, away from the legal ins and outs of this particular dispute.

So I'm starting this thread up because I think it might be a good idea to keep the other one one dealing directly with how Max should respond to this pressure from Foxy and Co, and how 'Catters can help out.

As someone who has written a fair number of songs, I would see it as unfair if someone else were to take one of my songs and make lots of money out of it without giving me a fair cut. (I do not think this is very likely to happen, though you never can tell.)

On the other hand I would think it grotesque to suggest that anybody who felt like singing my songs for their own sake should be obliged to ask my permission, or should have to pay me something - or should feel inhibited from changing the words or tune of a song to fit their taste or style.

The whole essence of folk music is that it changes as it is used. There is no "right" version or "wrong version". There may be an "original version", and it may even be possible to trace it. And all of us will prefer one version to another, or we will take a bit crom one verson, and a bit from another, and make it our own, till somebody else picks it up and changes it again - and that is how folk songs change and grow.

And all that is quite at odds with the thinking of copyright lawyers. (And it is also at odds with the thinking of some antiquarian style folklorists - but that is another story.)How that works out is very impoertant - but I also think we nneed to think about the principles ourselves. When you're in the right, you need to know why. And if you aren't in the right, you need to know where you are wrong.

Even if no one else joins in, this is already quite a long thread. Sorry about that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Brendy
Date: 10 Nov 99 - 10:10 PM

Yeah, you're right enough on that one I think
I would think it very conceited of me to insist on this and that criteria being fulfilled before someone could get to sing one of my humble efforts.
On the other hand I would call it theft if one were to capitalise on it at the expense of me!

If I were to be cynical about the whole copyright thing, I would suggest that quite a lot of the laws enacted to 'protect' the artist serve only to give work to the lawyers who have to earn their living somehow.

Go around any real folk music gathering, and you will hear musicians tell the stories of the tune they have just played, or are about to:
"I learned this one from me da who learned it from.....", or
"I got this from the singing of....."

It'll be a sad day when the musical Thought Police start coming around the pubs with their suits and ties demanding their 7 1/2p from the musicians for every song or tune played that happens to have been written by somebody else.

This kind of action is not in keeping with the SPIRIT of the musical tradition, and the composer still languishes at the end of the cheque handing out queue whatever income is generated 'on our behalf'.No man, right on!

I am reminded here of Van Morrison's "Big Time Operators" from the 'Too long in exile' album, and it reinforces my belief that there are some nasty pieces of work out there who don't really have our interests at heart.

The world, unfortunately, is too much with us late and soon.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: lloyd61
Date: 10 Nov 99 - 10:23 PM

McGarth of Harlow…..You a right on the mark.

As a senior amateur, my greatest thrill is hearing some one performing one of my songs, but the thrill is ten fold when the artist announces where they got the song. A client of mine said they were shocked when my name was mentioned at a folk festival he was attending. The festival was closed with one of my songs. This was a great Ego Trip for me.

Several of my songs are out there in the hands of friends, will they make any real money with my music? No, but if some one did make substantial money I don't know how I would feel. If they are a friend, I hope I would just be happy for them. The problem is what happens when the music gets into the hand of a third party. This summer one of my songs was given to a friend of a friend to be performed at a local festival, this caused a problem for my Ego, I wanted credit.

I wrote my music for my use. Never did I think anyone else would want to use my material. Now I don't know how to deal with this new problem. I don't have answers, only questions.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From:
Date: 10 Nov 99 - 11:20 PM

When the artist benefits it is fine but the www is very informing and I find that the bulk of profit from 'pop' songs goes not to the artist - read some contracts if you don't believe me-


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Vixen
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 08:29 AM

Interesting Thread!

I'm in favor of having as many people as possible singing my songs.

It's a thrill for me to hear another musician play my music. I want my songs still kicking around and getting sung when I'm old, older, dead, and long long gone.

On the other hand, capitalism being what it is, I'd feel mighty sore if Joni Mitchell arranged one of my songs and made it a platinum hit, and didn't give me anything substantive.

Of course, as the old song (from the Pajama Game???) goes: "seven-and-a-half cents doesn't mean a helluva lot. seven-and-a-half cents doesn't mean a thing!"

It's a tough game to play, but it gets tougher if lawyers make the rules!

my US$0.02, fwiw

V


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: AKS
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 08:57 AM

The basics of copyright are very simple indeed:

1 author has the copyright automatically in the first place, no claims, applications or anything needed

2 copyright is guaranteed until the end of the year the author dies PLUS seventy (70) years after that (according to the international agreement, I don't know whether the US has signed/ratified it yet)

3 after that 'the object of cr' becomes free for anybody to use as she/he wishes, that is PD

The copyright owner can choose, of course, to give permission to treat 'the fruit of his/her creative talent' LIKE PD (note that it does not really make it PD, the owner still has the right to second thoughts).

Here comes the bother; the cr, as long as it exists, can be transferred - partially or as a whole - to be someone else's property as an object of agreement or bargain, or it can be inherited. And this has led to the inevitable that 'exclusive and profitable' publishings contracts have been signed (and still are being signed) without really understanding what the future consequences are from the author's point of view.

Some of advice for those who have 'not erred' yet would be as: 1 Keep the copyright yourself, so you're the one to decide on the use of your 'product', be it PD-like or not. 2 If you are interested in getting royalties, get someone - HFA, eg;-) - to keep an eye on them for you. Collecting royalties is a mission impossible for an individual. 3 And, finally, make any (possible) contract with any publisher to cover only the particular project you're working on and nothing else, as far as the cr is concerned.

If I'm not mistaking, over there in the US, you still have an issue going on against prolonging the copyright protection period up to 70 or even more years. A most supportable campaign is that!

AKS from Pohjois-Karjala (North Karelia)


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Bert
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 09:26 AM

Many months ago I started a thread in a similar vein and got quite a lot of flack; mainly from folks who wanted EVERYTHING for free.
I had suggested tha we should make some more reasonable rules for copyrights owned by Mudcatters. Sort of a Mudcat code.

What I had suggested was that in addition to the standard copyright law we say...

1) Anyone can sing our songs in any non-profit situation. So if you're at a circle or open mike that's OK.
2)You can sing our songs if you're a starving artist who is singing part time or struggling to make it.
3)If you make a CD (or any other type of recording) you don't have to pay royalties on the first five hundred that you sell. After that it's standard royalties.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Chet W.
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 12:35 PM

I'm with all of you above all the way except for that Mudcat rule #3. If someone sells 500 copies of a CD, they would owe me $30 if they used one of my songs (more if it's the featured or title cut). As I've been looking into making a CD lately, I know that by the time you've sold 500 self-produced CDs you've already made a tidy little profit, so sending me $30 should not be a bother. I certainly intend to pay royalties on mine to those that are entitled, which won't be much because most of what I do is either PD or original anyway. If anybody sings my songs while making little or no profit, as most of us do, please feel free. Sincerely. But don't capitalize on me, not even a little bit beyond that. I guess we'll hear soon from that crowd that wants it all for free, and I say again, they're perfectly free to write their own songs and take all the profits. There is no freedom without responsibility.

Liberal and generous, Chet


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Bert
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 12:38 PM

You're right Chet, but $30 is little more than a case of beer and I don't think it's worth collecting from fellow Mudcatters.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 01:25 PM

I know several "clubs" and/or internet discussion groups that have made member contributed tapes to share among the groups. The Cyberpluckers autoharp list is one and the contributions on their tapes are fantastic. The tapes have been distributed at cost to the members that want them until they run out. In effect it is an extended song circle. The contributions on these tapes were limited to Public Domain items, or the performers original works. This did constrain what was included.

I was wondering how these types of projects would fit into what you are describing above. They are more like home movies than anything else. There has been a vigorous discussion in the past on the Cyberpluckers with some very strong opinions on the copyright/intellectual property side being given, and vice-versa.

JAB


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 01:37 PM

Anyone agree with me about accepting that it's ok when someonme else changes the song you wrote? After all, that's the folk process, and it's going to happen no matter what.

The complication is, how many changes does it take before it turns into a new song? And what about when Mary writes a song, which is a bit like some traditional song but different as well; Jim sings it, and changes it round a bit; Liam does the same. And then Charlie changes it around, puts it on a record, and sells a million.

The truth is, songs don't really fit in easily with copyright and property rights, any more than jokes do. I doubt if there is a simple solution you can write down on paper. You just have to have honest people doing what feels right. And that's asking a hell of a lot it seems.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: lloyd61
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 01:54 PM

Your right, $30.00 would not be to much to ask, but in the past, for a friend, I was just happy having my name on the CD, but I still wonder how I would feel if my song was picked up off the CD by a third party and recorded without crediting me by name or dollars. I feel as I need a little protection, but I am at a loss as now to protect my material. Perhaps a Mudcat Network is the answer,lets keep talking. I have asked before, What about a Mudcat Publishing Company?


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Bert
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 01:57 PM

I've no problem with folks changing any of my songs. You pretty much have to change any song that you sing just to get it to suit your own style of singing.

Ask Katlaughing, I changed her song around quite a lot. It is still recognizably her song though and I give her the credit for it every time I sing it. If I were to record it though, I'd ask first and I'd make sure she got her cut.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: lamarca
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 02:18 PM

An interesting aspect of copyright, traditional music and highly paid performers:

In the 60's, Paul Simon hung out in England with a motley assortment of British folk musicians, including Davey Graham and Martin Carthy. Later, he recorded Graham's composition, "Angie", and Carthy's guitar arrangement of "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme". Graham is credited for his composition (don't know if Simon paid him royalties), but there is no credit for Carthy's arrangement of the traditional Child ballad, even though Simon copped his guitar licks note for note (and interwove them with his own composition, "Canticle"). Yes, the ballad and the tune are traditional, but the specific guitar arrangement was not. I never heard if Simon sent Carthy a cut of the by now spectacular profits from sales of the S&G album "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme".

Similarly, I have read that Bob Dylan recorded Nic Jones' arrangement of the traditional song "Canaday-I-O", again without attribution. I find this especially egregious, as Jones is no longer able to play and earn money as a musician on his own.

Jimmy Paige and Led Zeppelin were taken to court for lifting Bert Jansch's arrangement of "Blackwaterside" - I think successfully.

So even with traditional ballads and songs, there is a case to be made for copyrighting intellectual property rights in a specific arrangement. If a talented musician and/or songwriter has put their creative efforts into arranging a traditional or public domain tune or song, I feel they deserve credit for their work (at the very least) if someones else performs that particular piece, and a share of the money if the performance makes money. In the great majority of cases with folk music, the money involved will never amount to much, but extending the courtesy of crediting someone else's creative muse is vital.

Beyond copyright, I think it is important to give credit to the folks who turned you on to a particular song as well as the song's author or source. For instance, I sing a great song written by Andy Mitchell about the death of the fishing industry in Scotland, which I learned from Sara Grey. I never would have found this great song if Sara hadn't inspired me to learn it, so I always try to introduce it by saying "It's by Andy Mitchell, and I learned it from Sara Grey." I've given neat songs I've found to other folks and received no credit for my taste, scholarship or song-finding, and find that to be sort of hurtful. As conveyers of tradition, I think that passing along the source(s) of your songs is important, too!


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Vixen
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 02:22 PM

Bert, I dimly remember that thread (CRS is indiscriminate, you see) and can't for the life of me find it or remember what I might have contributed to it, but your idea suits me fine. Tim and I are officially copyrighting all our originals ourselves, to establish date of record in case we have to fight some megalith corporation for our cut (yeah, well, I can dream, can't I?). Otherwise, we want credit where it's due, and cash when our credit helped make a profit for a recording.

my US$0.02, fwiw

V


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: lamarca
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 02:25 PM

I've found that Sandy and Caroline Paton, Ed Trickett, Gordon Bok, Art Thieme and almost anyone associated with Folk Legacy go out of their way to credit their sources...


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Chet W.
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 02:42 PM

I know $30 is not a lot, but I feel very strongly about intellectual property, partly because of the unconscionable violations cited above. And since we're not talking a lot of money here, I think we owe it to each other (not to mention bound by law) to pay for material used to make a profit. An analogy I used before is that I would certainly lend my truck to a friend to move or whatever, but if he went into business and was making money off of my truck, which I worked hard to get, it's just not right that I wouldn't get a share of the profits. I wouldn't do that to anyone else, and I wouldn't appreciate having it done to me. Songwriter royalties do not keep anyone from performing or selling recordings. It's such a small part of the whole financial consideration.

Chet


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Margo
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 08:03 PM

Hey Chet, I'm with you. I was delighted to find out how simple it is to take care of royalties when you record someone else's song. I think there is no arguement as to whether or not we ought to pay the royalties. It is law. For better or worse, it is law. I think the intent of the law is good and fair. The bending of it, as has been described by Kat, is certainly questionable and (to me) a gray area. Margarita


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Brendy
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 08:39 PM

There is a reasonably simple way of copywritng your own material.

1: Put the offending material onto a CD, DAT, or some other sort of tape.
2: Go to the Post Office.
3: Seal it and send it to yourself, or even better, your lawyer, by Registered Post.
4: Go home and wait.
5: When the mail arrives at your place or your lawyer's, DON'T OPEN IT. Never open it unless you have to prove something in a courtroom - and dont forget to get a receipt when you send it.

The legal eagles among you can figure out the implications of doing that; how much legal water it would hold etc, and it is true that I have never put the practise to the test myself.
But I am reliably informed (I hope) that signatures, dates, and receipt numbers take a lot of beating, especially if the case is about who wrote what, and when.

All the Georgie,
Bren.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Alice
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 09:03 PM

This practice is what my mentor called her "back up box". I worked as her assistant in the state Governor's office before going to college, and she is now employed by the City of New York. Anything that happens that she may be called to testify about or need proof of the date, she documents and sends a copy to herself, registered. It all goes unopened into her "back up box" at home, until the time it may be needed as proof.

As far as copyright, I have to deal with this in the arena of illustrations and graphics, not just lyrics. Any good selling design on a teeshirt or cap is bound to be ripped off. I have had to send cease and desist letters and demand payment from people who have stolen my designs and started using them on their product without paying me. I can produce the "first date of publication" from the records of the manufacturer who paid me for the first reproduction rights. If I have to deal with this, I also file the copyright with the copyright office. Now the fee is up to $30. I always put the date with © and my name or initials on anything that will be reproduced.

alice


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Brendy
Date: 11 Nov 99 - 09:15 PM

There's that $30 raising it's old head again!
But seriously. I can see the problem with the T-shirts etc.
I saw a programme on the BBC the other night; a sort of look back at the sporting millennium.
Dick Fosbury's name came up. He who pioneered the art of jumping backwards over a high bar.
The point was made that it it is well nigh impossible to patent something like that.
How does one?

Seriously depressed.

Brendy.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From:
Date: 12 Nov 99 - 10:09 AM

Bo Diddley once tried to copyright the rythm which most of his songs, at least in later years, employed. A landmark decision said that a rythm could not be copyrighted. Neither can a title. I can write and publish a song called "Can't Buy Me Love" and there's nothing that Michael Jackson ("the cute Beatle") could do about it. The practice of mailing yourself a copy of a song, graphic, etc. is worth, in a legal proceding, about the same as a witness who can testify on what date you showed it to them. It's better than nothing, but if you're in a position to file cease and desist and recover royalties, it's a whole lot better to have it registered. I don't register all of my songs, but if one sounds like it might make some profit for somebody, I register it. So far I'm doing better than breaking even, a little.

Chet


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 12 Nov 99 - 10:24 AM

Mailing a leadsheet to yourself isn't considered to be a very reliable way of establishing a record of when the song existed. A better way, if you don't care to register with the Copyright Office (which I understand is strongly recommended for anything likely to be commercially exploited) is to get a copy notarized.

This is, of course, strictly private opinion, not legal advice.

T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Anglofile
Date: 12 Nov 99 - 05:36 PM

Sounds like most of us want the world to sing our songs if we're the one getting them out there, but if it's Joni Mitchell or Allison Krauss or Alanis Morisette then we want a piece of the platinum action. Too bad we can get Dave Mallett on here to talk about how he felt when John Denver made his Garden Song a household number.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 13 Nov 99 - 09:08 AM

What chaps my ass is when someone copyrights a trad. song as their own...for example "House of the Risin' Sun", which Alan Price claimed coyright to...it was recorded at least 3x before he copyrighted it...I have Rambling Jack Elliot's version on vinyl (late '50s), and Bob Dylan recorded it on his 1st album (early 60s). The "Animals", with whom Price was the bassist, basically snagged Dylan's arrangement. Also, I have a Lomax book from the mid- to late-40s, with HOTRS in it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: T in Oklahoma (Okeimockbird)
Date: 13 Nov 99 - 10:38 AM

As usual on the web, nothing in this post is legal advice. Nothing in this post establishes a lawyer-client relationship. It is just private opinion. And I'm not even a lawyer.

There are a number of different practices that can be called "copyrighting a traditional song." The most egregious is when a publisher sticks a boilerplate copyright notice on purely pd material. In theory such copyright notices are pure bluff, but I don't blame anyone for shying away.

Then there is what is known as a compilation copyright. If I compile a book of pure p.d. songs, and publish them in pure p.d. versions, my "selection, coordination and arrangement" of songs, if it is original, is copyrightable. In practice I take this to mean that anyone can legally copy any single song from my songbook for any purpose; no one can legally copy my songbook cover-to-cover and sell it in a competing edition; and the coordinated copying of some of the songs but not all of them is a gray area which might be legal in come circumstances and not others.

Then there is derivative-work copyright. If I take a traditional melody (say, "Greensleeves") and change notes and rhythms to make a derived melody (call it "Greensleeves and Boston Cream Pies") then my copyright only applies to my original modifications to the underlying melody. In theory anyone can take my melody from my published edition and reverse engineer it to recover the original. In practice this is not always easy unless the copyist has independent knowledge of the original in the first place. I call this the "derivative work deconvolution problem." Reverse-engineering a derivative work would be much easier in situations where the p.d. component was intact and easily separable if arrangers would word their copyright notices precisely: "Harmony copyright 20xx by Joe Schmoe. The melody is in the public domain and may be copied freely." But this practice is rare.

Some of the publishing industry's overreaching practices are discussed in this law review article by Prof. Paul Heald, and in the article of which an abstract can be found here.

Sifting the copyrighted from the uncopyrighted components of derivative works would be easier if the term of copyright were shorter, since then the documentation of the P.D. components would be more readily available.

T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 12:11 PM

Professor Heald's paper "REVIVING THE RHETORIC OF THE PUBLIC INTEREST: CHOIR DIRECTORS, COPY MACHINES, AND NEW ARRANGEMENTS OF PUBLIC DOMAIN MUSIC", mentioned by Okiemockbird above, can now be found complete at http://www.sneezy.org/clarinet/Misc/46DLJ241noframe.html


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: GospelPicker (inactive)
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 12:31 PM

Any time someone cares whether they make a buck on a song or not, they have gone past the meaning fo writing or arranging or borrowing a song in the first place. Songs are meant to be shared and loved, not bought and sold like cattle. I may never make money as a songwriter; If someone else does with one of my songs... sure, i'd like a piece of the action. But US HONORABLE AND UPSTANDING PEOPLE MUST REMEMBER... A JERK OR A THIEF CANNOT BE EXPECTED TO ACT LIKE ANYTHING BUT WHAT HE OR SHE IS... A THIEF WHO DOES NOT STEAL IS NOT A THIEF... A PERSON WHO STEALS YOUR SONG AND CAPITALIZES GREATLY IS NOT A SUCCESS, THEY ARE A THIEF. DON'T EVER EXPECT ANYONE TO GET "ABOVE THEIR RAISING".

GospelPicker @:()[+]


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: mousethief
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 12:52 PM

Don't expect anyone to get above their raising? Gospelpicker, where is there room for redemption in that?

Alex
O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Naemanson
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 01:17 PM

This may be thread creep but I am curious.

Let me start by making the unequivocal statement that an artist should be paid for his/her work. If you write a song you deserve to be paid when someone else profits from that piece of music.

That being said let me ask this. What is it that a NAME brings to a piece of music that the rest of us cannot. Jane Singer Songwriter may write a great little song that is very popular on the coffeehouse circuit but when Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, or Bruce Springsteen records it suddenly it's dynamite. What have they done that Jane couldn't do? They obviously make the bucks on that song and owe a protion of that money to Jane but is there some intangible that needs to be considered?


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 02:08 PM

Well, they make the consumer end product. The man on the street couldn't care less about Jane's fine song unless he gets it in a final package. If Jane is not talented enough, willing enough, well-connected enough, knowlegeable enough, economically advantaged enough to produce a consumer good for the public, her fine song will languish (commercially speaking).

The consumer pays his dollars for what he receives, (let's say a CD) which as far as he sees is the product of the performing artist and the recording company. He may never see, let alone heed, Jane's credit as the songwriter, even if it's correctly given on the CD. The retailer has to have a cut, probably a distributor, the publisher (which may be the recording company), and of course the performer(s), and of course Jane.

Say the retail price is US$15. Is Jane ethically entitled to more than the retailer? If she hadn't written the song, there would be no $15 to split. But if the retailer didn't sell it there would be nothing either. If there's a distributor, somewhat the same can be said, although a distributor is not a NECESSARY step in the process. But there has to be a recording entity, maybe a separate publisher, and performing artist(s). And of course Jane.

Now realistically the publisher is the one pretty much controlling the flow of the money, and will have a BIG say in this process. So guess what? The publisher will get a nice piece of the traffic. If the publisher's marketing strategy is to merchandise the name of a big star, you know that the big star will get taken care of, or he/she won't play. If not a big star, the cost of promotion is likely to be relatively higher, seems to me.

In all of this process, Jane is at the least advantage because she has the least power to say no.

I don't know anything to say about the rights or wrongs of how Jane is treated or how much she gets, but the above are just SOME of the considerations that go into it.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: DougR
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 02:59 PM

Jane does get paid royalties on any recordings that make her song popular though, isn't that right Dave?

DougR


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 04:37 PM

Certainly ought to.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 08:05 PM

It's good to see Prof. Heald's "Choir Directors" paper on-line. I hope it stays up for a while.

My understanding of how record deals work is: the recording artists (not the songwriters) get the worst part of the deal, because they often have to pay promotion costs from their share--though songwriters are capable of signing bad contracts, too. The record label is in the strongest bargaining position and (again according to what I've been able to find out) get's the biggest share of the proceeds from sales of the record.

The songwriter in theory has an additional source of income besides mechanical royalties from the record: performance license fees from radio stations that play the record. In practice, the performance licensing system has its own problems.

T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: GospelPicker (inactive)
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 09:38 PM

MOUSETHIEF,

God's plan for our redemption does not change the fact that we are sinners... we are simply "sinners saved by grace." What I meant by "getting above one's raising" is that if they are saved, they are now being raised in spirit by The Lord Jesus Christ. Someone who continues in his sin of stealing or lying is not going to lose his salvation; he is, however, falling back into his old way, which by definition is his former way of having been "raised". When our lives are totally within God's will as He directs, we do not do those things. We simply have been raised better. The Bible says that the things of the world are to be rejected by those whose lives are filled with God's Spirit. Therefore, if someone finds it in him- or herself to commit these sins openly, there may be a chance that they have accepted the idea of God's plan for them but not God as Lord and Savior...

Anyway, this is stuff for another thread... please feel free to send me a message or email me at ReverendHarp@cs.com if you want to continue.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Kara
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 10:02 PM

Have you ever had the thrill of going into a pub in a strange country and hearing someone sing one of your songs, well I have and I likes it , I likes it so much I got the siner to show me what chords she was using as they were not the same as mine. If i was going to ay royalties and I do not suppose I will ever have $30 in the same place at one time unless I already have a predestined use for it, I would rather pay someone like a catter who wrote a song than say Bob Dylan
Kara


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 11:26 PM

I'm not vexed by songwriters or composers claiming copyright in their own original work in a traditional style. I'm not vexed by claims of copyright in modifications or adaptations of traditional material. After all, one of the purposes of the public domain is to be copied. I become vexed when someone who adapted a traditional air tries to claim copyright in the entire air, not just in the changes (see my passing mention of the "derivative work deconvolution problem" above). It may not always be possible to indicate where the unoriginal material leaves off and the original material begins, but I suspect we might practice this sort of careful line-drawing more than we do. And I become disappointed when someone who makes profitable use of the public domain turns around and supports unreasonable expansions in the scope or duration of copyright--saying, in effect, "it's OK for me to copy and modify the work of Victor Hugo, but I hope to put off as long as possible the day when anyone gets to do with my work what I have been able to do with Hugo's."

T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Martin Graebe
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 02:52 PM

Me, I'm quietly amused and pleased to see one of my songs in the Database marked as 'traditional' and then to find the same song on a US issued Pagan CD described as a 'traditional Englsih pagan song. I must be doing something right. In my best year I only ever made £25 in royalties on other peoples recordings of my songs - that's why I still have a day-job.

What is truly obscene is when collectors try to copyright the songs they have recorded from living song carriers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Mbo
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 03:07 PM

Gospelpicker, God's plan for our redemption does not change the fact that we are sinners... we are simply "sinners saved by grace."

Isn't that a little harsh way of looking at us & the world? My priest says it's a horrible thing when some someone says "I'm a sinner". What a horrible way to describe one's self. It implies that you do nothing but sin, and have no good in you, or any other distinguishing facet except that you sin. He said rather to say "I am a person who sins." No one is so evil that they are rejected by God. He will put his arms around you and take you home whether you are faithful, indifferent, or full of hate.

--Matt


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: mousethief
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 03:14 PM

This is getting awfully theological, but here goes nothing.

Gospelpicker: God's plan for our redemption does not change the fact that we are sinners

On the contrary. God's plan for our redemption is exactly this: to change the fact that we are sinners. To change us from being sinners to being saints. We are all at different points along that path, of course.

Mbo: I don't quite understand your concern. "Sinner" means "a person who sins." It doesn't imply "nothing but sin" to me; perhaps I'm not as touchy about these things as your priest.

Just my US$.02

Alex
O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Mbo
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 03:22 PM

Ha ha! The last thing my priest is is "touchy" he's VERY open about everything. But the difference between "sinner" and "a person who sins" is that there is the key word "person". Just as there is a difference between "a lover" and "a person who loves." Or "a guitarist" and "a person who plays guitar." Besides, how can anyone know the state of my soul by saying "we are sinners." I personally haven't sinned. And I'm sure that what you have done is not so bad as to classify you as sin incarnate.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: mousethief
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 03:31 PM

We shall have to agree to disagree, Mbo.

Alex
O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Mbo
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 03:35 PM

Another example..."I am a person who makes art." Which I do. But I am BY NO MEANS AT ALL an "artist." And I never will be one either.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: MMario
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 03:49 PM

There you are dead wrong, Mbo. you may not be an "A"rtist with a capital "a" - but you are an artist.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 03:56 PM

Maybe I should have an easier-going attitude about this. I don't.

The Library Of Congress Copyright Office
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

You can save your "nice appraoch" untill after you copyright your songs... It only costs $20.oo per CD(in America), and this is the only real protection you have. PERIOD! All of the 'implied' copyrights are loophole ready, AND, if your recording has 'enhancements', the recording engineer can claim certain copyright remunerations...have them sign off on the recording.

Protect yourself. Then be generous. ttr


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 09:53 PM

Thomas the Rhymer, some distinctions are necessary. One must distinguish between (1) copyright in a recording, and (2) copyright in the unerlying music on the record. Furthermore one must distinguish between (a) valid claims of copyright and (b) spurious claims. I have understood this thread to be about spurious or exaggerated claims of copyright in words and music (this is the topic of Prof. Heald's articles, linked above) rather than about valid claims of copyright in recordings.

You are right that a performer might have a valid claim of copyright in a recording of his own performance even of public domain music, (though a recent change in the law applying to "works for hire" made the "default lot" of recording artists harder--Congress is considering repealing this change) and that the recording artist should read all agreements carefully and take measures to document and protect any rights she might have.

Even when we take your advice to protect ourselves then be generous, (I would prefer the word "reasonable") we should keep in mind that there may be unintended consequences to the protection. We ourselves may be reasonable to those who wish to use our copyrights. But the term of copyright is now so crushingly long that we can't be sure that our offspring who inherit our copyrights, or whatever Megacorp ends up owning them, will be as generous as we are. This is one of the reasons why I say that everything good that copyright does, it does in a term of about 40 or fewer years. Everything bad that copyright does is made worse the longer the term exceeds this.

T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 26 Sep 00 - 10:58 PM

It seems to me that the ability to end copyright ownership is implicit to the ownership of it. Therefore, the copyright holder should be able to nullify the negative effects you speak of, T, by clearing it by 'donating' it to public domain, if that is your concern. However, the rules regarding what the length of the term of the copyright is,... thats a different story. I can see that you have valid points as to the unreliability of of what the government may say about term length, liability, and most of all, what constitutes a 'violation'.

We have a distinct interest as song collectors in keeping the public channels open for performance of songs we like... And, whats more, its almost like musicians who write don't get their songs on the radio, when a 'folkie' can't play it in front of a live audience leagally... that song won't get heard, and prospective buyers are lost. ttr


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Subject: RE: BS: Copyright and folk
From: Hollowfox
Date: 30 Sep 00 - 11:54 AM

I'd love to have somebody ask Jean Richie post to this thread. She's had to deal with copyright in the past as a way of protecting the songs that have come down through her family.
BTW, one of the saddest moments I've ever had was when I showed Ed McCurdy a compilation album of cuts from his famous "When Dalliance Was in Flower" record series. (for those not familiar with it, this is a five record series of 18th century songs that Ed researched for months in the New York Public Library. The series is an example of loving scholarship, and thanks to his hard work, the songs have gone "back into the tradition"; they're being sung at many a Renaissance Faire and historical re-creation gathering) Ed said,"I didn't know this record existed." He was not a wealthy man. I'd gotten the record because I saw his name on it. He deserved better for his work.


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