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10 messages

Help! Copyright and me!

18 Feb 11 - 02:46 PM (#3098146)
Subject: Help! Copyright and me!
From: Geordie-Peorgie

I have been asked to record some traditonal songs to promote an indie record company! I got to record free and the proprieter gets to sell my stuff online!

However, in a conversation today he advised me that HE owns the copyright on my recordings and he can do with them what he wants

Is this true? Don't I have any say in what he does with MY voice and MY instrumantal work?

This is based in UK so the US legal process might be different - The project is probably dead-in-the-water now but he has 14 traditional songs with me singing and playing sitting ready to sell! Where do I stand?


18 Feb 11 - 02:56 PM (#3098160)
Subject: RE: Help! Copyright and me!
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Any written contract? Richard Bridge, I think, could perhaps help.


18 Feb 11 - 03:01 PM (#3098165)
Subject: RE: Help! Copyright and me!
From: EBarnacle

A verbal contract is worth the paper it's written on. Get legal advice.


18 Feb 11 - 06:19 PM (#3098288)
Subject: RE: Help! Copyright and me!
From: Richard Bridge

The copyright in the sound recording as such belongs to the producer. Unless a contract says otherwise. This is a slight oversimplification.

A traditional song/tune/set of words will be out of copyright. But a particular arrangement may be in copyright. If it is your arrangement the copyright in the arrangement belongs to you. Unless the contract says otherwise. The MCPS and PRS may have an interest in prior arrangements that may still be in copyright, insofar as substantially reproduced.

You also have performers' rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act but if you have knowingly performed for recording without protest you are likely to have waived those rights - but this is more complex.

Of course if you have recorded on the basis that there would be a signed contract before exploitation then you may have effectively reserved your performer's rights and you may still be able to assert rights in your arrangements and performance - and the contract will say what it says when it says it.

A contract of employment changes things. The "work for hire" concept is not known in English law, but implied licences are known.


18 Feb 11 - 06:57 PM (#3098312)
Subject: RE: Help! Copyright and me!
From: Geordie-Peorgie

Many thanks all - Particularly you, Richard - As always really good counsel! I think we have come to an agreement to 'lose' all of the work and put it down to experience - A shame because it was really good quality stuff! Now back to the drawing board!


18 Feb 11 - 07:26 PM (#3098337)
Subject: RE: Help! Copyright and me!
From: EBarnacle

Get it in writing! There are a few companies which specialize in these "lost" recordings. If the guy is a creep, he might still make money out of licensing the recording.


18 Feb 11 - 11:39 PM (#3098431)
Subject: RE: Help! Copyright and me!
From: Richard Bridge

The current implied/oral licence permits him promo use only, it seems likely.

Why not seek to formalise an agreement assigning all rights back to you subject to an irrevocable free licence in his favour to use the recordings only in advertisements for his business - with no physical or virtual sale or distribution rights for him? Or he could put one track of yours on any samplers he put out - one per sampler. It'd be sort of backwards, in that usually you'd want to release the album as such first before any tracks went to sampler or advertising use, but it's a bit like the way David DUndas's "Blue Jeans on" was broken: it was commissioned and recorded for Levis and so many enquiries followed that it got a single release and the rest is history.

Don't waste the recordings - at the very least make sure you have good quality copies and then in a century or two your heirs can release them, or if the UK law changes to permit a private use exemption your family and friends can have copies.

Or how about he gets a distribution licence but you have exclusive rights to sell at your own gigs (a bit like the BCAB Guide Cats arrangement where BCAB are sort of limited to a variant of "charity use".

There must be a way to skin the cat if you confront him and tell him that you can block the project entirely unless there is something in it for you...


19 Feb 11 - 11:33 AM (#3098565)
Subject: RE: Help! Copyright and me!
From: Nigel Parsons

Not arguing the legal part, but: David Dundas's "Blue Jeans on" was broken: it was commissioned and recorded for Levis
It wasn't Levis.
Part of the advert lyrics was (from memory);
I put my blue jeans on
I put my Brutus jeans on.

Clealy not Levi's


19 Feb 11 - 12:48 PM (#3098590)
Subject: RE: Help! Copyright and me!
From: GUEST,Tommy

Why not offer to pay the recording costs and thereby buy the master tapes from him?


19 Feb 11 - 02:34 PM (#3098650)
Subject: RE: Help! Copyright and me!
From: Richard Bridge

You may be right Nigel but I was pretty confident it was Levis. I'm not going googling now but I suspect the answer is out there...