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Smalltime Copyright Rules ?

27 Oct 98 - 03:31 PM (#43412)
Subject: Smalltime Copyright Rules ?
From: Mick

My Sister and I, have a part-time Irish Duo, and we are making a CD, mostly Traditional Irish. She says because we are only local, and not with a Label, that we don't really have to get the rights to the songs. I'm not sure. We are only making 1000. Anybody know what we should do. If we must get them, then how do we go about it? Does it cost much, and how long ? She also says in the extreme unlikely chance that someone wanted to sign us, then we would be able to do it. Our hopes are to cover the cost of the Studio. The Cautious One !

27 Oct 98 - 04:51 PM (#43423)
Subject: RE: Smalltime Copyright Rules ?
From: Chet W.

Mick, I know it's a pain in the behind, but if you are selling a CD that has some songs that are not traditional, or if the arrangements are not entirely your own (most of us use at least parts of other peoples' arrangements, the ones we learned the songs from and learned to like them from), then you are responsible for royalties. It shouldn't cost much. You should check out some of the recent threads (if you can stand the craziness; you'll see what I mean) regarding copyright and intellectual property. If it's only a few songs, the easiest thing would be to write to the authors and ask permission - they usually give it in a case like yours. But make sure before you expose yourself to liability. If you're the adventurous type, the odds are probably good that no one will ever bother you about it, even if you do not check, but don't take that as advice, because if the authors are protected by one of the big licensing agencies, such as BMI or ASCAP, they will have no mercy if you are found out. Besides, if you get to be famous, your much-sought-after first CD will attract a lot of attention. So check it out first is my advice. On the recent thread entitled "Intellectual Property" (which got pretty nasty), someone gave a source for expert copyright information. Just enter "intellectual property" in the thread search filter at the top of the discussion page.

Good Luck, Chet W.

28 Oct 98 - 02:16 PM (#43495)
Subject: RE: Smalltime Copyright Rules ?
From: Barry Finn

Mick, I agree with Chet, check it all out first. There was an older thread, titled Copyrights or something like that, that also had a good bit of helpful info on it. Barry

28 Oct 98 - 02:34 PM (#43502)
Subject: RE: Smalltime Copyright Rules ?
From: John M.

I don' t want to say that you should, but I can tell you that people do It all the time. If you do it, make sure that you give credit to the people who are responsible in your liner notes, at least then you don't look like you want the credit yourself. Some people put " Demo Not For Sale" on CD's and Tapes. This might be a loophole, I'm not sure. If a big Label signed you ( If there are any interested in Irish, when Rap is around making Billions ) They would repackage it correctly I think. I don't know how long it would take, or how much it costs to get the permission. I'm not sure what the fine is for this either. Do as Chet said, and look in the Intellectual property thread. Look for the hypertext of Copyright Laws. Good Luck.

29 Oct 98 - 08:19 AM (#43583)
Subject: RE: Smalltime Copyright Rules ?
From: Mick

Thanks for the info, but whenever I enter Intellectual Property in the box, and hit enter it says sorry no Docs. found, am I doing something wrong ?

29 Oct 98 - 09:01 AM (#43585)
Subject: RE: Smalltime Copyright Rules ?
From: Bert

A search for property in the subject box will get it for you.

The Intellectual Property thread was supposed to resolve this very problem

As Mudcateers are a generous crowd there seemed to be a need for relaxed copyright rules for 'The Small Guys'

The ones who got upset seemed to be those who wanted everything for free.

Here is a repeat of the first posting....


This is a branch from the "foreman's job" thread.

There have been several discussions on copyright legalities but I think it would be an idea for us Mudcateers to develop our own rules.

Sort of - "We know what the laws are but here is how we want to do it".

Here are my thoughts.

1. I would consider it an honor if you sing one of my songs for any non profit reason. 2. I won't get too upset if you sing one at a bar and get paid a buck or two as long as you are not getting rich at it. 3.Give me credit when introducing the song. 4. If you make a recording (cassette or CD) I won't charge you for the first 500. More than that would be standard royalties.

How about making this, or something like it, the Mudcat code of honor?


------------------------------------------------------ There were a few people in agreement and one suggestion that the 500 be changed to 1000. Personally I would change it to 'the first 500 THAT YOU SELL' I imagine there a quite a few singers out there who have paid for a run of 1000 copies and are left with 700 or so sitting in their closet. But, if you sell more than 500 copies of one of my songs, then you are making more money from it than I am so I don't see why you shouldn't chip in the few pennies for standard royalties for the remainder.

Oh well, we can take a vote on it. Who's for 1000???


29 Oct 98 - 09:18 AM (#43588)
Subject: RE: Smalltime Copyright Rules ?
From: Bill in Alabama


The protocol may have changed in recent years, but we always used the Harry Fox Agency as a clearing house/go-between/agent. When we recorded material which I suspected was not in Public Domain, I checked with ASCAP and BMI (or checked their sites) to see if I could find author/publisher information. Then I listed ALL the non-PD songs on the album on which we were working, and included the money for the royalties (back then it was four cents per song per record/tape/cd). For a run of 1000 cds, the cost per song was $40. Since most of the non-PD songs we recorded were written by friends of ours, we were happy to pay. It ain't no big thing.

As I said, the procedure may have changed since we cut our last album 6 or 7 years ago, but you can find out easily at the BMI, ASCAP, or Harry Fox sites on the 'net. For me, the peace of mind was worth the cost and the effort.

29 Oct 98 - 12:01 PM (#43596)
Subject: RE: Smalltime Copyright Rules ?
From: Susan-Marie

The ealier thread on copyrights was titled "Copyrights 101" but it dealt mostly with performing music live rather than recording it.

29 Oct 98 - 08:38 PM (#43650)
Subject: RE: Smalltime Copyright Rules ?
From: Tim Jaques

"Small copyright" reminds me of a story I read -- can't recall the name of the man in question but he was a New York playwright of noted wit and business sense. He found out that a small upstate company was putting on one of his plays without paying him royalties. "But we are only a small, insignificant company!" the manager protested over the phone. "Then I'll have you put into a small, insignificant jail", was his reply.

29 Oct 98 - 09:40 PM (#43655)
Subject: RE: Smalltime Copyright Rules ?
From: Roger in Baltimore

To those interested in making recordings, I highly recommend the book How to Make and Sell Your Own Recording by Diane Rapaport. To find it, click on the Support the Mudcat icon and follow the path to Amazon Books. She says

Once a song has been recorded and distributed, you have a right to record that song and to make your own arrangement of it, provided you obtain a mechanical license from the writer's publishing company. The license states that you will pay the statutory rate (or the fee negotiated) for the use of the song, based on records actually sold, and that you will make a regular accounting of all records sold and returned.

As Bill in Alabama says, the easy way is to pay the royalty (6 cents, now, I believe) at the time of manufacture (simplifies accounting).

We aren't talking big bucks here, and it is the honest thing to do. In addition, this is money that ends up in the artist (songwriter) pocket.

Bill in Alabama has good advice on finding out who published the song. If you have the song on record by someone it is usually on the label.

Roger in Baltimore

09 Nov 98 - 01:54 PM (#44658)
Subject: RE: Smalltime Copyright Rules ?
From: T in Oklahoma

Mick: here are my thoughts on your question.

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, nothing in this post is legal advice,nothing in this post establishes a lawyer-client relationship.

As I understand how the system works, if the songs are under copyright, you need to get amechanical license to record them. Being a small-time outfit doesn't matter. Mechanical licences are often sold through the Harry Fox Agency.

If the songs are entirely in the public domain, you don't need anyone's permission.

A good reference book on copyright issues is Krasilovsky and Shemel, "This Business of Music", 7th Edition.