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Jerryc41
03-05-2019, 02:29 AM
I doubt we have many copyright lawyers posting here, so answers will be basically opinions.

Sharing ukulele songs online is a common practice. How much of that is legal, as opposed to risking being sued over copyright violations? Obviously, posting a link to copy a book of songs would be illegal, but how about all the links I see on sites for individual songs? Even if I re-type the lyrics and add chords myself, I am still not the composer, and I don't own the copyright.

Ukulele events often publish books of the songs they will be featuring, but they did not compose those songs, and I can't imagine them getting permission from each publisher to use them.

Our group is creating a web site, and we're wondering what is safe to post.

EDW
03-05-2019, 03:18 AM
I know that I have seen many use materials and list it as "for educational purposes only". I know that there are provisions for educational use, but don't know all the details. This site may provide some guidance

https://www.copyrightuser.org

For what it is worth, I have not heard of any groups being taken to court, but I understand that you don't want to be the test case!

Jerryc41
03-05-2019, 03:28 AM
For what it is worth, I have not heard of any groups being taken to court, but I understand that you don't want to be the test case!

Thanks. There are so many variations. You can make copies, but you can't make copies. You can use it for education, but sometimes, you must get permission. I can see why lawyers love this type of thing.

Also -
https://info.legalzoom.com/sheet-music-copyright-laws-20368.html

bobhost
03-05-2019, 03:59 AM
I create PDFs of the music I want to learn using Musescore. I used to post them on the Musescore site and here.
After a few got pulled down, I stopped posting them.

Joyful Uke
03-05-2019, 05:43 AM
I create PDFs of the music I want to learn using Musescore. I used to post them on the Musescore site and here.
After a few got pulled down, I stopped posting them.

It has seemed to me like fewer tabs are being posted these days. As someone who has really appreciated the tabs, I've wondered why. Maybe this is why?

bobhost
03-05-2019, 06:39 AM
One of my favorite things to do on these forums is to scan through the songs and tabs requests.
People find the most interesting songs and then ask about chords or tabs for them.

I listen to the video they post and often find that it is a piece that speaks to me.
Then I create a tab or lead sheet for it so that I can practice the song.
Rainbow-Connection-Fingerstyle-Tab (https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?42721-Rainbow-Connection-Fingerstyle-Tab) was one.
And this review of the Kiwaya KS-1 (https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?135951-What-song-is-this) was another. I did post that tab since I could not find any song name with it.

But I have 50 or so songs that I have made lead sheets for, and as you note, they are not sharable.

rainbow21
03-05-2019, 07:32 AM
... a can of worms. From "googling" the topic, it appears as if publishing these songs on a site or copying for a group jam is technically a violation of copyright laws. It may also be that singing these songs at a meetup without permission is a violation.

ASCAP had a public relations disaster when they tried to get the Girl Scouts to pay fees for singing songs at campfires. At least singing "Happy Birthday" is now okay as it has been ruled to be in the public domain by the courts.

kypfer
03-05-2019, 07:32 AM
Just remember, in this international digital age, that what is deemed allowable or "forgivable" in one country may be a crime in another.

Copyright laws even differ from one country to another, so what may be deemed "Out of Copyright" in your country may still be protected elsewhere. It may all hinge on who currently holds the copyright to the particular piece of music or lyrics ... and that can differ!

Just 'cos your local authorities "turn a blind eye" doesn't mean that someone in a distant land won't start legal action.

This could prove to be really expensive as you'll probably have to employ a suitably-qualified local lawyer to represent you ... and you'll not get your costs back if the complainants decide to not pursue the case! You may well not get the option to "take it down or else". The information will have been published and quite possibly copied onto a myriad of devices ... each copy potentially being a loss of income to the complainant!

Hope to get lucky or play safe - it's your choice ;) :music:

Rllink
03-05-2019, 01:32 PM
I would not take what ASCAMA says as the final word. They do not make copyright law. As far as ASCAP is concerned, just thinking about a song without paying them is against the law, but that is just how they choose to interpret it. If you look at case law it is all over the place. The bottom line is that it is all subject to the courts and judges to rule on individual cases. But the did send a letter to a local coffee shop that I used the play in on Saturday nights and threatened to take them to court if they didn't buy a licence for $3500. It scared them enough to quit having live music. Another coffee shop that I do open mic at got a similar letter and just ignored it. So far so good, two years later.

rainbow21
03-05-2019, 01:41 PM
I would not take what ASCAMA says as the final word. They do not make copyright law. As far as ASCAP is concerned, just thinking about a song without paying them is against the law, but that is just how they choose to interpret it. If you look at case law it is all over the place. The bottom line is that it is all subject to the courts and judges to rule on individual cases.

... singing copyrighted songs without permission on a forbidden wall... you are one that lives life to the fullest without regards to the dangers.

Bill Sheehan
03-05-2019, 03:14 PM
... singing copyrighted songs without permission on a forbidden wall... you are one that lives life to the fullest without regards to the dangers.

Hahahahahahahahahaha!! This comment made my day bigtime!!!! :D

Kenn2018
03-05-2019, 05:04 PM
There is the concept of "fair use" for copyrighted materials. Educational use, I believe falls under this umbrella.

Public libraries still operate under the prohibition of making photocopies of books. Some tell you that you can only make a maximum of 5 copies (aka: Xerox) of any publication or book.

Uncle Ukulele Mike had to move his playing of modern songs to Vimeo from YouTube because of YouTube's copyright concerns.

Most copyrighted material usage revolves around whether the materials are being used for "money". So if you are using them for group sing-alongs are for fun. If you sell a songbook collection, containing copyrighted materials, you are definitely in violation.

Schools have to pay fees to perform musicals or plays that are still under copyright. Especially if they charge admission.

The upshot is, that some lawyers make an entire career out of copyright infringement and usage claims.

(Not to mention liability exposures of officers of organizations.)

So, as previously mentioned by previous commenters, your exposure may vary.


PS: I am not an attorney, nor am I an attorney spokesperson. This post is an expression of my thoughts and speculations. They are not intended to be legal advice or opinions.



PPS: Some computer typefaces are copyrighted. Microsoft and other companies will not allow use in published or Internet posted materials without a license fee being paid.

JerryWithaJ
04-22-2019, 02:42 AM
A little history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On-line_Guitar_Archive

Jerryc41
04-22-2019, 03:08 AM
A little history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On-line_Guitar_Archive

Sad. Tabs that someone makes up his own should be allowed, but I guess proving can be a nightmare.

70sSanO
04-22-2019, 05:23 AM
What is ironic about this is that artists beg to be heard and their work acknowledged. Once the public acknowledges their music or literature and there is financial gain, they suddenly cry copyright infringement and their livelihood. The truth is that without the public to propel the work, there would be no success and there would be no need for a copyright. People write music and ligature everyday and will go to his/her grave without a single person ever wanting to replicate it.

John

Jerryc41
04-22-2019, 05:40 AM
What is ironic about this is that artists beg to be heard and their work acknowledged. Once the public acknowledges their music or literature and there is financial gain, they suddenly cry copyright infringement and their livelihood. The truth is that without the public to propel the work, there would be no success and there would be no need for a copyright. People write music and ligature everyday and will go to his/her grave without a single person ever wanting to replicate it.

John

It seems like legally, about the only thing you can do with music is listen to it on the radio.

natchez
04-22-2019, 06:21 AM
This is a complicated legal area. I'm a retired attorney, NY state, but specialized in tax and securities law, but did work for years in the entertainment field. Likely, I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous:). So, this is my personal opinion, not legal advice. Here are some basic guidelines as to the USA:

Generally, anytime a copyrighted work is performed or used in full or substantial part other than for comment, criticism, news reporting, teaching, research or scholarship a license is required. For example, if you are busking, a license is technically required. If a copyrighted work is used in connection with any type of commercial endeavor, say in a bar, even at an open mike event, a license is also technically required. Even if a work is used by a non-profit entity, say a school, and is to be preformed in front of an audience, a license is required.

The copyright laws provide extensive protection for authors and publishers. The allowed uses without license fall under "fair use" -Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. Examples of this would be using copyrighted material in classroom teaching, for example, handing out a newspaper article to a class. Other fair use is citation and minor excerpts in research, and use of less than a substantial portion of the work in a news article. Parody is sometimes allowed, as it may be considered criticism.

The law does look at a number of factors: whether the use was for profit or not, whether the use could diminish the market value of the work, and how much of the copyrighted work was used. The intent of the use is also important. For example, if you performed a copyrighted show without license, but no one came or you lost money, it would still not be a fair use.

Now, the law is relatively clear that many of the sites that publish copyrighted works, even if they are "original" interpretations, are technically in violation of the copyright laws in the US.

Practically, however, most copyright holders are not equipped to, and do not choose to, chase down every use of their works. As noted above, some will send a letter to a venue and hope that the use stops. Most of us, me included, play a lot of copyrighted material without specific license. If for personal use, no profit motive, I feel quite comfortable using the copyrighted material. And, I also do so when I play for kids and others. But, I do not charge anything. I also use copyrighted material with my students, family, friends and the like. And, a good part of what I use is based upon music books that have obtained licenses to publish the works. For example, any of the material from respected publishers like Hal Leonard, are legal, in that they obtained the necessary permissions to publish their books.

The sites that put up "for educational purposes only" are trying to shoehorn themselves into the fair use doctrine. Whether they actually fall under that or not is a question of fact and law. Some may, others may not. It is unlikely that anyone will chase most of them, it is just not practicable.

Here are some simple guidelines I use to govern my own behavior: I obtain almost all of my material from a licensed source, such as the Daily Ukulele. Some of it I just noodle out on my own. I do not perform for profit and do it just for fun. I do share my take on songs with others, but I do not publish tabs of them. My take on ukulele club jams is, if you are teaching each other and you have a licensed copy that you share it is likely a fair educational use, teaching need not only be in a school or university. Jams at a ukulele festival, where admission is charged, are likely a different matter. And, it is important to remember that no one cannot copyright a C chord in and of itself :)

Jerryc41
04-22-2019, 07:33 AM
Practically, however, most copyright holders are not equipped to, and do not choose to, chase down every use of their works.

Of course, if a company goes after one ukulele club and publicizes the fact, that will scare most of the others into submission.

Nice post.

RafterGirl
04-22-2019, 09:38 AM
This may fit into this conversation. I play my ukulele in the worship band at my church. We play contemporary Christian music and use CCLI. Christian Copyright Licensing International. It’s a paid license or subscription type thing and we use something called Song Select. I’m not 100% sure how it works. All of our printed song sheets have CCLI printed at the bottom. I asked once about playing a song I like, but it wasn’t on Song Select. The band leader said that if we sing a song it doesn’t have to be on Song Select, but if we project lyrics for the congregation to sing along, it has to be from Song Select and covered by CCLI.

acmespaceship
04-22-2019, 09:41 AM
Never walk alone in bear country. This is because it is difficult to outrun a bear. With a hiking buddy you only need to run faster than your buddy.

If the music companies ever choose to make an example of a uke club, chances are they'll target a high-profile club that shares materials widely across the Internet. The clubs I know are relatively circumspect. They make songsheets available to members only, on a site that requires users to log in. The materials are free of charge and the club does not charge a membership fee. Only songs for the next meeting are available, not the entire archive. They add the "educational use only" and "please do not distribute" disclaimers which might not really be protective but it can't hurt.

In other words, don't stick your neck out and you'll probably be fine.

Not that it matters in a legal sense, but I always make a good faith effort to include accurate song credits -- names and copyright year. I might someday get accused of violating copyright, but you'll never catch me disrespecting the people who created the songs. When I see some doofus songsheet with "Hound Dog by Elvis Presley" I want to slap somebody upside the head.

gochugogi
04-22-2019, 10:01 AM
It's rare but here in Honolulu ASCAP and BMI agents have checked up on nightclubs, churches and schools that refused to buy site licenses. They documented the violations and billed them before taking court action. The cases I recall were all high profile venues with deep pockets compared to an individual or ukulele club. When I worked in college admin I recall a small college site license was about $15,000 annually (might be more now!) and covered use of music such playing the radio in offices, background music for events, etc. We refused to pay and nothing happened but the churches and nightclubs weren't as lucky.