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BobN
07-15-2010, 06:44 AM
Anything original that you write is automatically copyrighted in the USA.

Copyright was intended to be for a limited time with limited rights as an incentive to advance the arts and sciences.

In the 1990's the law was drastically changed with the Copyright Term Extension Act. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Term_Extension_Act)

An excellent example of the copyright issues written in comic book form can be viewed or purchased here:
http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/

There are also additional thing that muddle up the copyright issue such as the DMCA, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act) and the up and coming ACTA.

The ACTA international agreement is being drafted in secret meetings.
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100111/2149377710.shtml

One thing that you can do as an artist is to publish your work with a Creative Commons license. This way, you can control what you want.
http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses/

The defender of "fair use" is the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
http://www.eff.org/

Tudorp
07-15-2010, 07:11 AM
I thought this copyright thing was done. But, that said, I'm not sure that anything original is "automatically" copyrighted, but assuming it is, the problem is the only reason, or time it would come up was in litigation. And if that the case, it would be the originator of the case "burden of proof" that it was their original idea, and the infringement is of that original idea. So, first, you have to prove that you came up with it first via time dated documentation, electronic, or notarized and dated material. When you prove that, then you have to prove that the copy that was infringed upon is in fact your work, or a variation derived from it (like the rap sampling classic rock riffs etc. controversies years ago). that whole thing is a slippery slope, and a real PITA really. Always a very tough case unless it is very blatant.

Just sayin..

whetu
07-15-2010, 11:31 AM
But, that said, I'm not sure that anything original is "automatically" copyrighted, but assuming it is,

I've already shot you down on that one (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?32971-COPYRIGHT!-What-!-!-Someones-taking-my-tab&p=413275#post413275), but if you won't believe me, you should probably have a look at this:
http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html

:)

On the topic of ACTA, I think it's universally evil, but I have a bias*. Countries like New Zealand and Canada have systematically beaten the living crap out of the worst of it, though the States soldiers on in trying to bring DMCA to the world, as a pre-requisite for easier trade agreements. Yes, International Copyright law has to change in order to keep up with technical innovation, ditto for Patent law, Intellectual Property law etc BUT these should be discussed SEPERATELY from trade agreements and efforts to reduce/stop counterfeiting.

*ACTA was especially evil as it supports/supported software patents, which are a threat to Open Source Software. As a career Unix/Linux Sysadmin, that's a direct threat to my livelihood, not to mention the threat to creative freedoms that the now abusive patent system has become. In the latest news, NZ has signalled that Software Patents suck and won't be allowed here (http://www.nzcs.org.nz/news/blog.php?/archives/97-.html) :) The other bias I have is that out here in the rest of the world, we really don't want America to tell us how to run our countries. Personally I see it as "here, have a trade agreement if you'll agree to effectively destroy the freedoms that your citizens have, and you'll also allow the RIAA unrestricted access to sue your innocent computerless grandmothers for millions of dollars"... yeah, right... no thanks.

For people wanting to learn more about the evils of ACTA, look at Michael Geist's blog (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/index.php?option=com_tags&task=view&tag=acta&Itemid=408). He's pretty much the leading authority on the topic. For Creative Commons, look at any presentation by Larry Lessig on youtube et al.

Tudorp
07-15-2010, 11:38 AM
its not that I don't believe you. I just never researched it. If that is the case, that is a cool thing. I have lots of original stuff I have done I never published to protect them. So, it would seem all I needed to do is time stamp them and they will be protected...

Tudorp
07-15-2010, 11:47 AM
To add to that this is what I meant. I used to own and operate "Advance Images" before I became disabled. We used to be a small graphics shop doing signage, and other graphic services. I was the brains & creative side of the operation, and the wife the CFO and business manager. We did very well, and I designed allot of stuff, and logos. I catered to the small business that didn't have allot of big bucks to pay sign builder, and designers. I used my skills to create eye catching logos that have done very well for them. I sold them the art, but not the "design" of a logo, or artwork to save them upfront money. But, it was agreed that Advanced Images owned the images on their signs, and they were not allowed to go anywhere else to duplicate that design. Meaning, they had to either purchase the rights to it from us, OR come to us for anything with their logo on it. It didn't mean allot, until they were established and known for that image. Then, they had to come to us for release of that image to do anything else, or other marketing with it. We closed our shop 2 years ago due to health reasons, sold our equipment, but still own much of the artwork around out area. We STILL get people coming to us to purchase an image they been using for years, or, giving permissions to another graphic shop to do work for them, and get a check from them for everything they do with my graphics on it. Not a bad thing.. People said I was nuts for not getting paid what I should for work. but, I was a service to shops that couldn't afford good eye catching artwork, AND I am still getting paid for stuff I designed years ago.. So, tell me now that was a poor business decision.. lol..

So, copyright can work for or against ya..

oldrookie
07-15-2010, 03:25 PM
Copyright comes into being as soon as the idea has been reduced to a tangible form. Can get an injunction to stop others from using the copyrighted material, but to get damages you must have registered the copyright with the Copyright Office.

baumer
07-15-2010, 04:21 PM
Copyright comes into being as soon as the idea has been reduced to a tangible form. Can get an injunction to stop others from using the copyrighted material, but to get damages you must have registered the copyright with the Copyright Office.
Yes, this is one of the clear benefits of registering your copyrighted works. It's not hard to do. I would highly recommend copyrighting any original stuff that you plan to put "out there". The US Copyright Office website has a ton of info http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/

Ukulele Buddy
07-15-2010, 04:30 PM
Wow guys, I didn't think my small little outburst would explode into this whole laws and layers thing. Its all OK anyway, i sent a simple letter to the owners of the website and they gave me a little credit. I was glad, but wasn't expecting it. I'm so glad some of you guys have differing opinions on the subject and helped me with my little issue. I just got to know, where did all the weird pictures come from? I was going to put this on the other thread, but you no, its closed. Thanks for all the support UU.

Stackabones
07-16-2010, 05:49 AM
As oldrookie and others have stated, copyright and registration of copyright shouldn't be confused. Yes, copyright is automatic but registration of copyright is not. Licensing, collection of royalties, etc is a whole 'nother ball of wax.

Time stamp, mailing it to yourself, etc may make you feel better, but it is considered "poor man's copyright" and just won't do in the US courts. The FAQ provided by US Copyright Office will fill in you on the details. If you aren't officially registered, no lawyer will take your case because no court will hear your case. Other countries may be different. The chance of an infringement claims requiring monetary awards for most unsigned regular folks like me or you on UU is really remote.

lindydanny
07-16-2010, 05:58 AM
This country would be great if it wasn't for the stupid lawyers.

DaveVisi
07-16-2010, 06:18 AM
Time stamp, mailing it to yourself, etc may make you feel better, but it is considered "poor man's copyright" and just won't do in the US courts.

As someone who is also involved in the magic world, I can write a Superbowl prediction, and mail it to someone before the game and have them watch me do it. They can initial the envelope, whatever.... When they get home, the prediction can be opened and read to be true.

That's just one way to do it. There are many more ways to modify a sealed envelope.

"Poor man's copyright" is no protection. You might fool a judge, but if a magician is in the court your case is busted.

baumer
07-16-2010, 06:50 AM
This country would be great if it wasn't for the stupid lawyers.
This is a strange comment. Did you know that most of the founding fathers of this great country were lawyers?

Tudorp
07-16-2010, 06:58 AM
And printers.. But, I understand what he is saying. Lawyers 200 years ago was a completely different mindset than the common lawyer of today.. If all lawyers today were patriots, and had the interests of the greater good in their mindset, in lue of their own greed today, this would be a much better place..

lindydanny
07-16-2010, 10:12 AM
Notice that I said "stupid lawyers". READ: Stupid = greedy SOBs.

(Thanks for the back up on that, Tudorp.)

I'd be very surprised if George Washington would side with the lady who spilled coffee on herself at McDonalds. Or more recently, the illegal alien who sued a table saw manufacturer when he cut his fingers off by ripping a board (that's lengthwise) without a blade guard or any support/guide on the saw. (That last one bugs the hell out of me since he sued for $750,000 and was awarded close to $2 million.)

Sorry for the hijack...

Uh, copyrighting is good, but the law is bad... Yeah! Rock on!

~DB

Pippin
07-16-2010, 11:01 AM
Copyrights were extended in duration way earlier than the 1990s. My earliest copyrights were from about 1980 and they have been extended longer in recent years than my earliest filings. My mother was a songwriter and her filings were not as long as the current law. The last I looked copyright protection lasts 95 years beyond the death of the copyright holder, which is just plain stupid.

I highly recommend Lawrence Lessig's book, The Future of Ideas when trying to understand the arguments for and against copyright duration. The Mickey Mouse law is a bit too extreme.

Pippin
07-16-2010, 11:05 AM
Without an official copyright filing, the best one can typically get in court is a cease order and probably not get monetary damages.

While the US Copyright Office does say that creative works are considered copyrighted at the time of their creation, they give you five years after the date of publication to file and be given security in it.

Tudorp
07-16-2010, 11:10 AM
Notice that I said "stupid lawyers". READ: Stupid = greedy SOBs.

(Thanks for the back up on that, Tudorp.)

I'd be very surprised if George Washington would side with the lady who spilled coffee on herself at McDonalds. Or more recently, the illegal alien who sued a table saw manufacturer when he cut his fingers off by ripping a board (that's lengthwise) without a blade guard or any support/guide on the saw. (That last one bugs the hell out of me since he sued for $750,000 and was awarded close to $2 million.)

Sorry for the hijack...

Uh, copyrighting is good, but the law is bad... Yeah! Rock on!

~DB
Yeah, this thread was highjacked, but I think it was played out anyway. What gets me are the people, and families of smokers that sue the tobacco industry because they have smoking related illnesses and/or death. No schit boneheads. If ya wanna smoke, by all means do it, but when ya get ill from it, don't whine about it. I am one fat SOB myself, and I blame myself first, and the situation 2nd. I don't blame Buger King, White Castle, or any other junk food place. If I jammed something in my mouth to make me sick, or fat, it's my own damn fault because I KNOW it's bad for me. Just sayin.

Years ago when my grown son was about 9, he was hit by a US Postal mail carrier. The post office, and the mail carrier were crapping in their pants over it because they thought for sure there was gonna be a postage stamp with my face on it. Mail carriers get fired automatically if they are invloved in an accident. Except in this case, I saved that man his job, because I insisted that the US postal service do NOT fire him over it because how it happend. My son was riding his bike along the side of the road. The mail carrier was going slow because kids were around, but just as he got even with my son, my son just suddenly turned his bike right in his path. There was no way he could have avoided that. My son had a bloody nose, but otherwise unscaved. We took him in to be sure there was no hidden injury, and he bounce checked good. The PO kissed my butt for awhile after that, and that mail carrier hand delivered my mail to my door in lue of the curb box for several years after that in appreciation for me saving his job, in lue of suing the USPS for something stupid my son did. I may have had a "legal" case for sure, but, there was no gross neglegence IMHO in any of that except that of my son. He was ok, and thats all I cared about. There were lawyers frothing at the mouth over that wanting to represent my son over that. Just saying.

Pippin
07-16-2010, 11:15 AM
One more thing... When copyright filing was just $10 I never thought much about filing every new song right away (yeah, I am showing my age). Now, I take collections of songs and file them as such. Each is still offered the protection of copyright as part of a collective, and as an individual composition with that one filing. I save a ton of money doing this. I do it with visual art, too.

Howlin Hobbit
07-18-2010, 03:06 PM
One thing that you can do as an artist is to publish your work with a Creative Commons license. This way, you can control what you want.
http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses/

That's what I'm doing with all of my songs now (http://www.howlinhobbit.com/blog/pivot/tags.php?tag=songsheets). It's coming along slow since I'm making a songsheet for each of them before "releasing them into the wild" but that's where I'm heading.

buddhuu
07-20-2010, 12:14 AM
@Tudorp:
Glad your kid turned out to be made of rubber. Still scary when that stuff happens, innit? My son always used to nosedive down stairs because he'd never look where he was going... What can you do?

Shame more people don't share your attitude re. personal responsibility. For the majority (I reckon) the appeal of reaching for a phone and a lawyer's business card is too strong to resist. That's why we have this culture wherein people feel entitled to whatever a lawyer can get for them from any given situation.

Blaming lawyers is too easy. They only make money because a grasping, litigious public provides a market for their services.

Thread drift, but what the heck. Sue me. I plead tenuous relevance...

ichadwick
07-20-2010, 04:10 AM
Music is a bit more complex.

A song may have multiple copyrights - the lyricist and composer may each have a separate copyright, or a combined one (and to whom does copyright get assigned if one dies? What if one copyright expired - say the lyrics - but the other was renewed?). And what happens when just the lyrics or just the music is reproduced, as in the Gem and Feist books? It can get sticky.

The arranger(s) may have another (this has happened where a song copyright has lapsed but an arranger has redone it, especially for a song collection). And you'll often notice that an arranger gets credit, but NOT copyright on the song sheet. I have numerous examples of that. Does that mean the arrangements are PD?

Some publishers have a copyright on a collection (the way it is collated and assembled, notes, introduction, photographs, etc.) that may be different from the songs themselves.

And finally a performance can have its own copyright (which is why you may see a Broadway production with a later copyright on an older song such as with Ain't Misbehavin'). Another example, Ain't She Sweet, was written (and copyright) in 1927 by Ager and Yellen, but was used in several movies and recordings from 1929 on (so sheet music may show a date from that performance). However, the US Copyright records show it as a 1957 copyright by Lawson Wood, renewed in 1985. This can only be a performance, not the actual song. Sometimes a performance gets transcribed in a different style or arrangement, which generates its own copyright date, too.

I have several examples where the same song published at different times has different copyright dates on it. This happens, it seems, when a company in one country buys the rights to reprint material from another country. The company may have to secure separate copyright on the material, too, but only lists its own date. Or the second date might refer to a specific arrangement.

Works published in the USA before 1923 are all public domain. Works published in the USA between 1923 and 1968 without copyright registration are also in the public domain. Copyright means they had to be printed with a specific copyright notice at the time (and deliver two copies of the work to the Copyright Office).

Works published between 1923 and 1963 that were copyright had to be specifically renewed within their initial term or they are also in the PD. The initial term was 28 years and renewal had to be made within that time. A second term could be made for 28 years, with all renewals for 67 years total. Each renewal had to be separately filed, one at a time, within the eligible period. If renewed, in the USA they are copyright for a maximum 95 (28 plus 67) years after the initial date of publication. While initial publication did not require registration with the US Copyright Office, renewal did. So a song published in 1923 was copyright until 1951, and could be renewed for 28 years until 1979. But if not renewed in or before 1951, it became PD. So if it was renewed in 1963 and lapsed after, in 1991 it was PD.

Works published outside the USA without "compliance with US formalities," and which became "public domain in its source country as of 1 January 1996" are considered public domain in the USA as well. Compliance did not always require registration with the US Copyright Office but it DID require the copyright holder deposit two copies of the work with the US office.

In the UK and Canada, as well as most of the Commonwealth and many European nations, copyright expires (or until 1996 expired if they followed US custom) 50 years after publication, or registration (unless renewed). So in Canada, a song that was published in, say, 1940 and not renewed, became PD in 1990. Pretty much everything published before 1996 in Canada, Australia, the UK and other countries with their own laws, and not renewed, is therefore PD in both that host country (and often in the USA. But what happens if the same piece was published simultaneously in different countries? Or if the US copyright lapsed, but it was renewed in another country? It gets stickier.)

The final piece to this puzzle is the question of ownership. The copyright holder may not exist any more to challenge usage (and don't forget the fair usage condition). In some cases it was a person (and passed on to his or her estate unless otherwise exempted by will or by other law). But in many cases - Tin Pan Alley in particular - the publisher held the copyright, not the artist. The vast majority of those companies are long gone - 50 years or more out of business. Who got those rights? Sometimes another company, sometimes no one. And because of that, copyright ownership and renewal are difficult to trace (and some, it seems, didn't provide the Copyright Office with the initial two copies, but you need to physically read the registration books, in Washington, to confirm this). It's not just a matter of a legal challenge - it's the difficulty finding the records of copyright ownership, registration and renewal to determine who has it now.

Here's an interesting quote from an informative piece (http://www.dlib.org/dlib/july08/hirtle/07hirtle.html) on the complexities of US copyright:

The copyright status of works published in the US from 1923 to 1964 – the period between almost certain public domain status and almost certain copyright protection – has been much harder to determine. Most of these works, however, are likely to be in the public domain. In order to receive the protections of copyright during this period, published works had to comply with certain straightforward formalities. Works had to be published with a copyright notice consisting of the word "copyright" or the symbol , followed by the name of the copyright owner and the date. Works published in English had to be manufactured in the United States. Registration of the copyright with the Copyright Office was not required, but it did secure extra protections for the copyright owner. The copyright owner was also required to arrange for the deposit of two copies of the work with the Copyright Office.

Most importantly for copyright status investigations, copyright had to be renewed in order to secure the longest possible term. The initial grant of copyright was for a term of 28 years. A second grant (called a renewal) was possible if requested in the last year of the copyright term. If secured, copyright was extended for another 28 years. With subsequent extensions of copyright term, the renewal term could last for as long as 67 years, or a total of 95 years when combined with the initial grant of 28 years of protection. A 1961 Copyright Office study, however, found that only 7% of registered copyrighted books had their copyright renewed. Failure to renew allowed the work to enter the public domain.
Assuming a similar percentage for music, only a very small portion of material copyright before 1961 was actually renewed. And even if renewed in 1963 for a single term, that would still make the copyright lapse in 1991. So, for example, music that was published in or before 1940 and renewed only once would all be PD by 1966 at the latest.

I have a modest collection of recent "fake" books and popular or jazz standards - mostly guitar and piano arrangements - with songs that generally date before 1950. All of them give copyright dates for the songs. Some songs have renewal dates, too. But some merely say after the initial date, "copyright renewed." I am suspicious of the latter, since it suggests that, yes it was renewed once, but has long since lapsed. On others, the renewal date is generally from before the 1950s, and no subsequent date is listed, suggesting the renewal has also lapsed. I wouldn't want to challenge it legally, but one wonders why a more recent date is not identified.

Aside from some well-known composers or some hits that got into the movies, a lot of the music from before WWII is probably PD, simply because it wasn't a hit any more, or wasn't being printed, or the company folded, and it never got renewed. It's difficult to determine without actually going through the actual non-digital records in the Library of Congress.

BobN
07-20-2010, 04:57 AM
Notice that I said "stupid lawyers". READ: Stupid = greedy SOBs.

(Thanks for the back up on that, Tudorp.)

I'd be very surprised if George Washington would side with the lady who spilled coffee on herself at McDonalds. Or more recently, the illegal alien who sued a table saw manufacturer when he cut his fingers off by ripping a board (that's lengthwise) without a blade guard or any support/guide on the saw. (That last one bugs the hell out of me since he sued for $750,000 and was awarded close to $2 million.)

Sorry for the hijack...


~DB
"after a jury awarded $2.86 million to a woman who burned herself with hot coffee she purchased from fast food restaurant McDonald's. The trial judge reduced the total award to $640,000, and the parties settled for a confidential amount before an appeal was decided." ($20,000)


What you are talking about are rare exceptions. Most of the time, the law works as intended. There are no perfect laws or perfect people.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The last I looked copyright protection lasts 95 years beyond the death of the copyright holder, which is just plain stupid.

I agree. The extremely long copyright does nothing to promote the advancement of the arts and sciences.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Mexican copyright proposal is even more extreme:

"One change that has also become the subject of discussion is
the increase of the patrimonial right term of life plus
seventy-five years to life plus one hundred years. Once the
term expires, the Government would have the power to collect
fees from the use of works, which are no longer protected. "
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you feel that you are being unfairly bullied, or taken advantage of, chillingeffects may be of some help.
http://www.chillingeffects.org/