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BasicUke
04-09-2012, 12:01 AM
I was looking up chords for a song on Chordie and saw this message.

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I can find these chords in a million other places. No big deal.

I am wondering how the chords to a song can be subject to a copyrite. Am I am hard core criminal for filling up my 3-ring binder with songs?

When they outlaw ukes, only outlaws will have ukes!!

What's the story?

Jim

bazmaz
04-09-2012, 12:03 AM
When someone writes a song and publishes it, the song is copyright. That means nobody has the rights to use it, publish it without the permission of the copyright holder.

It's that simple really!

robbocx
04-09-2012, 01:39 AM
Yes, that's the way it is. When we made our songbook and CD we had to sort out firstly the owners of the copyright and then pay them so that we could use them.

In some songs we wanted to change the lyrics and one of the copyright owners did not approve of the changes so they went in the book as they had been originally written.

Look the amount of money you pay is around .009 cents per song per CD or Book so I'm happy to pay them for their creativity.

barefootgypsy
04-09-2012, 01:54 AM
When someone writes a song and publishes it, the song is copyright. That means nobody has the rights to use it, publish it without the permission of the copyright holder.

It's that simple really!So.... on my blog I have posted (part of) the words to a song, with my own chord arrangement, quite different from the original - - so is this in breach of copyright also? If it is, I'd better take it off... I suppose? :)

Ukulele JJ
04-09-2012, 02:08 AM
IANAL, but I'm pretty sure that you can't copyright mere chords. (Which is why Charlie Parker and other jazz guys could get away with writing their own song around the changes to "I Got Rhythm" and other standards)

The copyright message is probably because Chordie shows lyrics in addition to those chords. Lyrics are copyrightable.

JJ

ProfChris
04-09-2012, 05:01 AM
I'm pretty sure that you can't copyright mere chords.

If only it were that simple!

For songs there are three potentially protectable elements:

1. The lyrics;

2. The music; and

3. Any recorded performance (this is not technically protected by copyright, but by a "neighbouring" performance right).

Each part is protected if it's the author's (performer's) original creation.

Copying a *substantial* part without permission infringes the right. For most songs (12 bar blues aside) the complete chord sequence is a substantial part. Where songs share the same chord sequence (eg 12 bar blues), we get into an argument about originality and copying.

Added to that there are exceptions to the rights (fair use in the US, private use in Civil law countries), which never tell you with certainty if they apply. Oh, and the law which applies is the law of the country where you infringed the right (which, on the internet, includes communication to the public, so not necessarily the law of the place where you made your YouTube recording or where YouTube's servers live).

You might reasonably think this is nonsensical and you'd be right. Modern copyright law began with an English Act of 1611 designed to protect printers, and has been extended piecemeal ever since to cover plays, operas and musicals, printed music, piano rolls, gramophone records, radio broadcasts, TV broadcasts, cable broadcasts, satellite broadcasts and finally the internet. I probably missed some things from that list. Hardly ever is anything taken away.

For practical purposes the following strategy is pretty safe for private individuals:

1. Don't copy anything if you think the creator would object.

2. If the creator does object, say sorry nicely and stop your copying.

Also be aware that the creator (who might like your cover version) has probably assigned the rights to a publisher (who might not). But I know of no case, anywhere in the world, of an amateur cover version resulting in legal action (as opposed to threatening letters).

BasicUke
04-09-2012, 06:27 AM
When someone writes a song and publishes it, the song is copyright. That means nobody has the rights to use it, publish it without the permission of the copyright holder.

It's that simple really!

So, we're all outlaws?

If I figure out the chords myself, I can use it as long as I don't publish it?

How do sites like Ultimate Guitar Tabs (http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/) and Chordie (http://chordie.com/) stay in existance, not to mention every other uke site that has tab/chords on it, including favorites like Ukulelehunt.com (http://ukulelehunt.com/) and our own Ukulele Underground?

Is it just a matter of so many places being available to get the chords/lyrics that the labels can't keep up with their cease and desist letters?

I am just trying to get a handle on what is safe. If I download chords/lyrics for a song and I play that song in church, am I violating some law? If I download a song and play it at open mic, is that illegal? And what if I played in a band that got PAID for playing a song, does that change things?

Uke Whisperer
04-09-2012, 07:23 AM
So, we're all outlaws?

If I figure out the chords myself, I can use it as long as I don't publish it?

How do sites like Ultimate Guitar Tabs (http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/) and Chordie (http://chordie.com/) stay in existence, not to mention every other uke site that has tab/chords on it, including favorites like Ukulelehunt.com (http://ukulelehunt.com/) and our own Ukulele Underground?

Is it just a matter of so many places being available to get the chords/lyrics that the labels can't keep up with their cease and desist letters?

I am just trying to get a handle on what is safe. If I download chords/lyrics for a song and I play that song in church, am I violating some law? If I download a song and play it at open mic, is that illegal? And what if I played in a band that got PAID for playing a song, does that change things?

My understanding is that there was a decision made that chords themselves cannot be copyrighted. You can hear hundreds of tunes that contain the same chords and each one of them are probably copyrighted (which I don't think could be if the original chords were). However, if the melody is played with chords, then yes, they would be considered copyrighted. Confused? Me too.

My son produces a local Christian TV show that usually contains new and old song melodies with changed lyrics. The have a disclaimer about not commercial use and about being the songs being parodies etc. scrolled at the end of the show. However, their Attorney advised them that it seems to be a nice thing to do but they are in fact breaking copyright laws. The nationally televised he show it also produces does not contain the music or songs. They are planning on paying for the permissions/rights in the future.

Most sites that sell the sheet music, lyrics etc. pay for the right to do so.

Professional singers/musicians can pay for the rights of songs/music they perform. They are considered “tributes”.

Oh, ref "open Mic" technically, yes, that would be illegal as well, but......???

Confused? Yes?

ProfChris
04-09-2012, 08:18 AM
A few books needed to answer these questions (one for each country involved). But the practical answer is there is a difference between the existence of a law and its enforcement (speed limit, anyone?).

Rights owners don't sue infringers for lots of reasons:

No damage to the rights owner's commercial interests (many of the chords and lyrics sites are in this category)

Too many infringers (MP3 downloads)

Infringement promotes the original work (see the adverts on some YouTube covers)

Bad PR (suing a church or a charity is not good)

And so on.

Don't know the rules for open mics in the US, but here in the UK the venue needs a licence from the rights owners but the players don't (unless they record their performances in which case ...)

What rights owners really want are:

1. A share of your income from using their music

2. For you not to spoil their market, and

3. For you not to damage the reputation of the music or original performer through your use of it (soundtrack to porn video? song used for political rally?)

If you avoid these you will still infringe copyright, but are unlikely to get any complaints. Unless you make a YouTube video of a Prince song.

robbocx
04-09-2012, 01:13 PM
This is for Australia and the copyright issues that we need to deal with on a day-to-day basis revolving around music.

Problem – We play our music in public!

Solution - The Group applied for and was granted a Performance Group licence which allows us all to perform music in public.

Problem – We want to play copyrighted music on our CD!

Solution – The Group applied for and was granted an Audio Manufacture licence which allows us to use other people’s music on our CD.

Problem – We want to play music arranged for ukulele and we need enough copies to hand around!

Solutions – Now this is where it gets murky:

What if I have purchased a music book and change the arrangement, key etc?

You are in breach of copyright.

OK what if I don’t change it but photocopy the pages so I don’t have to turn them over during the song?

You are in breach of copyright.

Really, I bought the music and want to keep it safe at home rather than out in the weather after all I did pay for it and I am only copying only one page?

You are in breach of copyright.

OK how about I down load a song from the internet?

You are in breach of copyright.

Damm, how about I just watch the music video and copy them?

You are in breach of copyright.

Can you see where this is going; virtually everything you do will be in someway breaching someone’s copyright.

People in the music business have not been able to come up with a workable solution. A reasonable person would think that we should be able to just go and buy a licence just like we did for live music and the CD, alas that’s seems to just be crazy thinking.

I have attached an article from the June 2011 edition of limelight, yes I know it’s in breach of copyright, but I’m going to risk it and hope that you will have a read and understand what we are all up against when you want to make music.

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uke4ia
04-09-2012, 03:44 PM
I am just trying to get a handle on what is safe. If I download chords/lyrics for a song and I play that song in church, am I violating some law? If I download a song and play it at open mic, is that illegal? And what if I played in a band that got PAID for playing a song, does that change things?

In the U.S.: There are three companies that handle going after royalties on behalf of all the copyright holders: ASCAP, BMI, and I forget the third one. Income streams are way down for most musicians from music sales due to illegal downloading, so these companies have been going HARD after very small sources of money. These companies have recently been tracking venues that hold open mics, and go after those places for money. For something like $400 a year for each of the 3 companies, they will grant a license that allows use of copyrighted songs at an open mic. For a place that has a cover charge, such as a bar, that's not a big cost. But an open mic at a restaurant that I'd been playing at for three years stopped over the winter because they weren't doing enough business on those nights to cover the extra cost. In most cases, the venue is expected to pay for the right to use copyrighted material, and not the performer.

Here's an article the Boston Globe had on the subject two years ago:
Pay to Play (http://www.boston.com/ae/music/articles/2010/06/09/pay_to_play/?page=full)

Harold O.
04-09-2012, 06:53 PM
At my local venue in Los Angeles, the copyright cops called to extort their fees for performances that may or may not include songs titles they own. On Friday and Saturday nights, we usually have high school bands that play their own music. Open Mic Wednesdays brings out all kinds and the occasional cover slips through.

The venue told the copyright guys that before they pay any money, the copyright guys would have to prove they were in violation. The copyright guys tried to bully them, but it's a small venue with limited resources and they stuck to their guns. A sign saying "no covers" is clearly posted on the stage and in the contracts, but if one slips through, what're you gonna do? The venue still has not paid and no one is getting hurt in the process.

This issue has come up many times on UU and there seems to be no one great be-all answer. Jeez, If I had to pay for every copy I make of a song for our little ukulele group, we'd simply quit. Then who wins?

Ukulele JJ
04-10-2012, 02:06 AM
My understanding is that there's a difference between copyright (the right to make a copy of a piece of music) and performance rights (the right to play a piece of music--either live or recorded).

Organizations like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC are in charge of performance rights. They collect (or attempt to collect) royalties for the songwriter when a song is played on the radio, on TV, on a jukebox, by a cover band in a bar, etc. They don't care if anyone copied or bought anything. The radio could be playing a pirated MP3, or the band could've figured out the song by ear and never once wrote it down. Makes no difference to them, because they're just concerned about the performing/broadcasting of the song.

On the other hand, publishing companies, like Warner/Chappell, Sony/ATV, etc., worry about the copying of the music, in printed or recorded form. They're in charge of getting royalties for the songwriter when a song is put on an album and that album is sold. Or when the sheet music is published. Or when someone puts the lyrics on the internets. They don't care if anyone hears or plays it. They're concerned about a representation of the music being distributed.

In the US, incidentally, there is a copyright concept called "fair use" that does let you make copies of songs for certain reasons. It's murky law, but I believe it does allow you to make copies for personal use (like, to tape together to avoid page turns), to excerpt things for education purposes, to make a backup copy, etc.

But again, IANAL.

JJ

Pippin
04-10-2012, 10:46 AM
In the U.S.: There are three companies that handle going after royalties on behalf of all the copyright holders: ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC



There you go. :)