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  1. #1
    Distinguished SOTW Columnist/Official SOTW Guru Dog Pants's Avatar
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    Default Writing Band Charts and Copyright??? Anyone know the rules???

    Hi Guys,

    Over the Christmas Holidays, my boss has asked if I could have a crack at writing some band charts for the kids.

    The kids have been asking for more interesting charts and they want something funky or swinging.

    Basically, something fun.

    The boss has asked if I could come up with something and my question is;

    Is it legal to write my own arrangement of the rock, jazz and funk tunes that the kids like, or, to avoid infringing copyright, do I have to come up with something totally original?

    thanks.

    DP
    The soft and despicable other side of this rather nasty coin is where everything unintelligible is automatically invested with significance by culture vultures. That was exemplified by a Ravi Shankar concert in London at which, after listening to some applause, Shankar said ‘If you liked our tuning up, I hope you will now like our playing’.

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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Band Charts and Copyright??? Anyone know the rules???

    You may write and play them for educational purposes.
    ____________________________________________________
    You can't blow it if you haven't lived it.

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  3. #3
    Distinguished SOTW Member BarrySachs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Band Charts and Copyright??? Anyone know the rules???

    You can write arrangements of anything you like for educational purposes or any other purpose. You may not sell copies of arrangements without permission from the publisher. You may be engaged to write an arrangement of any tune.

  4. #4
    Distinguished SOTW Columnist/Official SOTW Guru Dog Pants's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Band Charts and Copyright??? Anyone know the rules???

    Thanks for the replys guys.

    To paraphrase Harry Belafonte "It was clear as mud but it covered the ground."

    I can't sell any arrangements I write of popular tunes, but I can be engaged to write arrangements of any tune.

    This seems contradictory to me.

    Basically, the boss wants me to write arrangements for the kids bands. By way of compensating me for the considerable time it will take, the schools would buy the arrangements from me.

    Is that educational or commercial?

    Can I still arrange a popular tune or do I have to compose something original?
    The soft and despicable other side of this rather nasty coin is where everything unintelligible is automatically invested with significance by culture vultures. That was exemplified by a Ravi Shankar concert in London at which, after listening to some applause, Shankar said ‘If you liked our tuning up, I hope you will now like our playing’.

  5. #5
    Forum Contributor 2011 CardinalRule's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Band Charts and Copyright??? Anyone know the rules???

    I work as a music librarian here in the U.S. and our copyright laws for music are slightly different than Australia's. You may have already found this site (http://www.copyright.org.au/information/cit008/wp0008) but it seems to offer some of the information that you're seeking--I hope proves to be helpful.

    Like you said it is clear as mud!

  6. #6
    Distinguished SOTW Member Mal 2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Band Charts and Copyright??? Anyone know the rules???

    Quote Originally Posted by Dog Pants View Post
    Thanks for the replys guys.

    To paraphrase Harry Belafonte "It was clear as mud but it covered the ground."

    I can't sell any arrangements I write of popular tunes, but I can be engaged to write arrangements of any tune.

    This seems contradictory to me.

    Basically, the boss wants me to write arrangements for the kids bands. By way of compensating me for the considerable time it will take, the schools would buy the arrangements from me.

    Is that educational or commercial?

    Can I still arrange a popular tune or do I have to compose something original?
    Find a way that the compensation is for something other than the arrangements -- say, handling sectionals or conducting the second band while the teacher is busy with the first. Then you're not getting paid for the arrangements and you don't have to worry about it. Clear as mud!
    SAX ENSEMBLES (quartet, trio, sextet, and more): Bandcamp (streaming), or Downloadable (MP3 and PDF).

  7. #7
    Distinguished SOTW Member BarrySachs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Band Charts and Copyright??? Anyone know the rules???

    Quote Originally Posted by Dog Pants View Post
    Thanks for the replys guys.

    To paraphrase Harry Belafonte "It was clear as mud but it covered the ground."

    I can't sell any arrangements I write of popular tunes, but I can be engaged to write arrangements of any tune.

    This seems contradictory to me.

    Basically, the boss wants me to write arrangements for the kids bands. By way of compensating me for the considerable time it will take, the schools would buy the arrangements from me.

    Is that educational or commercial?

    Can I still arrange a popular tune or do I have to compose something original?

    It's like this: You can be hired to write an arrangement by, let's say, a singer. Frank Sinatra wants some new charts of standards for his act and hires Billy May. Billy writes the chart for $xxx. That is the legal and normal way arrangers work. Billy May may not sell these charts to schools or professional bands or anyone. A publisher who owns the rights to the tunes can sell the charts and give a residual to the arranger or pay him a flat fee.

    You situation is not kosher, although you will not be sued because this is "small potatoes" and "under the radar" and "place the cliché of your choice here".

    I get hired by singers or bands like the Jazz @ Lincoln Center Orchestra to write arrangements. I don't get the rights head of time as the orchestration is the service your selling, not the sheet music. You "give" them a copy of the sheet music to use but that's not what your selling.

    If it were illegal to write arrangements of other people's tunes for money, you would have never heard of Nelson Riddle, Quincy Jones, Billy Byers, Gil Evans, Sy Oliver, Jimmy Mundy, Ralph Burns, Neal Hefti, Ernie Wilkins, Don Costa and so on.

  8. #8
    Distinguished SOTW Member BarrySachs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Band Charts and Copyright??? Anyone know the rules???

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal 2 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dog Pants View Post
    Thanks for the replys guys.

    To paraphrase Harry Belafonte "It was clear as mud but it covered the ground."

    I can't sell any arrangements I write of popular tunes, but I can be engaged to write arrangements of any tune.

    This seems contradictory to me.

    Basically, the boss wants me to write arrangements for the kids bands. By way of compensating me for the considerable time it will take, the schools would buy the arrangements from me.

    Is that educational or commercial?

    Can I still arrange a popular tune or do I have to compose something original?
    Find a way that the compensation is for something other than the arrangements -- say, handling sectionals or conducting the second band while the teacher is busy with the first. Then you're not getting paid for the arrangements and you don't have to worry about it. Clear as mud!
    This is how I "sell" my arrangements to schools and other bands. I get hired as a guest conductor, soloist or clinician and I "give" them some charts as part of the deal.

  9. #9
    Forum Contributor 2008 stefank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Writing Band Charts and Copyright??? Anyone know the rules???

    DP, are you working for the government sector? If so you are probably covered by a standard APRA/AMCOS schools licence (and if you're private school you may have something similar in place) which will allow you to do pretty much what you like in an educational context on school premises. If want to perform these arrangments off school premises then that's another story.

    Are you being employed to write these arrangements? If so, the burden of legal responsibility shifts to your employer (who would also own the copyright in any arrangement you made of a public domain tune). There's quite an important distinction here between whether you're making arrangements in your own time because you're a good guy and feel like it (in which case you own the copyright in the arrangement, and have the responsibility of making the appropriate arrangements with the owners of the pieces), or whether it's part of your duties as an employee.

    If you are commissioned to write/arrange a piece, that's another story again. The composer/arranger usually retains copyright unless specified otherwise in the commission.

    For more information (which is more reliable than my memory) look at the Australian Copyright Council website.

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