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  1. #1

    Default Alternatives to copyright for composoers?

    what, if any, are the alternaitves to copyright for a composer that is trying to make a living from music?
    .
    i don't know all that "copyright" allows or prohibits, but it seems so dangerously complex.
    .
    some artists give their songs(mp3) away. are these not copyrighted?
    .
    does copyright prohibit a composer/performer from giving/performing his own material?
    if you could hear what i hear, you'd like it a lot better than what i play.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Alternatives to copyright for composoers?

    You need to get some orientation materials from ASCAP.
    If you are the composer, you own the copyright. If you sell your composition to a publisher, he will likely take over copyrights. Most composers sell their copyrights to music publishing houses because of their distribution and advertising network, and their income is off of the royalties. However, this is changing rapidly due to advanced communications technology and self-publishing possibilities.
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    Default Re: Alternatives to copyright for composoers?

    I believe that copyright is how ownership is defined and how ownership is protected. The copyright owner is free to distribute under any license that doesn't conflict with the law. For example, a license which tries to remove fair use would be in conflict with the law.

    Thus the owner could release a copyrighted work into the public domain. Or you could use the Creative Commons licenses where you give others certain rights to use you work but you restrict other activities.

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    Default Re: Alternatives to copyright for composoers?

    Quote Originally Posted by FremontSax View Post
    I believe that copyright is how ownership is defined and how ownership is protected. The copyright owner is free to distribute under any license that doesn't conflict with the law. For example, a license which tries to remove fair use would be in conflict with the law.

    Thus the owner could release a copyrighted work into the public domain. Or you could use the Creative Commons licenses where you give others certain rights to use you work but you restrict other activities.
    You've got to be a lawyer. Can you please clarify how that applies to the OP's question, because I just don't understand it? Thanks.
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    Default Re: Alternatives to copyright for composoers?

    No I am not a lawyer. The op was asking if there is an alternative to copyright. No there isn't. You create a work and you or your employer automatically own the copyright. I have bumped into a similar issue with copyrighted computer code and the licenses that allow you to use it. This is an issue that you might wan't to talk to a lawyer about.

    A license is how you convey onto others the right to use your work.

    The Creative Commons Licenses is a series of pre-written licenses that allow others to use your copyrighted material in a variety of ways.

    One way is to allow others to make copies and give them away as long as they give you credit for your work.

    Other uses that you may allow are to make derivative works, play commercially, only allow playing non-commercially.

    My only personal example is that I wrote a how to guide to a portion of an open source program. Another individual wanted to update my guide and add additional details. So I released my work to him under the GNU Free Documentation License.

    Giving the other person the right to make a derivative work and distribute it ... but he had to give the same right to every one he distributed the derivative document to. And those people could make new derivative works and distribute them but they had to give the same rights to whomever they distributed the next generation of the document. And so and on.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Alternatives to copyright for composoers?

    Hey, thanks Fremont! That was really informative. I appreciate it!
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  7. #7
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternatives to copyright for composoers?

    Good post Fremont.

    I think the owner of a work is always the person who wrote it, and in the first instance they own the copyright (= the exclusive right to make copies), but they can assign that copyright. As Gary says many composers assign the rights to a publisher (i don't think it's legal to actually sell the copyright any more).

    A publisher gets the copyright, often in return for paying an advance on future royalties, and gets a share of those royalties (in the UK this can never be more than 50%).

    Under some contracts a publisher takes a relatively low percentage (15% - 20%), in which case they are really just taking a commission for collecting royalties from various agencies round the world. When they take a larger percentage they generally undertake to actively exploit the work, e.g get bands to cover the song or get it placed in movies, TV or commercials.

    The main bulk of my living is from music that is published, the publisher gets 50% and I'm very happy as they exploit the works very well, 50% of a lot is better than 100% of not much.

    But my contract is not exclusive, so for other music I write I can retain the copyright. This is music I make available for download, and I either charge for it or distribute it for nothing. That is my choice.

    Usually artists who allow free downloads are doing it as a promotional tool, it gets more of their music "out there" so gets a wider following and more people likely to turn up to their concerts, which then becomes the main source of revenue.

    One argument often used by people who think they should not pay for downloads is that it helps the artist anyway. Whether this is true, it should still be the artist's right (IMO) to decide whether to sell or give away the music.


    For reference, the site I use for downloads allows me ("The Artist") to choose the following types of creative commons licence as an alternative to "All Rights Reserved"

    Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives
    This license is the most restrictive Creative Commons license, allowing redistribution. This license is often called the “free advertising” license because it allows others to download your works and share them with others as long as they mention you and link back to you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

    Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike
    This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Others can download and redistribute your work, but they can also translate, make remixes, and produce new stories based on your work. All new work based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.

    Attribution Non-commercial
    This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

    Attribution No Derivatives
    This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you

    Attribution Share Alike
    This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial reasons, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use

    Attribution
    This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered, in terms of what others can do with your works licensed under Attribution.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Alternatives to copyright for composoers?

    Thanks Gary and Pete....

    I have been scratching my head over one issue. That is the concept of free speech and how it conflicts with the concept of a non-disclosure agreement.

    As I mentioned earlier, that the author owns or has a copyright to what they create. But the author can create a license to allow others to use what they create as long as they don't include restrictions that exceed the copyright law. The idea being that the law trumps a contract. But then why doesn't the first amendment of the US constitution trump Non-disclosure agreements? This is why you don't want my advice if this is a serious issue to you.

    For sake of those that find this difficult to follow an NDA "Non Disclosure Agreement" is a contract where I share something with you as long as you don't disclose it to others. The catch may be that you agree to be held responsible for damages that the disclosing of the information causes me. So it is not a criminal matter but a civil mater.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Alternatives to copyright for composoers?

    Quote Originally Posted by FremontSax View Post
    ...I have been scratching my head over one issue. That is the concept of free speech and how it conflicts with the concept of a non-disclosure agreement...
    the same people that wrote the constitution, and believed in it's principles enough to die for it, were freshly familiar with war. they did not tolerate traitors or spies - folks who would share information ("speech") with the enemy.

    an NDA is applied to protect ideas that may be critical to a business being competitve/profitable. it's not meant to restrict "speech", but the sharing of specific ideas and business-critical information.
    if you could hear what i hear, you'd like it a lot better than what i play.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Alternatives to copyright for composoers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ten man View Post
    ...an NDA is applied to protect ideas that may be critical to a business being competitve/profitable. it's not meant to restrict "speech", but the sharing of specific ideas and business-critical information.
    . . . or muzzle employees from revealing, publicly, damaging information that should be generally known for the public's interest, safety or health.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Alternatives to copyright for composoers?

    Quote Originally Posted by FremontSax View Post
    So it is not a criminal matter but a civil mater.
    That actually depends on context. If someone intentionally violates an NDA involving a trade secret with the knowledge or intent that it will injure the owner of the trade secret, then that's a violation of the Economic Espionage Act, and that's a criminal offence. In the U.S., anyway.

    That's an example. Usually this sort of thing is only relevant in cases where a U.S. company wants to go after a foreign company and wants to use the U.S. government to do it. In theory, however, it applies to any place under Federal jurisdiction, which broadly speaking is all interstate commerce.

    That's in addition to whatever civil penalties that might be involved in a lawsuit.

    In answer to ten man's original question: there really isn't an `alternative' to copyright, although there are lots of different ways to manage materials covered under copyright. In principle any work produced in any country which is a party to the Berne Convention (which includes most of the world) is automagically covered by copyright protections. Any official filing or anything like that is entirely to make things easier to prove in a court if you ever have to defend your copyright.

    These days if you're a musician and you're worried about copyrighting a song or something like that, simply putting up a video on youtube would probably be pretty good documentation. If someone at a later date tried to claim the song was their own, if you could point to the youtube video to demonstrate you had the song first that would probably be sufficient to prove your claim (or at least disprove any claim they might have to original authorship).

    Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer. But I am a tech entrepreneur and I've owned a few tech companies and dealt with intellectual property law a lot. And in my experience, in the final analysis all legal analysis is bunk and in the end all that matters is what you can convince a given judge (and possibly a given jury) on any given day.

  12. #12
    Distinguished SOTW Member Tom Goodrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alternatives to copyright for composoers?

    As I have used the concept, copyright is indeed an automatic function giving the author of a work exclusive rights to use that work. The answer to the original question is that, if you are serious about making money from music (I'll wait for the laughter to die down), retain all rights to your work until negotiations are complete with a publisher or an agent you trust.

    I publish my songs by playing them on the soundclick.com web site. There I state the type of rights I claim. Often I claim no rights. The song is in the Public Domain and anyone can do whatever they want with it. That generally means I don't think much of it - easy come easy go. But often I issue the Creative Commons license where I don't mind people copying the song as long as they don't try to make money from it. Then on some I cliam full rights because I suspect someone might want to use the song in some way.

    I do not want the complication of marketing or making money from a song. I am just having fun. I do not expect to ever work with a publisher.

    It is your call. But do not be afraid of something that is intended to protect you. If you give it away, you have nothing to defend.
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