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Thread: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

  1. #41
    Forum Contributor 2008/Distinguished SOTW Member Swampcabbage's Avatar
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    Default Re: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

    Quote Originally Posted by differencetone View Post
    I don't condone it but it's very unlikely you will get caught. Why would you want to play someone else's solo?
    Well, if you copyrighted the solo to Blue Train you could collect royalties from everyone who quoted it for more then 6 seconds or whatever the limit is on sampling.

  2. #42
    Distinguished SOTW Member saxjd's Avatar
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    Default Re: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

    Andrewfus said:

    it frightens me that one day some handjob copywright lawyer will be in a jazz club, hear a cat reference a coltrane lick, and slap him with a copywright infringement suit. seriously gang, i think this day will come.



    Gary said:

    And lawyers wonder why people run the gamut from frustration to downright disdain for them. Where is common sense in all of this?

    Andrewfus, I would not worry my little head about that. I have practiced over 30 years. First of all, I don't think fragments of melody are copyrightable. Second, it wouldn't make any sense to sue most jazz musicians. Third, I think the establishment would be the target. Fourth, just where in hell will you find a lawyer that would recognize a Coltrane lick that is not a jazz musician who could be a target himself?

    Gary, you can't reasonably attribute Andrewfus's fear and being based on lawyer conduct.

    Both: What I really fear is that I will be in a bar some night, and some jazz musician will attack. me. Since I feel this way, the fear is reasonable and based upon what jazz musicians do.

    (Don't get me wrong, I have seen, and opposed on behalf of my clients, a lot of silly and stupid
    stuff by lawyers.)

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    Forum Contributor 2011, Distinguished SOTW member, and SOTW Bean Burrito spartacus's Avatar
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    Default Re: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

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    Default Re: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Swampcabbage View Post
    Well, if you copyrighted the solo to Blue Train you could collect royalties from everyone who quoted it for more then 6 seconds or whatever the limit is on sampling.
    Everything you publish has a copyright, solos and all.

  5. #45

    Default Re: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

    Quote Originally Posted by differencetone View Post
    Everything you publish has a copyright, solos and all.
    True, but we are all forgetting the most important part. A copyright is only as good as you have the time, money, ability and desire to defend it.

  6. #46

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    Default Re: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Graftonsax View Post
    True, but we are all forgetting the most important part. A copyright is only as good as you have the time, money, ability and desire to defend it.
    That is true and I have been the victim of theft. Rich people get all the justice and more.

  7. #47
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

    Quote Originally Posted by differencetone View Post
    I don't condone it but it's very unlikely you will get caught.
    Get caught for what? I'm not sure which post this refers to.

    Quote Originally Posted by differencetone View Post
    Why would you want to play someone else's solo?
    Again, I'm not sure what post this refers to. However I can answer it.

    If a solo is made famous on a record, an arrangement would often have the solo transcribed as part of the arrangement (e.g. many Glenn Miller charts). I have often had to play the "recorded solo" on gigs, as this is what the audience expects to hear. An example would be the baritone solo on Blue Monday

  8. #48
    Forum Contributor 2008/Distinguished SOTW Member Swampcabbage's Avatar
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    Default Re: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    Get caught for what? I'm not sure which post this refers to.



    Again, I'm not sure what post this refers to. However I can answer it.

    If a solo is made famous on a record, an arrangement would often have the solo transcribed as part of the arrangement (e.g. many Glenn Miller charts). I have often had to play the "recorded solo" on gigs, as this is what the audience expects to hear. An example would be the baritone solo on Blue Monday
    Yesh, playing "Just the Way You Are" without the Phil Woods solo can evoke a near riot in some places. You at least need to play it once in a rehearsal just to prove to the band that you can do it if required. But, then you are pretty much required to do it again once that has been proven. Bestoptions are to learn and play it or pretty you are too stupid to learn it. Not sure the last option witll keep one employed for much longer...

  9. #49

    Default Re: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

    Hey i'm a piano player and since this is the most detailled post on copyright issues concerning jazz solos, i'd be very glad if i got my questions answered here.

    Actually I have the same concern and guess I haven't understood the answer.
    - If I transcribe a solo noone has transcribed before, can I just publish it (and reference to the recording) without paying or notifying anyone?
    - If I transcribe a solo noone has transcribed before, can I just publish it, put in on a chart, write the title of the song, the actual composer of the tune, reference to the recording?
    - And what I'm also concerned about, as a Piano Player: Let's say I checked out the changes of some reharmonization of a standard or a tune that to my knowledge isn't in any realbook (up to know). Can I just publish it, with changes, title, composer, ev. reference to specific recording? (as long as don't write out the melody/head)
    - So to sum up: Composer, Chart/Changes (reharmed or "as-is"), Original Title, and A Solo ... but no melody --> no problem?

    I'd really appreciate if anyone would like to share his opinion on this with me.

    Stef
    -------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    Excuse me for reviving an old thread, butt this is probably the best place to continue the interesting discussion on another now closed thread.

    The law is actually quite clear on transcribed improvised solos, though it is not defined as such. I was concerned about this, so have contacted various royalty collection agencies and solicitors.

    An improvised solo is an adaptation or development of the original theme (head), and/or part of the arrangement, and as such the copyright is owned by the composer of the theme. So for any tune that John Coltrane wrote himself, the copyright of the improvised solo is Coltrane's (and/or any assignee of the rights) . However the copyright of the improvised solo of My Favourite Things is not.

    This is not just the law, but it's the way things have always been don, just look at the author/publishing credits of any jazz record. Nowhere are you likely to see a split.

    For Example,I just picked up the forst Coltrane CD form my collection

    Track 1: Little Old Lady - Hoagy Carmichael & Stanley Adams; Chappell
    Track 2: Village Blues - John Coltrane; Jowcol

    These are the composer/publisher details that radio stations etc. use for logging airplays so that royalties get paid appropriately. If Coltrane has any claim to the solo (or any other part of the arrangement) on Little Old lady it would be there.

    What this means for transcribers is that any infringement of a copyright is an infringement of the author's copyright, not the improviser's. Generally nobody bothers about such infringements of copyright as either they don't know about them or there is little to gained financially from any such action (until the time that a book of transcriptions suddenly becomes very successful).

    Another way to look at it:

    If Transcriber A takes down a solo, and transcriber B was to publish it, it is sad but not an infringement of transcriber's A copyright, as he/she does not have a copyright to infringe in the first place.

  10. #50
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

    Quote Originally Posted by pianoplayerguy View Post
    - If I transcribe a solo noone has transcribed before, can I just publish it (and reference to the recording) without paying or notifying anyone?
    - If I transcribe a solo noone has transcribed before, can I just publish it, put in on a chart, write the title of the song, the actual composer of the tune, reference to the recording?
    You can do that and would probably get away with it, but you wouldn't actually have the legal right to do so as the publisher or composer has the copyright in any improvised solo which is part of the arrangement of their tune.

    Quote Originally Posted by pianoplayerguy View Post
    - And what I'm also concerned about, as a Piano Player: Let's say I checked out the changes of some reharmonization of a standard or a tune that to my knowledge isn't in any realbook (up to know). Can I just publish it, with changes, title, composer, ev. reference to specific recording? (as long as don't write out the melody/head)
    Yes, there is no copyright in just the chord sequence.

  11. #51

    Default Re: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

    Stef,

    The law in the US is complex, and generally favors the full rights of the composer over any sort 'fair use' (a la recording mechanical licenses). I have not heard that improvised solos are property of a song's composer. I was always under the impression that improvisations were a little more 'up for grabs,' if you will, but I could very well be mistaken.

    Regarding the chord changes: I believe this area is a little fuzzier. I don't believe it's quite accurate to state that chord changes are not or cannot be protected be copyright. That said, I do know that Jamey Aebersold distributes a book (Pocket Changes) which does exactly what you describe: chord changes, form, title -- no melody. And, as Jamey is (1) an upstanding citizen and (2) in the public eye, I would expect that this publication is above-board and legal.

    Are you in the U.S.?
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    http://www.youtube.com/user/814jazzer (video lessons & more)

  12. #52
    Distinguished SOTW Member Mark Fleming's Avatar
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    Default Re: copyright law governing transcribed solos?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrewfus View Post
    i know of a twit copywright lawyer in chattanooga that sued a coffee house because one bored employee was playing one of his own CD's over the stereo. something about copywright violation (didnt pay for public performance or something, i dont remember the particulars of the suit, i just know the guy who's CD it was). the lawyer won, almost shut the store down in legal fees.

    copywright has its place, and is a good thing, but in the hands of professional sophists, its gonna eventually screw us all. i just have this feeling....
    This is the kind of urban legend that gets people all worked up about copyright infringement. Until 1999, the copyright holder had to prove actual damages. Since 1999 (in the US), there is a $500 minimum statutory damages award, assuming a federal judge finds copyright infringement. The judge can also award "reasonable attorney fees." So, assuming the the coffee shop wasn't charging a cover, the CD owner had a legitimate copy of the CD, and the patrons weren't at the shop to hear the CD, what are the actual damages? Probably none. Could you convince a federal judge that the damages were more than the statutory minimum? No. Could you convince a judge, after awarding $500 in damages, that the reasonable attorney fees was an award sufficient to shut down the business? No. Could you convince anybody that this story is real?

    I think, were I the defense attorney representing somebody who had performed an improv solo that they had transcribed, I would have a good shot at showing that there is no copyright violation. Copying the solo onto a CD and selling it, yes, an infringement. Copying a video of the performance and selling it, yes, an infringement. Transcribing the solo and performing it, no. Copyright is to protect the work and effort of the writer/performer. The improv was performed (copyrighted performance) but not written. The effort in transcribing the solo takes effort and time. It may take more musical training than the original performer has. It is a "derivative work" that probably, in and of itself, is entitled to its own copyright.

    Is that a grace note at the start of the riff? How many waivers in that trill? Does that run start at mf or ff? Is that a growl before the flip? How far down did the plop plop? Should you transcribe what appears to be a little mistake in timing? These determinations are all the effort of the transcriber, since there is no original written work. Anybody who has transcibed a solo to learn transcription (there is an education exemption) can tell you that the trascription process takes a 100 times the amount of time of the original performance. It's a huge effort (at least for me).

    And since reasonable attorney fees can also be awarded to the successful defendant, it's silly to think that BMI is going to come after you for playing your transcribed solo at a picnic.

    Mark

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