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#1125354 - 03/14/17 12:35 PM Obtaining a Compulsory License  
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 3,797
Kristi McKeever Offline
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Kristi McKeever  Offline
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USA
I'm wondering if you guys can tell me more about something I received in the mail. It's a one page certificate from the HFA agency:

a Notice of Intention to Obtain a Compulsory License for Making and Distributing Phonorecords. The Licensee is Spotify USA.

The title is the same as a lyric I wrote several years ago. I'm not aware of it ever becoming a song, but interestingly enough, this lyric was part of a "Collected Works" (of lyrics) that I sent to the Library of Congress several years ago.

I also posted it here on JPF in the Lyric Critique Forum back then.

Anyway, on this certificate, my name is listed as the copyright owner and the recording artist is someone I can google and his name comes up as a professional musician/composer.

So naturally I am curious, and go to Spotify, find the song title under his name, and play it. Very nice song, however, soon I realize it's an instrumental-only and my lyrics are not part of the song.

I know a little bit about compulsory licenses and kind of understand how it works. Seems to be standard practice, but I'm a bit perplexed as I have no idea why I am receiving this notice. confused

Anyone have any idea what I should make of it?

Thanks so much! smile

Kristi


A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write,
if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be,
he must be. -- Abraham Maslow, American Psychologist
#1125356 - 03/14/17 01:10 PM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Kristi McKeever]  
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Jody Whitesides Offline
Jody Whitesides  Offline

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They have made a mistake and you should make them aware that you're not the correct composer for that version of said title. Reason being is, they'll be collecting mechanical royalties for each stream and then eventually paying you.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#1125357 - 03/14/17 01:22 PM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Kristi McKeever]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Well,
In this case the Artist/Label/ Publisher couldn't find you and went thru the Library of Congress to obtain the license.
It is kind of mistifying if you never had a demo done or pitched the song to anyone.
You may need to request more information from the Library of Congress in case they are talking about someone else's song.

A Compulsory License issued by the Library of Congress would only be issued if a song was already Published and the Publisher refused to issue a license to someone. Once a song is published, released for public consumption, anyone can record and release the song by paying the Mechanical License. Since your song has never been published, I assume, a Compulsory License cannot be issued by the Library of Congress.


Ray E. Strode
#1125375 - 03/14/17 06:39 PM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Kristi McKeever Offline
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Thanks Jody & Ray,

Yeah, no one I know added music to that lyric of mine.

The recording artist is a composer, so he should be getting any compensation.

So strange! The agency has contact info to address questions to too.

Kristi


A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write,
if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be,
he must be. -- Abraham Maslow, American Psychologist
#1125377 - 03/14/17 07:17 PM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Kristi McKeever]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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John Lawrence Schick  Offline
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Originally Posted by Kristi McKeever
Thanks Jody & Ray,

Yeah, no one I know added music to that lyric of mine.

The recording artist is a composer, so he should be getting any compensation.

So strange! The agency has contact info to address questions to too.

Kristi


Hopefully it's not someone you don't know that stole your lyrics Kristi. Either way it would be interesting to hear the song in question.

Best, John smile

#1125393 - 03/15/17 08:31 AM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Kristi McKeever]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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Everett Adams  Online Content
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If your lyrics were the inspiration for the instrumental version, you should own a share of the copyright. It would work in reverse if a lyric was written to an instrumental track. I'm no lawyer but that sounds reasonable to me.

#1125415 - 03/15/17 12:46 PM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Everett Adams]  
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Jody Whitesides Offline
Jody Whitesides  Offline

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Park City, UT, USA
Originally Posted by Ray E. Strode
A Compulsory License issued by the Library of Congress would only be issued if a song was already Published and the Publisher refused to issue a license to someone. Once a song is published, released for public consumption, anyone can record and release the song by paying the Mechanical License. Since your song has never been published, I assume, a Compulsory License cannot be issued by the Library of Congress.

They don't always contact the publisher. I get NOIs all the time from various services via HFA and also MusicReports who have never contacted my publisher (Me). These companies generally don't contact the publisher, they just get the CL and be done with it.

Originally Posted by Everett Adams
If your lyrics were the inspiration for the instrumental version, you should own a share of the copyright. It would work in reverse if a lyric was written to an instrumental track. I'm no lawyer but that sounds reasonable to me.

You can't copyright a title. There's no way to prove that someone would spend their days looking thru the library of congress to find unreleased lyrics to gather inspiration. While Kristi didn't say it outright, pretty sure she meant that it was the same title for her lyrics and said composer's song (which is apparently instrumental). Thus the only similarity is the title, which can't be copyrighted. In that regard its pretty clear that a mistake has been made and needs to be corrected by telling HFA. Chances are there may be a similar issue at MusicReports for other streaming services as well.

This example is another great reason why artists need to be diligent about their business.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#1125430 - 03/15/17 01:57 PM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Kristi McKeever]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Ray E. Strode  Online Content
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Brunswick, Ga. USA
Once Again,
If someone wants to record and release a copyrighted song they have to get permission form the copyright owner, either an individual or publisher if the song is assigned to a publisher. Publisher's many times join the Harry Fox Agency who can issue a Mechanical License on a request. I believe Harry Fox as well as the Library of Congress if they issue a Mechanical License require the full statutory rate. If a song has not been Published, distributed for public consumption no one can invoke a Mechanical License. If you assign your song or songs to a song library I would assume you, (As the Publisher), have given permission to distribute according to Copyright Law.


Ray E. Strode
#1125467 - 03/16/17 08:14 AM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Kristi McKeever]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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I know you can't copyright a title, so if he only used a title, why bother getting a compulsory license at all. Just the lyrics alone would not have a chord progression or a melody but it could have inspired him to write one, making them co-owners of the song. And like you said it could be another song all together he asked the license for and Harry Fox got it mixed up. Strange, but that is not Kristi's fault.

#1125470 - 03/16/17 09:31 AM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Everett Adams]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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Originally Posted by Everett Adams
I know you can't copyright a title, so if he only used a title, why bother getting a compulsory license at all. Just the lyrics alone would not have a chord progression or a melody but it could have inspired him to write one, making them co-owners of the song. And like you said it could be another song all together he asked the license for and Harry Fox got it mixed up. Strange, but that is not Kristi's fault.


I agree with you Everett. If lyrics guided the melody, then the lyricist should be a co-writer. I do instrumentals of all my songs. I always give the lyricist equal billing and royalties.Rightfully so. Though if a composer is simply inspired by someone's lyrics, then it doesn't apply. That would be no different than being inspired by a movie, book, or person.

Best, John smile

#1125478 - 03/16/17 12:11 PM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Everett Adams]  
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Jody Whitesides Offline
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Originally Posted by Everett Adams
I know you can't copyright a title, so if he only used a title, why bother getting a compulsory license at all. Just the lyrics alone would not have a chord progression or a melody but it could have inspired him to write one, making them co-owners of the song. And like you said it could be another song all together he asked the license for and Harry Fox got it mixed up. Strange, but that is not Kristi's fault.

This isn't the composer looking for a license. This is a streaming service, directly named by Kristi: Spotify. They have to send out an NOI because its the law. Obviously HFA got it mixed up. No its not Kristi's fault. But she should inform HFA of the mixup. She isn't due someone else's royalties just because their songs contain the same title.

Why bother getting a compulsory license? Because the music for said song title by composer who isn't Kristi is being streamed at Spotify. That is why. Spotify owes the mechanical royalty of that song to the rightful person.


Jody Whitesides
A Funky Audio Lap Dance For Your Ears!
www.jodywhitesides.com
#1125497 - 03/17/17 07:57 AM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Kristi McKeever]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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Everett Adams  Online Content
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How would Harry Fox even have Kristi name and lyrics in their catalogue unless she registered it with them. I have no songs with HF, I register with their Canadian counter part. It does seem like a comedy of errors on someone's part. I agree, maybe Kristi should touch base with Harry Fox to see just what is going on. It could get messy later on down the line when the rightful owner come looking for his/her royalties.

#1125519 - 03/18/17 04:10 AM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Kristi McKeever]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
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Jody and Ray have it right. Perhaps Kristi should reach out, let the artist know of the screw up and offer to write a song together in honor of their unlikely path crossing. Afterall, she writes lyrics, he writes music, and at worst she could make a new friend and create a complete song together. And in the very unlikely case he somehow DID use her lyric and admitted it setting off this scenario (though I really doubt it) you'd learn that too. Any potential royalties are rightfully his, so it's the right thing to do and something good beyond just doing the right thing could come out of it.


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#1125661 - 03/21/17 03:27 PM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Kristi McKeever]  
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Pat Hardy Offline
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Once you have a release, eventually you'll start receiving them. I think you should get some money for this, like 9 cents each copy distributed, or downloaded, but I'm not sure.
I just file them and don't give them much thought. If some artist sends me one, and it's a big hit, that's another story, but until then, it's just nickels so I don't think much of it. The two artists who have recorded my songs, I think they registered with HFA, and that's why i occasionally get them.

Last edited by pathardy; 03/21/17 03:29 PM.
#1126118 - 04/02/17 12:42 PM Re: Obtaining a Compulsory License [Re: Pat Hardy]  
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Kristi McKeever Offline
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Kristi McKeever  Offline
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Well, okay, thank you all for your input and advice! smile

I emailed Harry Fox Agency as per all your suggestions here and told them of the error and itís been two weeks and I havenít heard anything back. So, there it is.

Tryin' to do the right thing. Thatís all one can do!!


A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write,
if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be,
he must be. -- Abraham Maslow, American Psychologist

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