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#821478 - 05/29/10 09:07 PM Copyright Law, Then and Now  
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david Leinweber Offline
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georgia
I have a copyright law, then and now, question.

It is my understanding that many changes in copyright law came about during the nineties, especially prompted by the internet, Napster, etc. This makes me wonder about how playing other people’s music has changed, legally, in the last thirty years.

It seems like until the eighties or so, copyright law was more reasonable. Here are a couple of examples of how, imho, copyright laws used to make it easier to sing other peoples copyrighted songs. 1) I saw the producer of the old movie The Blues Brothers say that they got all the licensing for the songs featured in the Belushi/Akryod classic film for like 5000$, whereas today people would probably hundreds of thousands of dollars for the old tunes featured in the movie. 2) I also remember Lawrence Welk, which did a weekly show featuring probably 12 “cover songs” per week, over a period of many years. Would you be able to do a Lawrence Welk type show today, or would the licensing fees and royalties make it financially prohibitive. 3) Those old “Greats Songs of the Sixties” books, which often featured sheet music (Hey, does anybody remember sheet music, lol???) for literally hundreds of great tunes, usually sold for less than twenty-bucks. There used to be books like this galore.

Also, a lot of old-school artists ranging from Ray Charles to Perry Como, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer (and others too numerous to mention) routinely performed “cover” songs that they made their own. Today, even little club owners increasingly fear litigation over some local dance band playing copyrighted top-forty songs for their soused patrons. Clearly, something has changed.

Today, my impression we are either way more litigious or hyper-aware of each chance to make a penny, or the law itself has changed quite dramatically. Consider that if a “cover song” is used in a movie, authors and (more likely) former publishers really want a lot more money for using old classic tunes. In a way that is good, since it forces film makers to seek-out indie artists, or unpublished works, where the costs are way, way less. Also, the old Lawrence Welk music-variety shows are hardly ever made today (except maybe Branson, lol), and perhaps licensing law is as much a part of their decline as changing tastes??? Also, you don’t often see the old “piano/vocal/guitar” sheet music compilations like in yesteryear, and if you do they are often considerably more money for considerably fewer songs.

I’m curious about questions like these because it’s my hypothesis that very, very few people really understand copyright law (including the politicians who make it), but that it has a radical effect on our culture. Today, there are far, far fewer songs with a broad, timeless appeal. While contemporary music is undeniably well-crafted and produced, fewer songs seem to achieve the timeless quality of older classics. Maybe it’s at least partially because there are more rules about having others do popular songs, therefore limiting their chance at the broader cultural exposure great songs used to get. One wonders if that’s because the commercial music biz has financial incentives to promote new music and major financial disincentives to play oldies.

I notice this with Christmas music, and/or Christian worship music. Commercial Christian and Christmas music continually forces “new” worship music on people. I even see that very often “new” songs will incorporate Christmas Carol classics into the newer tunes, probably as a way to entice buyers and choir directors to do their songs, while still maintaining royalties. There just isn’t that much money in “Silent Night” at this point. Even in terms of new “arrangements” to something like “Silent Night,” it isn’t like there aren’t already a ton of great arrangements of it in the public domain, so what is the business incentive to do Silent Night? Therefore “contemporary Christian music” today is primarily a bunch of songs nobody has ever heard before, which ultimately diminishes the value and efficacy of worship.

Anyway, with apologies to Harry Fox Agency, my basic question is whether anybody knows very specifically how copyright law has changed in the past twenty years, or if I’m really just imagining things in my mid-life fog. It does seem like during the sixties and seventies other people’s songs were easier to play, record and sing. It does seem like this has made music more ephemeral and disposable. The shelf-life of a song – even a great song – seems way more limited today than in past years. My belief is that changes in copyright law are at least partly to blame for this.

However, I’m not a lawyer and/or I don’t know as much about copyright (then and now) as others on this board surely do. I’m quite eager to hear insights, opinions and facts from others.

Thanks!!!

David




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#821483 - 05/29/10 10:18 PM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: david Leinweber]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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David,

You are not the only one that doesn't understand the copyright law. No one does. The biggest problem is simply the explosion of music into the marketplace. It really can't be stopped. It is much like the current oil spill in the Gulf, the genie is out of the bottle and the only thing we can do is try to manage it. It is much an "every man for himself."

When you have societies like China and India, who are responsible for such runaway piracy of everything, I doubt you are going to be able to police anything.

Many employees of ASCAP and other organizations are quietly being let go and there is a certain feeling of resignation that is inovlved. At the same time some advancements on the front are happening although, like everything else in this cloudy issue, there is probably not much end in sight to the end.

WE are quite frankly in an "entitlement generation" that "wants what it wants and wants it right now." and as long as peer to peer filesharing continues unabated, it will continue to be difficult to police. The power to get the music out to virtually everyone on the planet has trumped trying to keep some kinds of restrictions on it. For every Napster that goes legit or is closed down, hundreds pop up to take their place at outright theft.

So I don't know how to answer your question. I was involved with a delegation from NSAI several years back to Congress and many feel almost powerless to do anything. It is not just music, it is all creative content. There are government officials in areas now that have declared their desire to make all creative content free in a misquided belief that the world has a right to it.

There is no easy or good answers. It is something you probably should keep an eye on, but understand the ramifications that exist for all of us on both sides of the equation.

MAB

#821497 - 05/30/10 12:09 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Ray E. Strode Offline
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Humm,
You can go to the Copyright Web Site and print out everything to answer your questions. However today a copyright lasts for 70 years past the author's life or the last surviving author if there are more than one. In the 60's I think there was a 28 year period and you could register for another 28 years and then the song went into Public Domain. A lot of those are probably still in force today.

Licencing is another matter altogether. Songs placed in a soundtrack, called Sync Licencing probably is negotiated on each individual basis.

Songs recorded for a CD is set by copyright but can be also negoiated if the copyright owner agrees. Otherwise they have to pay the statutory rate. You can print out the current statutory rate from the Web Site.

The songwriter has the right to refuse granting a license if the song has not been recorded and released for public consumpution. After that anyone can record and release the song by paying the license fee. Again you don't have to reduce the fee lower than the statutory rate.

Pro fees, collected by the respective PRO, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, in the U.S. are paid directly to the songwriter(s). You do have to join a PRO and the song has to be registered with the PRO, by you or a Publisher if you have signed the song to a Publisher.

The PRO'S survey a certain number of Radio Stations to determine where the royalities go. Not all stations are surveyed. PRO'S also license places where songs may be played live. And so it goes.


Ray E. Strode
#821510 - 05/30/10 02:27 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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david Leinweber Offline
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georgia
Thanks.

But I guess my original question remains. Could you do a Lawrence Welk show today -- a weekly, nationally syndicated program featuring about 12 covered/copyrighted tunes per week, on a weekly basis? I'm thinking the cost in royalties and licensing fees today would be way more than old Lawrence could have dreamed of.

Could you print a book of the official sheet music to 250 top songs and sell it for twenty bucks a copy? (I've got several of these books from years back.) I bet not.

So, my original question kind of stands: Has the culture changed, or has the law changed?

Maybe it's just inflation of costs like we've seen in medicine, college tuition, etc. If so, the increased cost in music licensing fees way exceeds the rate of inflation.

Last edited by david Leinweber; 05/30/10 02:32 AM.

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#821524 - 05/30/10 03:40 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: david Leinweber]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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The culture AND technology have changed. The same way that when cars became common place. The prices came down. There are now multiple contracts for everything. If you were to have a song in a feature film, that is one rate. Having a background track is a different one, in cable, different. videos are promotion and no money, independents are another, etc.

There are even more changes on the way as artists and musicians are requesting to be paid from royalties. There have been changes to the radio industry, as mainstream terrestrial radio changes to pod casting, high definition and satalite.

This is the murky world. And again, it is hard to collect on "free" which is the fight that has been going on. So your question does stand but is unanswered because now there are so many variables. The best thing you can do is hopefully be involved with publishers who can represent you and know what is going on. The rest is pretty much a crap shoot. Music has often become like collectables. They are worth what you can get someone to pay you for it.

MAB

#821554 - 05/30/10 12:13 PM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Ray E. Strode Offline
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Who was it, maybe the Ellen DeGenres show that was involved in not paying a license fee for song use just recently.

I suppose a Variety Show could be put on today and the licensing fees would be paid. It is the Advertiser that pays for the show hense song licenses so it is possible. Selling the idea to a Network at present may be difficult if the demand isn't there.


Ray E. Strode
#821559 - 05/30/10 12:47 PM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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"Could you print a book of the official sheet music to 250 top songs and sell it for twenty bucks a copy? (I've got several of these books from years back.) I bet not"-David

Off subject...

I remember in my teen years I used to purchase "fake" books with a thousand songs for $12. Black market material that music stores sold under the counter. Every musician knew about them.

As long as the store didn't display them openly, nobody complained. I have more scruples these days. grin

John smile

#821587 - 05/30/10 05:23 PM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Check www.harryfoxagency.com against your song list for your Welk-style show and see what it would cost to license use of the songs. You could sell the advertising for the show for far more than the cost of licensing the songs, in fact, for more than the total cost of putting the show together, if, the big if, you can put together a good show. Hide and watch. Somebody's probably cooking one up right now.


There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? www.garyeandrews.com
#821598 - 05/30/10 06:20 PM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Gary E. Andrews]  
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The Ellen Degeneres show has refused to pay for music liscencing. They claimed that "We just don't roll that way."

MAB

#821622 - 05/30/10 09:19 PM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
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I am not aware of any significant changes to the copyright laws. There have been tiny increases in the various rates paid by radio and performances, but nothing significant.

As for Lawrence Welk, they played a lot of public domain songs and the originals they played were likely negotiated to a fairly low amount. It is simply about what the market will bear. If you want to use an Indie artist song, it's going to be cheap. If you want to use an Eric Clapton song, it's going to cost you. That has nothing to do with changes in copyright laws.

In terms of venues not wanting people to play covers, that's a stupid position for the venue to take. If one mistake is made during the year, by law they must pay for a full year license and any venue that books live music will likely never make it all year without some covers or originals where the song has multiple writers and at least one of them is a member of a PRO. One mistake and you must pay. The fees are reasonable, especially for small clubs where the fee is usually less than a cup of coffee per day. If live music isn't increasing your business by far more than that, then you are booking the wrong artists and shouldn't be having live music in the first place.

In terms of Christmas music or Gospel music, the reason you are hearing more originals is that the artists want to make some royalties for airplay or live performances. If they do covers or public domain standards, they don't make anything (except on internet radio where there is now a performance royalty for the musicians as well as the writers). They play originals also in hope that you'll buy their CD. You probably have multiple versions of all the traditional songs in your collection already, but you won't have their originals so that hopefully will entice you to buy their CD.

As for songbooks and compilation albums of hit songs (like the old K-tel records) those still exist. The book publishers and album producers simple negotiate a lower rate from the writers and artists involved. If they won't negotiate, then they simple include someone else. Nothing has changed and it certainly has nothing to do with copyright laws.

As far as movie soundtracks, it's simply what the budget is. It's all about negotiations. Big artists may want to sell more albums and view it as great promotion of their music so they negogtiate an affordable rate. If not, they don't use the music or bite the bullet and pay the high rate. Indie artists often would allow their music to be used free so if the budget is low, they use indie music. Rarely do I see a film anymore without at least 1 JPF member having a song on the soundtrack.

As for timeless, I bet kids today will feel there are plenty of timeless songs that will stick with them as they get older. I know I still love songs from the 80's when I was in High School and College as well as playing in bands. Timeless is in the ears of the beholder. I always felt Elvis was Cheesy and though I do appreciate many of the older theatrical/musical showtunes, beyond that, I don't know that many "timeless" songs that are more meaningful than songs from my own lifetime. And none of that has anything at all to do with copyright laws in the first place.

I highly suggest you get some books on how the industry works and read them as it seems by your comments you don't understand many of the basics of how things work. John Braheny's The Craft and Business of Songwriting or books by Jason Blume would likely help you. I think after you read those you'll know the answers to all your questions.

Brian


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#822148 - 06/02/10 04:01 PM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Hey, thanks for the comments. I didn't mean to sound as clueless as I probably did, lol. I admit I don't know that much about copyright, though I have several copyrighted works myself. One thing I do believe, though, is that we should have a shorter time for works to enter the public domain -- 25 years should be plenty.

In Europe, early Sinatra and Elvis recordings from the fifties were about to enter the public domain a few years back and record companies flipped. They petitioned governments to retroactively change copyright law to keep these old songs under copyright, despite the original terms under which the songs had been copyrighted. This is not fair to the music-buying fan when the government, at the behest of record companies, just keeps re-writing the law to keep music away from public domain status.

In America, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act effectively renewed virtually every copyright given since the early twenties. Previously you could renew a song's copyright, but it had to be done on a song-by-song basis. This meant that old songs that were largely forgotten had their copyrighted automatically renewed by the DMCA. The effective result was that virtually all music recorded or published since 1922 was placed into copyright. Five record companies were GIVEN (by the government) control of virtually ALL MUSIC ever recorded in the entire twentieth century. That's why copyright can be a problem. Authors and composers die, and their works pass to the public domain (or heirs). Corporations never die, so they can hold copyrights forever and ever.

Copyright law was borrowed from English law (hence the term "royalties") but it comes from an age of mercantilism and the captive markets of the time -- a time when the king granted government-protected monopolies to favored subjects. Customers were controlled by powerful laws that effectively forced them to buy exclusively from the key merchants of the day (e.g. the British East India Company). Copyright law really comes from those mercantilist days. Copyright should never be confused with free markets or private property. Indeed, private property rights in music would mean that people who “bought” recordings could then re-sell the songs on them in a secondary music market, whereas under copyright law this is considered piracy. In fact, if you will notice the newer DRM measures, music is increasingly not defined as “owned” the way I own my old Deep Purple or Floyd Cramer records. With DRM measures in place, it is increasingly impossible to buy and own music.

Yes, copyright is necessary to some extent, though in other cultures many artists have done very well by selling their works on a patronage and/or work-for-hire basis (the way Michelangelo did the Sistine Chapel ceiling).

Copyright provisions are mentioned in the US Constitution, in order to protect authors, artists and (with patents), inventors. But originally in America works went into the public domain after 14 years. As late as the seventies copyright only held for 25 years, unless the copyright was specifically renewed by the copyright holder. Today, copyright is virtually eternal, since it's for the life of the author, plus 75 years. This means that a song like Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," which should have passed into public domain several years back, is now going to be under copyright for many decades to come. Conversely, "America the Beautiful" is – thank God – rightly in the public domain and record companies can't stop people from singing the great national classic.

The way that copyright law was strengthened in the nineties has really hurt our common musical heritage (which is the public domain). It's why Churches today have more trouble making hymnals that they did in the sixties and seventies, where virtually everything except a few recent compositions (e.g. "How Great Thou Art") were seen as freely available to all worshippers. Today, thanks to copyright law, public domain Christian music is getting older and older, as are most congregations that use hymnals, lol. Old geezers are the only ones who remember all the public domain hymns, lol. Every year fewer and fewer people are still around who still relate to the great public domain hymns of the nineteenth century. Meanwhile, newer Christian music is sold in lucrative markets like Lifeway Christian Bookstore, or “Contemporary Christian” radio stations. This means that unlike traditional hymns in a hymnal, contemporary worship music is part of a for-profit market. Now I’m as much for capitalism as anybody else. I’m also not naïve that earlier generations of American Christians involved in music or preaching didn’t often have financial motives. Still, the growth of for-profit, copyright-driven worship music is no doubt one reason our Churches are growing apart along generational lines, imho. A hymnal typically had six or seven hundred hymns in it. Virtually anything in the hymnal was fair-game at any time, for any reason. Today, newer hymnals today that you can buy usually just reprint old versions of the public domain hymns. With the exception of a few newer hymns here and there, there is precious little difference between a hymnal from 1967 and one from 2009. For all the Christian music written in the last fifty years, very little has showed up in the newer hymnals. Meanwhile, almost everything written since the forties is tightly controlled, usually not by writers, but by corporate publishers and record companies. As I said in earlier posts, I think this affects Church growth and demographic patterns in worship. Churches that use hymnals are almost always older folks (along with some lucky young people who have been exposed to this rich musical heritage). Heck, I can almost guarantee that a lot of the people in control of Christian music today, via copyright, aren’t even Christians. It’s all about the money, baby.

I know there is a Christian Copyright, but I've heard it's iffy legally or whatever. Anyway...

Sorry, just a rant, lol!!! I’m going to stop now!!!

Thanks Marc and everybody else who commented on my post.

DL

Last edited by david Leinweber; 06/02/10 04:06 PM.

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#822153 - 06/02/10 04:33 PM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: david Leinweber]  
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Ray E. Strode Offline
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For the history of Copyright Type Statutes of Anne into your Search Engine.

Copyright Law was ammended, in 1976, I think, to current Law of which allows a work to be under Copyright for the life of the author and 70 years from the death of the author or the death of the last surviving author and then it goes into Public Domain.

The reason was, (I think) because of Restraunts and other such places playing music, from a radio station thru a sound system having to pay license fees to the Pro's.

I even heard of the Pro's collecting a license fee from a furniture store that was playing a radio back of the counter. So came a change to copyright. Some who wanted to use Disney Products were not too happy when the copyright was changed.

I'm not sure what happens to Sound Recordings that are registered by Record Companies when they release a Rcord/CD.

If a record continues to sell after copyright runs out only the record companies make money. It is complex.


Ray E. Strode
#822581 - 06/04/10 11:26 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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DL,

You're correct on one thing, that was a rant. You really need to learn how things ACTUALLY work. Then if you are against something, you can argue the facts, and not misguided belief. You admit you really don't understand it, but that doesn't matter, you're happy to rant about a topic you don't know anyway. Seriously, read the facts and then form your opinions and base your arguments on reality and then your arguments will be factual and possibly helpful, to do otherwise is just wasting your own time and the time that others spend reading all this.

It's okay not to know something. All of us know very little about most things in our lives. But why argue the stuff you don't really know yet? It's like when people argue against a piece of legislation and threaten legal action without actually reading it! Oh wait... that's a bad example. = )

Brian


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#822948 - 06/06/10 03:25 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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georgia
HI Brian,

Thanks for your comment. Actually, I don't think I'm as ignorant about copyright as you seem to think. I think you were the one who said you weren't aware of any significant changes to the copyright laws when, in fact, there have been huge changes to copyright laws. I know at least some about copyright from reading history. And, as a Church Music Minister for the past ten years I've noticed how copyright sometimes acts as an invisible divider in Church music. Ditto for folk music.

I personally don't see how any person who cares about music can defend the current copyright laws, in which government gives control of virtually all music written since 1922 to a few chosen music corporations.

Thanks!!!

David Leinweber

Last edited by david Leinweber; 06/06/10 03:38 AM.

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#822951 - 06/06/10 03:42 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: david Leinweber]  
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Originally Posted by david Leinweber
HI Brian,

I personally don't see how any person who cares about music can defend the current copyright laws, in which government gives control of virtually all music written since 1922 to a few chosen music corporations.


Huh ? Music corporations ? Oh, you mean the publishers, who are equally protected along with the writers. Well, not even protected these days.

So you wish to be able to copy my music, my works, and not compensate me for my labour ? I'm just wondering who is doing the "caring" here.

cheers, niteshift

#822963 - 06/06/10 06:10 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: niteshift]  
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Hi David,

Food for thought: The only reason a piece of music is controlled by a large corporate entity is because somebody wrote that piece of music either under contract to the entity or they wrote the music and then sold the rights to it in some manner to the entity. Hopefully the writers knew what they were doing, and thus got a good deal in the bargain. But the point is, it's a freewill exercise, and nobody HAD to do it. In fact, the corporate entity probably got the writer(s) much more payment for their toils than they would have gotten otherwise (and I'm aware of all the famously bad contracts that are possible and that have occurred historically in music - but still - one aspect of a contract is the parties have to enter it of freewill).

While I'm not a lawyer, I think I get what you're saying in that from my understanding some fairly recent legislation extended older copyrights - and the profitable ones are mostly held by the larger corporations that lobbied Congress for the change. Yup, I read that.

But, I think your argument is more that spiritual music should be free for use in congregations and otherwise. So, perhaps a congregation that can't afford the CCLI or other licenses (and ya, I've read them and they are amazingly picky - but only if you think spiritual music should be free) has to stick with the old hymns and so they lose younger members, or it causes division in the church because the old folks don't want to pay for the young kids' music.

I really understand that argument, that hey we are worshiping God, so paying for the music seems unseemly or something. I often feel that way too. But, I really think it boils down to this: Jesus and God I believe stood up for a person receiving just payment for their toils. It's the principal behind why the preacher gets paid. And time and time again, throughout history, the fundamental belief of toil=payment proves to be extraordinarily right. Societies break down or fail to function correctly when that belief is abandoned. So, if the preacher gets paid, why shouldn't the writers and artists behind the worship music?

Last edited by Doug/Liszt Laughing; 06/06/10 06:26 AM.

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#822964 - 06/06/10 06:10 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: niteshift]  
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Deleted - duplicate post...

Last edited by Doug/Liszt Laughing; 06/06/10 06:11 AM.

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#822999 - 06/06/10 12:43 PM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Doug/Liszt Laughing]  
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Ray E. Strode Offline
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Some good points Doug.

David,
Large Corporations/Government don't control Copyrights, Copyright Owners do. Copyright Law came into existence to allow the Creators to recover some compensation for their works before it went into Public Domain.

We have had this argument more than once where some who have posted on this board think they have the right to get music for free. Some have made the argument that just because some released a CD that,(according to them) only had one or two good songs on it that they had the right to get it for free, as a punishment to the Record Companies!

And I suppose some think if the bread in a store is in a wrapper not to their liking they can get the bread for free.

As someone who appears to be in the Religion bent, maybe you've heard the statement: Render to God what is God's and render to Ceaser what is Ceaser's. In other words, pay when it is required.

Last edited by Ray E. Strode; 06/06/10 12:44 PM.

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#823064 - 06/06/10 05:51 PM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
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I don't consider a change in time frames to be a significant change in copyright, but I am seeing this from a completely different viewpoint than you. I am only concerned with the creators getting the greatest level of protection they can. You, based on your posts, seem to only really care about using people's work for free. So we have 180 degree different opinions and goals for what copyright should do. I don't see a change in the length of protection as a bad thing, I see it as a good thing. We'll have to agree to disagree.

You didn't create the songs you want to use for free. They obviously have significant value to you since you want to use them, sing them and record them. Do you give away all your work? Do you come in day after day and received nothing? Nope. Have you ever received something from a family member who passed away? For example, a house or car or perhaps a piece of jewelry? Using your view point, once the person who owned that item passes away, there's a ticking clock until that property is free to anyone to use however they like. Let's say you inherited a house from your parents when they passed away. How would you feel if 10 years after that date, anyone off the street could start renting that home, or moving into it or turning it into somethiny else? What if planned parenthood decided to turn it into a clinic? Using your logic, property should be public domain much sooner than life plus 70 years. So why shouldn't all property have the same rules?

If I write songs and have kids I may want to leave those songs to my grandkids to make money from just like you might want to leave a grandchild an item you earned from your work. If it were up to me, music would be like all property and would not have as public domain date hanging over it. If the public wants to use work I created and left to my estate, why should it become free after any number of years any differently than any of my property?

Intellectual property is no different to me than other work products and should be treated the same. Why have statutory rate so that anyone can record my song as long as they pay a tiny fee imposed on me by the government?

As it stands, the unfairness is already against the creator of the music. I find it offensive when others think they are entitled to use it or free. And using "religion" as a justification is also offensive. If the people who wrote those hymns wanted the churches to use those songs for free, they would have given them ownership of them themselves, which they are free to do. If they choose not to, who are you to take their work for any reason?

There are thousands or perhaps even millions of new Gospel songs being written each year. I bet many of those writers would happily give he songs away to you to use for free. If you don't have the budget to use a popular song, then seek out some new ones or better, write some yourself and perform those. But unless the writers have chosen to give you their works, you need to pay to use them like everyone else.

On a side note, back in the 90's when I used to work for a large music retailer, we tracked theft numbers by genre. Want to guess what genre was more often stolen? Nope, not Rap. That was third. #1 was Contemporary Christian and #2 was Gospel. (And this was a nationwide leading chain). When those shoplifters were caught their primary excuse for stealing was that it was "Gods" music and should be free. I didn't accept that excuse then, nor do I accept it in this scenario either.

Thou shalt not steal seems to be forgotten.

Brian


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#823170 - 06/07/10 02:18 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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david Leinweber Offline
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Hey, I guess people aren't understanding what I'm saying. I'm not slamming people who want to make money from music, or who do make money from music. I have a fairly decent side income from music, so I'm definitely not against profit in music.

I am not saying everybody should just get free music from the internet because record companies suck and only put two good songs and a CD and sell it for 15 bucks. That's the false image copyright lawyers and politicians always paint when they want to shut-down discussion. Also, no, I'm not saying that because a song is Christian in focus the writer should not make any money on the composition. Did I say that anywhere? No, I didn't. Anyway, it's not really fair when every time somebody tries to discuss copyright laws rationally they get compared to shoplifters.

The Constitution says that copyrights should be for a "limited time." Ah, but what is a "limited time?" 14 years is a limited time. 25 years is a limited time. Is the life of the author plus 75 years is a limited time? Apparently the Supreme Court thinks so, but I don't.

I don't believe corporations will ever let go of Sinatra, Elvis, or the Beatles -- even though their early works should be passing into public domain status by now. Barring some revolutionary collapse of our legal system, Frank Sinatra will never, ever, ever, ever become public domain. In other words, the copyrights on his works are "unlimited," as opposed to "limited."

We keep hearing that copyright is to protect incomes for authors and songwriters, but that's not necessarily the most significant power of copyright law. In many countries, copyright laws are used to censor works (especially old ones) and control public access to ideas. One day we will we end up like England, where the King James version of the Bible is still under copyright, or Germany, where copyright laws are used to censor Nazi writings. Disney has also used its copyrights to remove classic American films from the market for reasons of political correctness. In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church used its "perpetual copyright" (Hmmm) to keep the Latin Bible from being translated into common tongues.

Copyright is about controlling access to music as much as it is protecting income for writers and composers.

If you look at things like Social Security, Income Tax Law, and other areas of public policy too numerous to mention, you notice that the government has a pattern of changing the rules as it goes along. In normal life, that's called cheating.

Read about the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act in 1998. This law was basically written by lawyers for the entertainment industry, who wanted to maintain a control on older, classic (and not so classic) works. When the law was passed in 1998, popular culture was about to explode in great music as earlier twentieth century works were scheduled to pass into the public domain. Unfortunately, Congress put the kabash on that, unashamedly saying that they didn't want to disrupt the entertainment industry.

I'm truly sorry if some misconstrued what I was saying. I was not saying that musician's shouldn't get paid for their creative output. I was not saying that Christian musicians should live in poverty and never make a dime when they play for the Lord.

Last edited by david Leinweber; 06/07/10 02:36 AM.

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#823171 - 06/07/10 03:24 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: david Leinweber]  
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Hey David,

It's quite obvious you're not a songwriter.

This site is for the education of all. It's public access, and errors and misconceptions need to be corrected for the benefit of everyone.

Hopefully, if you stay awhile, and actually learn something, you won't feel the need to make uninformed judgement and opinion, which can be damaging to those who don't have a clue.

Songwriters are at the bottom of the musical sh*t pile. Whatever small protection they are afforded is meagre in comparision to other professions.

Please join a PRO, and learn the subject properly.

cheers, niteshift

#823178 - 06/07/10 05:08 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: niteshift]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
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I actually think David's latest post made perfect sense (whether folks agree or not is irrelevent..) it does what earlier posts didn't do and that is use facts more accurately and in context. I wonder why David didn't take the same approach in his earlier posts. Perhaps he's done some reading.

That said, I think there's a valid argument that once a copyright falls into the ownership of a corporation, perhaps the time frame should be different than when in the control of a family. But that only happens once a family sells to a corporation so I don't see how to avoid it. But it's a valid point of argument. It's also relevent to discuss the benefit to society that patents and copyrights do go into the public domain eventually. I think that is the case especially in patent law for medicines. But when it comes to art, I find it harder to believe that it's critical that a song or a cartoon character like Mickey Mouse become public domain... that isn't life or death like a medical patent is for example. People can always create another Mouse cartoon or another song that is different artistically but fills the same need.

Songwriters are among a small number of professions where you MUST by law, allow people you don't even approve of, record or perform your work for a pre-set amount set by government rather than market value. Bob Dylan or the Beatles could get WAY more money than they get now if they could sell use of their property fror what the market could bear. So I think allowing the creator and their heirs to maintain ownership for a long time is fair and reasonable.

And I do agree that I can't imagine Mickey Mouse ever falling into the public domain.. they'll find a way to protect that well past our collective lifetimes.

Brian


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#823201 - 06/07/10 10:54 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: david Leinweber]  
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Everett Adams Offline
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I don't believe Sinatra or Elvis wrote much or any of what they sang,maybe their names might have been on it,but write it, naw.

For the few pennies that have to be paid for the use of music, I can't see why anyone would object to paying it. About one dollar out of a $15.00 CD is divided amongst ten or twelve writers and publishers, big deal. If it wasn't for the writers you'd have nothing to sing to put on your CD. Ask Pepsi or Coke to give up their recipe to the public after a few years, that's a laugh.


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#823213 - 06/07/10 11:33 AM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Everett Adams]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Everette,


Sinatra and Elvis did not write. But their managers insisted that they get the publishing and some co-writing credit on anything they recorded. It is why Dolly Parton turned down Col. Parker on Elvis recording "I'll Always Love You", when Elvis wanted to record that. The song had already been a hit before and she wouldn't give it up. In this day and age she has some regrets on that as she would have loved to have Elvis do that song.

Another friend of mine, Micheal Rogers, tells the story of a song of his father's, hit writer and singer Jimmie Rodgers (not my relative, the one who did "Honeycomb") had the same thing happen. Elvis wanted to record his song "It's Over." Jimmie had had a record out on it as well as Roy Orbison.

What they did was work out a special deal where Elvis could have publishing on HIS version, which he did on the "Aloha from Hawaii" television special. He is pretty glad he did that since the song has paid off to the tune of around $3 million dollars.

MAB

#823247 - 06/07/10 02:27 PM Re: Copyright Law, Then and Now [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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david Leinweber Offline
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georgia
Thanks for all the comments. Hey, you can say I don't know anything about copyright law, or cut off my legs and call my shorty -- but to say I'm obviously not a songwriter...ouch, that one hurts, lol.

DL


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