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Whiter Shade of Pale organist wins royalties battle


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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The organist on the seminal 1960s song "A Whiter Shade of Pale" has won a long-running legal battle for a share in the royalties for the tune.

 

Matthew Fisher sued former Procol Harum bandmate Gary Brooker in the House of Lords, Britain's highest court.

 

A lower court had ruled in his favor in 2006, granting him co-writing credits and a share of the royalties. Another court partly overturned the ruling in 2008, giving Fisher co-writing credit but no money.

 

=========================================

 

 

That news, of course, leads us to THIS popular thread: LINK

 

:laugh:

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The organist on the seminal 1960s song "A Whiter Shade of Pale" has won a long-running legal battle for a share in the royalties for the tune.

 

Matthew Fisher sued former Procol Harum bandmate Gary Brooker in the House of Lords, Britain's highest court.

 

A lower court had ruled in his favor in 2006, granting him co-writing credits and a share of the royalties. Another court partly overturned the ruling in 2008, giving Fisher co-writing credit but no money.

 

=========================================

 

 

That news, of course, leads us to THIS popular thread: LINK

 

:laugh:

 

Good one! :thu::laugh:

 

 

 

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Interesting. Isn't that a riff stolen from a classical song?

 

I still think that the music should get half the money.

 

I do get annoyed when I'm in the studio recording and someone decides that they're due points because of some minor contribution. I lost half the musical rights to a song because a guitarist changed a major chord to a minor one and the guy who filed the paperwork was his buddy and filed as the two of us were the music. And I see band members argue about this stuff all the time. I prefer either the Beatles position, or the Young Rascals position (we ALL wrote it.)

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Man, what a joke.

 

The guy doesn't deserve a penny.

 

What's in it for the many descendants of J.S. Bach?

 

Nothing, probably.

 

Talk about hypocritical.

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Man, what a joke.

 

The guy doesn't deserve a penny.

 

What's in it for the many descendants of J.S. Bach?

 

Nothing, probably.

 

Talk about hypocritical.

 

Is Bach still covered by copyright law? Or is his work fair game?

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Bach's work is in the Public Domain, so its fair game. I dunno, Whiter Shade of Pale would not be the same song without the organ part that Fisher played. But typically, the words and music e.g. melody are what are put down on copy write applications of old days, and any "Arrangement" credit was not put on the copy write. Technically, Fisher wouldn't be entitled to anything for putting an organ part in a song.

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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As discussed previously, this is in England, which may have differences in copyright/authorship laws from the U.S.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Fisher won because that lifted organ riff is such a dominant part of the song.

 

If it was just a few chords, the court would not have heard it (no pun intended). :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Slightly OT: I play both "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "Air on the G String" which is ostensibly the basis for WSP and I don't think they're all that similar. YMMV

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

-Mark Twain

 

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Slightly OT: I play both "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "Air on the G String" which is ostensibly the basis for WSP and I don't think they're all that similar. YMMV

 

I agree. There are some similarities, but what Fisher laid down is not only original but absolutely classic. The second you hear that first few notes of the organ melody, you know it's WSOP.

Ian Benhamou

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Slightly OT: I play both "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "Air on the G String" which is ostensibly the basis for WSP and I don't think they're all that similar. YMMV

 

I agree. There are some similarities, but what Fisher laid down is not only original but absolutely classic. The second you hear that first few notes of the organ melody, you know it's WSOP.

 

 

 

I agree 100%

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Ry Cooder sued the Stones... they had him come in for sessions, didn't use the sessions, but 'stole' the riffs from the sessions and used them. He lost in court.

 

I can't tell you how many times I have added parts, played parts, helped to change lyrics and arrangements, and never even gotten a mention on the cover, let alone any money. We always considered it a part of the job.

 

Now however, so many guys show up at a studio with a vague idea and want the studio guys to turn it into a song for them, and that's getting weak.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I can see both sides to this. The song wouldn't exist without that organ theme, and the vocal melody sort of follows it.

 

There's nothing truly new under the sun, so I didn't mean to imply there was no talent or creativity involved, or that it was note-for-note and rhythm-for-rhythm a cop of Air on the G String.

 

I just find it hypocritical that someone would get upset about not receiving credit for something they knowingly lifted from one of the classics.

 

The Beatles got really freaked about this sort of thing. When McCartney wrote "Yesterday", the melody was so strong he figured he must have heard it somewhere before. So he asked around, and waited some time before feeling safe releasing it as "original".

 

I no longer worry about this myself, but did for years and it stymied progress considerably on original material.

 

I've read enough interviews with enough artists to know that my situation is common, of a piece coming in one gigantic flash, all parts and details intact. I used to think that meant that it was something I'd already heard and forgotten the author.

 

But I think in this case it's about fair compensation as opposed to who came up with the note progression originally. And in that context, I will agree that the organist is due his share.

 

As for the descendants of Bach, I thought that I read somewhere that German law is a bit different as well, and that they receive some small compensation (not for the procol harum song but for legitimate works of Bach). Anyone know how to verify?

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In the USA, all this would likely be ignored, wouldn't it ?

"Work for hire" & all.

 

The interesting part is whether any royalty payments would be retroactive &, if so, from who would the come, solely the song publishers or would there be some recoupment from Gary Booker & Keith Reid ? What about mechanical/record sales & licensing?

The tangle of international agreemants & enforcement makes this even trickier. Some lawyers could have their work cut out for them, which of course would justify the hefty fees they're likely levying!

 

BTW, the melody doesn't quote extensively from any Bach piece but copies bits from several, such as the moment about 20+ secs. in this version of "Sleepers Awake", which is repeated multiple times.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZg1L6C2PI4

The use of "G String" is greater (check circa 40 sec. mark) but has as much to do with the phrasing's mix of the melody & the accompaniment as any exact quote.

"Stripper's G String"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOVwokQnV4M

 

 

d=halfnote
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Slightly OT: I play both "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "Air on the G String" which is ostensibly the basis for WSP and I don't think they're all that similar. YMMV

 

I agree. There are some similarities, but what Fisher laid down is not only original but absolutely classic. The second you hear that first few notes of the organ melody, you know it's WSOP.

 

 

 

 

I agree 100%

 

+1

 

 

 

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Rod

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I have several sheet music arrangements of WSOP from very easy melody/chord charts to advanced solo piano as well as vocal/piano arrangements. All of them have Fisher's composed melody in the intro and ending.

 

The publishers included Fisher's part because it is what identifies the song and what consumers expect to be included in the sheet music. This is not the case for most sheet music arrangements of recordings that have instrumental intros.

His contribution is recognized and credited for the popularity of the song beyond just the original recording. He should reap in the monetary rewards, IMO.

 

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As discussed previously, this is in England, which may have differences in copyright/authorship laws from the U.S.
They're pretty much the same as here with regards to these issues. Much of copyright law has been standardized internationally in the last few decades.

 

Details may differ. For example, in the US, you have to register to sue, and if you don't register before you publish, you lose the ability to get 'statutory damages'. These kinds of things may not be the case in England.

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Interesting. Isn't that a riff stolen from a classical song?

 

I still think that the music should get half the money.

 

I do get annoyed when I'm in the studio recording and someone decides that they're due points because of some minor contribution. I lost half the musical rights to a song because a guitarist changed a major chord to a minor one and the guy who filed the paperwork was his buddy and filed as the two of us were the music. And I see band members argue about this stuff all the time. I prefer either the Beatles position, or the Young Rascals position (we ALL wrote it.)

 

Bill

When I saw Sir Paul in concert, he bemoaned the fact that they'd done it this way, and as a result, in so many fake books (where often only the first composer is listed), a number of his most cherished compositions are listed as by "Lennon".

 

Simple is good, but not when it obscures the truth. I like how Einstein put it: "Things should be put as simply as possible -- but no simpler."

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Fact is, even if Fisher heisted his concept from the Bach piece, the fact that it differed significantly from the original makes it an original work based on public domain material.

 

I don't know if I like the potential precedent it sets, though.

 

Fisher was a member of the band - that's significant.

 

Of course, these days, every major label contract includes the words "work for hire" - so the session guys that basically write the songs for these cats would have to go after the labels for their money anyway.

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By Griffinator:

 

Fact is, even if Fisher heisted his concept from the Bach piece, the fact that it differed significantly from the original makes it an original work based on public domain material.

 

I've said it before, or should I say I quoted John Lennon when he said "All music is REHASH". Just give a listen to both Traditional and current Country Music. Some times I wonder how a lot of these songs got a Copy Write to begin with.

 

Mike T.

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"Everything that can be invented has been invented." -- Charles H. Duell, U.S. Commissioner of Patents, in 1899

 

Actually, this is a commonly misattributed and overused quote that never happened. But the point is the same. I love John Lennon, but he was pretty bitter when he said the rehash bit.

 

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I prefer either the Beatles position, or the Young Rascals position (we ALL wrote it.)

 

Bill

When I saw Sir Paul in concert, he bemoaned the fact that they'd done it this way, and as a result, in so many fake books (where often only the first composer is listed), a number of his most cherished compositions are listed as by "Lennon".

 

That's a 2-way street, though; John prolly blanched seeing Pauly get credit for some things that were full-on Lennon works...& poor Geo. Martin came out worst of all, getting nothing but his EMI salary until he created his own production company, despite creating major elements of their work throughout their career as a band.

d=halfnote
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Fusker:

 

My company has/had been working on getting patients on a few designs that we have been working on with inventors. It is getting to be a lot more difficult to get a patient on things these days. Of course, the Chinese steal them, patient or not! Products that are made from common components are not something you are going to be able to get a patient on it so easily, in the future. The Supreme Court made a decision concerning this issue too.

 

It has not been so easy getting royalties for copy writes in years past, and as I eluded too in my off-the-cuff remark about China, a lot of countries just steal the products, reproduce them, sell them, and make money on somebody else's idea. Ask Microsoft about Software Piracy.

 

I don't know there was any bitterness in John Lennon's tone when he quoted the above blurb, he was talking about rock music in general during a magazine interview. He had a point.

 

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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Fusker:

 

My company has/had been working on getting patients on a few designs that we have been working on with inventors. It is getting to be a lot more difficult to get a patient on things these days. Of course, the Chinese steal them, patient or not! Products that are made from common components are not something you are going to be able to get a patient on it so easily, in the future. The Supreme Court made a decision concerning this issue too.

 

It has not been so easy getting royalties for copy writes in years past, and as I eluded too in my off-the-cuff remark about China, a lot of countries just steal the products, reproduce them, sell them, and make money on somebody else's idea. Ask Microsoft about Software Piracy.

 

I don't know there was any bitterness in John Lennon's tone when he quoted the above blurb, he was talking about rock music in general during a magazine interview. He had a point.

 

 

Mike T.

 

Oh yeah, he was bitter about the business at that point. I agree with him to a degree, but its a slippery slope. Isn't life a rehash?

Steinway L, Yamaha Motif XS-8, NE3 73, Casio PX-5S, iPad, EV ZLX 12-P ZZ(x2), bunch of PA stuff.
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Yep, there are a lot of robots walking around thinking they are creative. You see it everywhere, not just in the "Arts". :rolleyes:

 

And then there are people that try to take credit for someone else's work. Some years ago I went to a stereo shop to get a new CD player in my Jeep. The Manager made recommendations to save me some money while still getting a good sound. He didn't try to over sell me or buffalo me, very knowledgable and polite. I was so impressed that when I got home I decided to call the owner of the store to let him know how well his manager took care of me. The first out of this guys mouth was "I train ALL my people to handle ALL my customers that way." He went on the brag about how much he knew about running a business, how hard HE worked, on and on and on. Afer I got off the phone with him I started feeling sorry for that poor manager that had to work for such a flaming ASSHOLE in order to pay his bills. I never went back to the store again. I avoid giving known ASSHOLES any of my money.

 

 

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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I still have mixed feelings about this ruling.

 

There are cases where it might be appropriate, and those that are not. The problem is that once precedence is set, instances where it probably would NOT be appropriate to pay royalties (i.e., a drummer doing a generic 4/4 beat) will become harder to defend.

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I still have mixed feelings about this ruling.

 

There are cases where it might be appropriate, and those that are not. The problem is that once precedence is set, instances where it probably would NOT be appropriate to pay royalties (i.e., a drummer doing a generic 4/4 beat) will become harder to defend.

 

Is the standard of "work for hire" regarding session playing no longer in use ?

d=halfnote
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