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opinions on odd (C) issue ?


d  halfnote

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The Dealio:

In the past, working with a partner, we composed numerous songs.

Most were either clearly created by one or the other.

A few were very mixed.

We're currently at odds (over completely separate, non-musical issues).

 

My intent is to use some of those compositions for a project that would involve copyrighting them, assigning publishing, etc.

Most are clearly my creations in terms of lyic, melody, etc., involving the former partner's chord progs &/or ideas for title, non-copyrightable things.

 

However, I'd like to include him as co-author as a gesture of respect (& to avoid charges of rip off). I could just leave him out & be on solid legal ground as author.

 

What's yer opinion on © &/or publishing material without someone's previous aggreement to be listed as co-writer ?

d=halfnote
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He should be so fortunate to have worked with you. Ethically I think you're absolutely correct to include him. It's the right thing to do, even though you may not be on good terms now. Always best to take the high road. There may be need for some interaction & agreement, though, at least in terms of performing rights organizations. For BMI I know that I need to submit the full name (including middle name) & SS# of any credited co-composer. For copyright, I don't know, but copyright is a lot less important IMO than getting the BMI/ASCAP thing set up, since they are where royalties come from.
Scott Fraser
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Personally & professionally, I always advise that people take the high road as well. If the compositions never get huge, you've lost pennies. If they blow up, you still have half a fortune.

 

But if you get nasty with copyright assignment, what you really gain is a bad reputation.

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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You're doing the right thing to think of your fellow composer. Perhaps his contributions can help lead to a great hit or two. If you have split the sheets then contact him and have a non-confrontational business discussion. Advise him that no matter that his contributions are not copyrightable, you still want to include him with his permission, just in case there are future profits. If he declines, go ahead with your plans knowing you made the offer...
Take care, Larryz
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Personally & professionally, I always advise that people take the high road as well. If the compositions never get huge, you've lost pennies. If they blow up, you still have half a fortune.

 

But if you get nasty with copyright assignment, what you really gain is a bad reputation.

 

Good advice here, and from everyone really. I've earned small bits of songwriting $ in different projects-and when I say small bits, I'm talking double digits turning up each quarter now. It would feel silly to have quibbled over these amounts.

 

Good luck with it, could be a good olive branch.

 

And also, good to see you again, D :)

 

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What's yer opinion on © &/or publishing material without someone's previous aggreement to be listed as co-writer ?

I suggest that you seek valid legal counsel then present the legalities when soliciting opinion.

 

Business is business. It isn't friendship.....good or bad intentions. As long as you gather the legal details, take appropriate action and share this with your partner(s) there is less room for misunderstanding, hurt feelings, potential aggressive action, etc..

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I think you can copyright the thing fairly, say you did all of the melodies so you copyright the melodies 100% to you. He does 25% of the lyrics so you give that 25% to him. You record and perform it, you take all of the sound, recording, and performance. You can break it up like that.
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Hey, d. Haven't seen your handle here for a while. I missed ya.

 

And I agree with those who suggest the "high road". It's best not only for your conscience, but to avoid any legal hassles that might pop up. You may still need this guy's explicit permission to do so, and if he's a bitch and refuses, it's good to also check into other legal aspects that allow you to use this material otherwise.

 

Not being a legal eagle, I'm only guessing. Check out either road.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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I agree with the ethically right thing.

 

However, like Phloid says, business is business. I would seek legal advice in the event that on what we would normally perceive as doing the right thing may create other legal issues. Like the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. I would do my best to be informed about what that really means and what legal rights the co-author would have in the future. There may be other options like buying out his rights to the song, etc. that you may not have considered.

"Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind"- George Orwell
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Interesting that you got very different advice here than you did with the exact same post on the Keyboard Corner. While, ethically, I agree with everything said here, I think the actual legal context given over there tells a completely different story. Just goes to show that maybe you should be careful about exactly what type of advice you seek on the internet - not that I'm in any way slighting any advice given here. I value this forum a great deal. But we are NOT lawyers, and the law is not our strong suit. In fact, to the contrary, I think often it flies in the face of what most of us would think makes common sense.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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But we are NOT lawyers...

 

Well, actually...

 

Look, I know what the legal aspects of this entail. But it is my opinion that when songwriting partners start haggling over the little details of who wrote what, they're also potentially laying the groundwork for destruction of that partnership.

 

I've seen some bands with very complex legal agreements, where you have songwriting credits (and thus, royalties) that are divided among the band members based on participation in 3-5 different legal entities. That creates friction. It is often needlessly complex.*

 

Sure, you could say "but that's the business."

 

To which I counter, "only if we make it thus."

 

 

 

 

 

* its one thing if you have a group of people who coalesced into a band, and another thing entirely if there is a core artist or group of artists and everyone else is an employee. See Steely Dan, C&C Music Factory, or KISS.

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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Interesting that you got very different advice here than you did with the exact same post on the Keyboard Corner. While, ethically, I agree with everything said here, I think the actual legal context given over there tells a completely different story. Just goes to show that maybe you should be careful about exactly what type of advice you seek on the internet - not that I'm in any way slighting any advice given here. I value this forum a great deal. But we are NOT lawyers, and the law is not our strong suit. In fact, to the contrary, I think often it flies in the face of what most of us would think makes common sense.

 

I disagree with some of the 13 Keyboard posts so far and think you have better answers on our thread. For instance copywriting the "C chord" and "I IV V I chord progressions" will get you nowhere. You may be able to file the forms but you will waste a lot of time and money trying to enforce your copyright. I have it on good authority (i.e. Robin Frederick which you can check out in her book, that chords and progressions are not copyrightable in her opinion). There are thousands if not millions of songs and books in I IV V and other common chord progressions like II V I, that would gridlock any future song writing, if they could be copyrighted and enforced. Many of the keyboard posters have indicated on the keyboard forum that most of them are not lawyers and know when they are over their legal beagle head with their answers. One of the posters did seem to have some good legal experience...

 

I agree that internet forums are not the place to go for legal answers (although we have an attorney or two on this forum like Danny A, that give us some good food for thought). We share our opinions and ideas and have some fun discussing and/or throwing in our 2 cents...no one should rely on our thoughts on any legal matter, but then again it may give someone some ideas to discuss when they get ready to pay out those attorney fees...

Take care, Larryz
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I have it on good authority (i.e. Robin Frederick which you can check out in her book, that chords and progressions are not copyrightable in her opinion).

 

Chord progressions are not copyrightable. Melodies are, & precedent has established exactly how many notes it takes to constitute a copyrightable melody. IIRC from the George Harrison "My Sweet Lord" case it is 11 consecutive notes.

Scott Fraser
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When you copyright you can copyright separately, the words can be split up percentage wise, separately so can the melody, and separately, so can the sound, recording, performance, (which the sound, recording, performance is done in one part, or it was last time I looked)

 

All in all there are three categories which can be separately be split by percentage, words, music, and sound/recording/performance

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contact him and have a non-confrontational business discussion.

That's the snag, refusal to respond b/c of some attitude. Questions of authorship aren't the point.

 

This leaves me with option of shelving use (unacceptable) or proceeding along an apparently (from what I'm learning in tryna get opinions for various sources) unusual situation.

 

This precedes a planned online marketing campaign & would involve both creative © & mechanicals of various sorts (I hope) as well as the intention to not exacerbate animosity...or at least avoid annoying disputes.

 

Accounting can handle held royalties but the questions of [1] assigning someone authorship if they then claim not to want it (potentially "damaging their reputation") & [2] consigning material to a PRO (as Scott F, saliently addressed above, & which may decide the matter for me) seem tricky.

 

VARIANT QUESTION: Does certified notice of intention to procede sound adequate ?

d=halfnote
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I suggest that you seek valid legal counsel then present the legalities when soliciting opinion.
Always best advice but also sometimes a costly (& not always dependable or with precedent) option.

I was hoping that someone might've encountered something like this before but the more I ask the more it seems unusual.

d=halfnote
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I suggest that you seek valid legal counsel then present the legalities when soliciting opinion.
Always best advice but also sometimes a costly (& not always dependable or with precedent) option.

I was hoping that someone might've encountered something like this before but the more I ask the more it seems unusual.

 

Also, it would ideally need to be a lawyer specializing in entertainment law. A generic lawyer knows law, but not the special cases relevant to show business, which is a pretty specific sub-set of legal-dom. Might be hard to find an entertainment lawyer outside of LA, NY, or Nashville, but perhaps info & advice could all be done via email or phone.

Scott Fraser
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Right , SF, but even then a legal opinion is an opinion that one has to purchase, which is why I'm tryna get ideas beforehand. Unfortunately this is turning out to be an apparently unique quandry.

 

FWIW, I've been re-reading some stuff on Frank Z lately, which makes me feel closer & closer to the deciion one imagines he might 've made (& thanks for the remark abt the SS # on PRO forms. That may be the clincher).

d=halfnote
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Might be hard to find an entertainment lawyer outside of LA, NY, or Nashville, but perhaps info & advice could all be done via email or phone.

 

We're out there in varying numbers. Entertainment is more than just the the Grand Old Opry, Hollywood, Broadway and major music labels. Indie labels, indie film makers, college & semipro sports- even things like local news and such fall under the heading.

 

And because of that, you're seeing more of the LA/NYC bunch branch out. A goodly number of the ones I knew in Austin in the 1990s started in LA & NYC.

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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contact him and have a non-confrontational business discussion.

That's the snag, refusal to respond b/c of some attitude. Questions of authorship aren't the point.

 

This leaves me with option of shelving use (unacceptable) or proceeding along an apparently (from what I'm learning in tryna get opinions for various sources) unusual situation.

 

This precedes a planned online marketing campaign & would involve both creative © & mechanicals of various sorts (I hope) as well as the intention to not exacerbate animosity...or at least avoid annoying disputes.

 

Accounting can handle held royalties but the questions of [1] assigning someone authorship if they then claim not to want it (potentially "damaging their reputation") & [2] consigning material to a PRO (as Scott F, saliently addressed above, & which may decide the matter for me) seem tricky.

 

VARIANT QUESTION: Does certified notice of intention to procede sound adequate ?

 

Before you proceed, you may wish to see if you can work with a mediation firm to resolve things.

 

Mediators are a lot like lawyers. Many (like me) ARE lawyers, but instead of representing a party, they're more like refs. Their "client" is the process- they use a variety of techniques to keep people communicating to find solutions to their own problems.

 

The hourly rate you pay may be the same, and many of the fees are up-front, but typically, mediated disputes are resolved in a fraction of the time of legal action.

 

They may also be easier to find than legal specialists in entertainment law.

 

And yes, mediated agreements are as legally binding as any other contract.

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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I Like Danny A's suggestion to approach him(or her) through a 3rd party mediation firm and/or attorney that is in the business. They are well equipped to deal with these kinds of situations. In the book I'm reading "Shortcuts to Hit Song Writing" that I mentioned above, the author states "in the country format frequently [all] of the top ten songs are collaborations". Collaborating is a recommended songwriting technique and some people even do it for free just to play a part in a project and maybe get some name recognition. Since neither of you have anything in writing, and for some reason this person no longer wishes to communicate with you, perhaps he would respond to a legal offer of a percentage of any future royalties coming from a legal firm...

 

I don't think a notice of intention to proceed is a good idea unless it is written by your legal representative...I would guess that the copyright would serve that purpose, if you decide to proceed.

Take care, Larryz
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I have it on good authority (i.e. Robin Frederick which you can check out in her book, that chords and progressions are not copyrightable in her opinion).

 

Chord progressions are not copyrightable. Melodies are, & precedent has established exactly how many notes it takes to constitute a copyrightable melody. IIRC from the George Harrison "My Sweet Lord" case it is 11 consecutive notes.

 

<--- here's a very cool Youtube clip that convinced me that the He's So Fine camp had a good case against George. Before I watched this clip I thought the court was naming that song in just 3 notes and that the decision was unfair. +1 on the chord progressions not being copyrightable and I found it weird that at least 3 of the posters on the Keyboard forum believe they are. I decided to stay out of the fray and just let them discuss amongst themselves...

 

Ps.

<---Here's another classic case where C.Berry was credited with writing Surfing USA...
Take care, Larryz
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