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copyright

folkyshaun 24 Feb 09 - 03:12 AM
Richard Bridge 24 Feb 09 - 03:22 AM
Anglo 24 Feb 09 - 03:31 AM
Richard Bridge 24 Feb 09 - 04:17 AM
matt milton 24 Feb 09 - 04:59 AM
matt milton 24 Feb 09 - 05:02 AM
Bryn Pugh 24 Feb 09 - 05:02 AM
matt milton 24 Feb 09 - 05:09 AM
Richard Bridge 24 Feb 09 - 05:18 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 05:28 AM
matt milton 24 Feb 09 - 05:54 AM
MaW 24 Feb 09 - 05:57 AM
Brian Peters 24 Feb 09 - 05:59 AM
matt milton 24 Feb 09 - 06:15 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 06:43 AM
Brian Peters 24 Feb 09 - 07:22 AM
Richard Bridge 24 Feb 09 - 07:29 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 07:38 AM
pavane 24 Feb 09 - 07:46 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 08:03 AM
pavane 24 Feb 09 - 08:26 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 08:31 AM
pavane 24 Feb 09 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,MrMan 24 Feb 09 - 09:16 AM
GUEST,MrMan 24 Feb 09 - 09:18 AM
Richard Bridge 24 Feb 09 - 10:08 AM
Betsy 24 Feb 09 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,MrMan 24 Feb 09 - 10:30 AM
mrwassail 24 Feb 09 - 11:22 PM
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Subject: copyright
From: folkyshaun
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 03:12 AM

Hi Folks. Whats the legal position of using traditional folk lyrics? Does anyone own the copyright or can anyone just use them?


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 03:22 AM

There have been several threads on this and related topics. However, in summary, in general, in most jurisdctions, copyright subsists for the life of the author plus 70 years and to the end of the calendar year. After that copyright in the respective work has expired and the work may be reproduced without infringing copyright.

Howeever, there may have been adaptations to the earlier work. If they are "sufficiently substantial" (a term of art at least in UK law) then those adaptations will have their own copyright, for their own duration.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Anglo
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 03:31 AM

You use traditional folk lyrics, you claim them as public domain, there should be no problem. If someone thinks they 'own' a traditional song, it's their perogative to sue you, but I don't think they have a leg to stand on. If they do sue, it's probably up to you to find a version older than their copyright claim. I've never had a problem.

Neither am I a lawyer.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 04:17 AM

In the UK the PRS will hammer the premises if they do not have a PRS licence, and they do not scare off easy!


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: matt milton
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 04:59 AM

If this isn't hijacking the topic, however, I'd like to know more about the shadier area of TUNES in traditional song. Something I've never understood.

For example, I sing "Willie of the Winsbury" to a tune I know from versions by Sweeney's Men and Anne Briggs. I know it's a Child ballad, but aren't the Child ballads just lyrics? Did Child compile tunes as well?

I have no absolutely no idea whether the tunes of various old ballads I know and love were composed entirely by the musicians whose versions I know best or whether they really are ancient public domain melodies, as it were.

To put it another way, if I were to fit a tune to one of, say, Percy's Reliques (which to my knowledge are also ballads with no tunes attached) then someone in theory ought to owe me a royalty if they covered it on an album? After all, they would have chosen to use the tune I came up with, rather than writing their own one.

I keep meaning to start a thread asking for suggestions of good sources of tune-free ballads and lyrics.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: matt milton
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 05:02 AM

just noticed that my repeated use of the word 'tune' in the post above might be confusing: I didn't mean to fit a pre-existing instrumental tune to pre-existing lyrics; I meant writing new orginal music for lyrics that don't have a melody attached.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 05:02 AM

It will, I think, depend on the tune in quo.

The tunes published in Bronson are copyright.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: matt milton
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 05:09 AM

In fact, I can give a much better example. I've just written a waltz-time, countryish melody to John Keats' poem "Fill for me a brimming bowl". (If you google the words to that poem you'll see that it's a great poem to set to music: it scans and rhymes really organically and isn't remotely fussy.)

The poems of John Keats are out of copyright for obvious reasons. Strictly speaking a book publisher could claim I was using the version printed in their book, but as it is a poem printed in several different books by several different publishers, they couldn't enforce that: even more so as I tweak the odd archaism for the sake of meter.

Could I not copyright a recording of that as "John Keats/Matthew Milton"? I can't think of any reason why not.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 05:18 AM

Copyright arises automatically in an original work.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 05:28 AM

But remember you have to be able to PROVE that.

The learned counsel on the thread will undoubtedly correct me if I'm wrong on this, but surely "copyright" means the right to make a new independent copy of any public domain material, no matter what source you found it in - doesn't it?

So if you write the Keats poem out again, my assumption has always been that they can't touch you; and the same goes for, say, a piece of music by Bach or Handel, even if you first see it in a published edition. (And where else are you going to see stuff like that?) This leads directly to my next question:

The tunes published in Bronson are copyright.

Does that mean that they were all written by someone who died later than 1938? I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I'm genuinely confused! How can Bronson have copyright on known traditional ballad melodies that have been sung for centuries?

In the UK the PRS will hammer the premises if they do not have a PRS licence, and they do not scare off easy!

No kidding. And instead of enhancing revenue from music, all it seems to be doing is killing it off entirely so that nobody gets nuffink. As I hear it, shops can't even have a transistor radio playing on their premises without getting penalised if they don't have a license - is that true? Did Kwikfit really lose a court case over this or is that internet scare-talk?

Hmmmmm, let's think, hard: What are they going to do, pay a zillion quid or shut the music off/out?


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: matt milton
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 05:54 AM

"The tunes published in Bronson are copyright.

Does that mean that they were all written by someone who died later than 1938? I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I'm genuinely confused! How can Bronson have copyright on known traditional ballad melodies that have been sung for centuries? "

Yes, I'd like to know the answer to that one too.

The only reason that I even brought up book publishers regarding copyright, is that I have direct experience of reproduction problems with Shakespeare quotations. I was involved in putting together a Shakespeare textbook for students, and we decided to do it completely by the rules: the author was using Oxford Shakespeare editions for all the quotations, so we contacted Oxford Shakespeare and paid them a fee for use of all the quotes.

If we could have been bothered, we could have customized the quotations a little – examined 4 or 5 different editions from different publishers, integrated any minute differences and simply not specified any source.

But that's probably something unique to William Shakespeare's plays (what with different folios etc) and unique to that situation (we were giving line number references etc). It's also something that might apply to, say, an obscure poet that is only published by one publisher. In practice, however, I think any publishers would have a lot of difficulty actually enforcing this, wouldn't actually want to take you to court and wouldn't care.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: MaW
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 05:57 AM

It's true, I think - the PRS come down on you like a plague of lawyers if you have a radio or TV in the workplace without a PRS licence. I haven't yet found a satisfactory explanation as to why the licensing fees paid by the broadcasters aren't sufficient compensation to the musicians... and I bet the musicians barely see any of the money anyway.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 05:59 AM

.> For example, I sing "Willie of the Winsbury" to a tune I know from versions by Sweeney's Men and Anne Briggs. I know it's a Child ballad, but aren't the Child ballads just lyrics? Did Child compile tunes as well? <<

The tune to which W of W is generally sung IS in Child, but attached to a different ballad. Child included a relatively small number of tunes, and the majority of the ballads in his collection have none. Bronson came along later and found countless versions of Child Ballads that had been collected with tunes - although these were not necessarily the same versions that Child published (many having been collected after his death), and a significant number of the ballads in Child may never have been sung at all.

>> The tunes published in Bronson are copyright. <<

Not in the sense that you would have to seek permission or pay royalties to perform them. Many of them are in older, freely accessible, collections anyway.

>> if I were to fit a tune to one of, say, Percy's Reliques (which to my knowledge are also ballads with no tunes attached) then someone in theory ought to owe me a royalty if they covered it on an album? <<

When you register a new work with MCPS (assuming you are a member) you can specify the author (of the words), the composer (of the melody) and the arranger. Much of what I've registered has gone down as 'Trad. arr. Peters', and this gives me the right to a royalty on my own public performances and broadcasts of that arrangement. It doesn't stop someone else making a different arrangement and claiming royalties on their own performances of that one. However, when I've composed a new tune to a Child ballad, I've registered it as Traditional (Author) / B. Peters (composer). If someone else wants to record a cover version of that, then a royalty would be payable to me on the tune only.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: matt milton
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 06:15 AM

"when I've composed a new tune to a Child ballad, I've registered it as Traditional (Author) / B. Peters (composer). If someone else wants to record a cover version of that, then a royalty would be payable to me on the tune only"

thanks. that's exactly the sort of info I was hoping for (and what I was suspecting).


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 06:43 AM

Still wondering how the traditional ballad airs in Bronson can be subject to copyright restrictions. And what is copyright if not having to seek permission or pay royalties to perform them?


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 07:22 AM

>> Still wondering how the traditional ballad airs in Bronson can be subject to copyright restrictions. And what is copyright if not having to seek permission or pay royalties to perform them? <<

Perhaps it referred to making copies of pages from the book?


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 07:29 AM

The Kwikfit case actually happend in Scotland


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 07:38 AM

I can imagine that directly photocopying/scanning or making an identically-reproduced image of someone's published edition would be a no-no, but I've always been under the impression that all you have to do is write out your own copy of the material, and you're legally safe, no matter where you saw it. If I'm wrong about this, I wish someone would tell me!

So Kwikfit did get hauled into court for playing a trannie on their premises. Wonder how much that cost them?


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: pavane
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 07:46 AM

There are at least two different copyrights involved in a printed book of tunes.

1. The tunes themselves
2. The image of the pages

If the tunes were previously in the public domain, then you can use them, BUT you cannot make copies of the pages.

As for "folk songs" and "folk tunes" in general, it is VERY difficult to prove that the tune, words and arrangement YOU use are all in the public domain, especially if you learn the song from a current or recent performer. Copyright in the arrangement, at least, will have been claimed.

Also, the books by folk song collectors are usually under copyright, and the rights in the songs are sometimes retained by the singers from whom they were collected.

Lastly, copyright can be claimed on ANYTHING, (and has been, e.g. on Wild Mountain Thyme) no matter how old. If challenged, it is up to you to demonstrate that it is in the public domain. There are MANY songs which are often stated to be traditional, but which have been written only fairly recently.

Example: The song Danny Boy was written in 1911 (by an Englishman!) though the tune used was an old one.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 08:03 AM

But if the song or tune turns up in some old collection such as Playford/Gow/Kerr etc then surely the work's existence prior to the 70-year cutoff point can be proven. Which means you have to find a concrete example of it.

You're right - a lot of things that people think are ancient are actually modern compositions still subject to copyright restritions. She Moved Through The Fair (words at least) is a famous example.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: pavane
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 08:26 AM

Yes, old collections themselves may also be out of copyright.
But of course, modern editions won't be!

I had someone telling me in the 1970's that Ewan McColl's Freeborn Man was a trad Irish song - not too long after it was written!


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 08:31 AM

Hi Pavan (still taking those great photos?) - What I mean is, if you can point to a tune or song as being extant in an old source, it proves that it was around before the 1938-death-date and you are therefore free to sing it or make your own copy/arrangement.

I had someone tell me that my own song Billy Reilley was traditional!


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: pavane
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 08:49 AM

No new photos, I am afraid.
Yes, as long as you can show that, you should be OK.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: GUEST,MrMan
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 09:16 AM

It's a fact that the PRS have no legal identity. They are a group of musicians who have got together to try to recover monies from people, buisnesses or festivals when they perform or play material still in copyright.They are like a big club.

They, (PRS) as a group cannot (and never have) taken anyone to court. They have to gather evidence and present it to the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) It is they who decide if there is a case to answer, and the CPS who take you to court.

The onus is on the PRS to prove there has been a breech...

Questions have been asked in "The House" about the tactics of the PRS. See Column 917 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm081112/debtext/81112-0026.htm

Their idea was good... their tactics stink... They pay lip service to the music industry by giving a little back as grants..

Ask them for proof of their legal identity, and never give them information or send back paperwork they may ask for..

They get very threatening... But if you're in the right stick with it..


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: GUEST,MrMan
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 09:18 AM

Try his link:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm081112/debtext/81112-0026.htm


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 10:08 AM

The copyright in a "typographical arrangement" is shorter than the usual life +70.

The PRS exists as amatter of law. It is the Performing Right Society Ltd. English Company Number 00134396. It does indeed enforce by civil action the performing right (which is a subset of the rights comprised in copyright) of its members. You can check on the website of the MCPS/PRS Alliance.

There are some crimes that exist under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 as amended. Most of them are enforced by the local tradng standards officers as prosecuting authorities.

If people know nothing, it would be helpful if they did not muddy the waters: the innocent may be misled.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: Betsy
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 10:15 AM

Wait til the PRS turn up at a pub with the Police ( not the Sting one ) and then see how much power they have. They never have to take anyone to court - I think Sam Smiths might have if he thought he could win - but he didn't, and, I'm sure he / they have lots of the best legal advice.


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: GUEST,MrMan
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 10:30 AM

If you are not playing coyright material there's no problem.. some folk clubs and festivals only play traditional or self penned material.

I ask PRS how much it would be if only one copyrightable song was performed at a festival. They ask for 3% of total ticket sales!!!


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Subject: RE: copyright
From: mrwassail
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 11:22 PM

Human Beings can not copy right at all they can only copy wrong imperfect as we all are.

CB


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