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'Royalties' on songs one didn't write

Celtaddict 23 Mar 10 - 12:23 PM
GUEST 23 Mar 10 - 12:36 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 23 Mar 10 - 12:38 PM
RTim 23 Mar 10 - 12:39 PM
George Papavgeris 23 Mar 10 - 12:41 PM
George Papavgeris 23 Mar 10 - 12:45 PM
The Villan 23 Mar 10 - 12:47 PM
George Papavgeris 23 Mar 10 - 12:50 PM
The Villan 23 Mar 10 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,mg 23 Mar 10 - 01:18 PM
Richard Bridge 23 Mar 10 - 02:27 PM
olddude 23 Mar 10 - 02:37 PM
John P 23 Mar 10 - 03:02 PM
The Villan 23 Mar 10 - 03:26 PM
Charley Noble 23 Mar 10 - 04:53 PM
Celtaddict 23 Mar 10 - 04:56 PM
The Villan 23 Mar 10 - 05:11 PM
Celtaddict 23 Mar 10 - 05:20 PM
The Villan 23 Mar 10 - 05:25 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 23 Mar 10 - 05:35 PM
The Villan 23 Mar 10 - 05:36 PM
GUEST,Mouldy Bob 23 Mar 10 - 05:45 PM
Richard Bridge 23 Mar 10 - 05:48 PM
The Villan 23 Mar 10 - 05:55 PM
GUEST 23 Mar 10 - 06:07 PM
DebC 23 Mar 10 - 06:34 PM
Leadfingers 23 Mar 10 - 07:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Mar 10 - 08:44 PM
Leadfingers 23 Mar 10 - 08:50 PM
michaelr 23 Mar 10 - 09:01 PM
Anglo 23 Mar 10 - 10:35 PM
Celtaddict 23 Mar 10 - 10:39 PM
Celtaddict 23 Mar 10 - 10:53 PM
Leadfingers 23 Mar 10 - 10:57 PM
Celtaddict 23 Mar 10 - 11:00 PM
Celtaddict 23 Mar 10 - 11:18 PM
Marje 24 Mar 10 - 04:31 AM
Howard Jones 24 Mar 10 - 08:05 AM
Richard Bridge 24 Mar 10 - 09:03 AM
Charley Noble 24 Mar 10 - 09:27 AM
Nigel Parsons 24 Mar 10 - 09:47 AM
MMario 24 Mar 10 - 10:24 AM
Celtaddict 24 Mar 10 - 11:04 AM
Mr Happy 24 Mar 10 - 11:13 AM
Will Fly 24 Mar 10 - 12:14 PM
GUEST,Crowsis 24 Mar 10 - 12:37 PM
Marje 24 Mar 10 - 12:38 PM
MGM·Lion 24 Mar 10 - 12:56 PM
GUEST,CS 24 Mar 10 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,CS 24 Mar 10 - 01:04 PM
Howard Jones 24 Mar 10 - 01:23 PM
Celtaddict 24 Mar 10 - 05:10 PM
Charley Noble 24 Mar 10 - 10:22 PM
Geoff the Duck 25 Mar 10 - 04:55 AM
Big Mick 25 Mar 10 - 10:05 AM
Celtaddict 25 Mar 10 - 10:46 AM
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Subject: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Celtaddict
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 12:23 PM

It has come to my attention that the surviving family member of a prominent singer, now deceased, is asking other musicians not to sing songs or (strongly to the point) to pay to sing songs that were sung by the deceased, either solo or as one of a group, now all deceased. Royalties for songs one originates are due, of course; this is the inheritance a creative artist leaves. But it seems to me that even if an individual was arguably the most noted performer of a particular work, if the work is in the public domain or was created by someone else, royalties are not owed to the survivor of someone who used to perform it. (I am not talking about particular arrangements here, which is pretty hard to pursue; I am talking about any performance of a large number of songs of various origins.) I think if a survivor requested musicians to sing a particular song in someone's memory or not to sing a particular song in the survivor's presence, musicians in general would be sympathetic. I am pretty sure there is no legal basis for the claim, but what do other Mudcatters think of this? And how could this (in my opinion unreasonable) request be handled appropriately without stooping to an expensive and quite possibly ugly legal action?


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 12:36 PM

You're right, it has no legal basis. In fact, if pursued with any zeal, it can even be construed as a con-trick (though I am sure it is not meant as such) to get people to pay up. At the very least it is frustrating and non-productive and does the memory & reputation of the deceased no good.

The best way to deal with such requests is to respond politely that you intend to continue singing those songs and will pay for whatever legal licencing is required to the appropriate licencing authorities. The family of the deceased can then make their claim from such authorities, but not directly from you. Add that you do this in order to be "legal and above board", and with no malice or wish to be obstructive. You should then ignore any further such requests thereafter, leaving it to them to pursue any legal action.

If they become more aggressive after that, I would report them for harassment.

You can also name and shame, of course...


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 12:38 PM

"even if an individual was arguably the most noted performer of a particular work, if the work is in the public domain or was created by someone else, royalties are not owed to the survivor of someone who used to perform it."

Yes - I can't see any argument with that!


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: RTim
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 12:39 PM

I always believed that Copyright was "Time" bases, and not "Author" based -ie. the estate of a dead artist is still the beneficiary of the Copyright after that persons death, up to I think 50 years.
Cecil Sharp's estate still got royalties for his work way after he died, etc. and he only collected songs!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 12:41 PM

Sorry, the above GUEST was me - I retrieved my cookie now.

You should also mention that the songs are in the public domain, if we are talking traditional here; though you have every right to perform the songs even if their copyright holder is known.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 12:45 PM

RTim, a performer has no copyright of the works he/she performs, if they are not written by him/her, except perhaps for a particular arrangement he/she might have created.

The performer's rights are only linked to reproduction of his/her actual performances (i.e. playing them in public).


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: The Villan
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 12:47 PM

If a songwriter passes away, the next of kin can ask PRS to transfer those rights to them, so that they now own the rights to PRS, as if they were the songwriter.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 12:50 PM

Les, the title is clear - the reference is to the performance of songs not written by the deceased performer in question. As he/she was not the creator, the deceased held no copyright - only the right to his/her performances, if there are recordings of them.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: The Villan
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 12:52 PM

Ah Ok George. You know best. :-)

I hadn't realised so many posts had gone up onit before I posted.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 01:18 PM

I think it is nuts and hope no one gives in to this. It's like saying I breathed that air and you can't have it. If you put music out there it becomes part of the air and oral culture and electronic waves etc. Public domain once it leaves your mouth unless you wrote it and even then try not to be selfsh. mg


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 02:27 PM

Basically much of what is said above is correct (I am assuming we are talking about UK law, not US - US is a maverick in international copyright terms). A song combines two things, a literary work (the words) and a musical work (the melody). The first owner of each of those is the author (unless they are created in the course of employment in which case it is an employer) if the author is a "qualifying person" or if "first publication" take place in a "qualifying territory". A "qualifying person" is a citizen or subject or resident of a "qualifying territory". Almost everywhere is now a "qualifying territory", but prior to October 1957 the USA was not and there can be very very interesting issues about pre-1957 US works. Many were "simultaneously published" (which did create UK copyright) in the UK or Canada (a country that was party to a suitable convention) so did ahve UK copyright anyway, and almost all others will have come into UK copyright in 1988/9 when the USA joined the Berne Convention. NB the rules are different for films.

The owner of copyright may assign or license it in whole or in part, as to categories of acts, as to time, by geography, etc. This should be in writing but that is not an absolute rule.

Upon the death of the author, copyright subsists for a further 70 years and to 31 Dec (it used to be 50 and there are some interesting issues about revived copyrights). Existing assignments and licences will continue in effect subject to the proviso to sections 5(2) and 11(1) of the UK Copyright Act 1911.

Upon the death of the owner (or licensee) the relevant right will pass under their will or intestacy - via their "estate" which is administered by their executors or administrators - (subject as aforesaid). The estate is not a legal entity in its own right. If a company is the Owner or Licensee and is liquidated then unless the terms of the assignments or licences terminate the rights they may be sold by the liquidator. If they are not then when the company cases to exist and is struck off the register (for any reason) then the rights become "bona vacantia" (rights without an owner) and vest in teh proper authority, usually the Crown of the Duchy of Cornwall or the County Palatine of Lancaster) and will then be administered by the Official Receiver (the department of bona vacantia). US law differs and a company's rights vest per stirpes in the shareholders. There are different views about what rules apply if a US company ceases to exist owning a UK copyright or vice versa - do UK or US rules apply?

A licensing body (MCPS or PRS) will only administer rights if the rights owner/licensee is a member and will have rules that I do not know for when a member dies (or if a company ceases to exist).

If a rights owner is NOT a member of the MCPS or PRS then he administers the right not the MCPS or PRS.

And now the twist:

There can also be a copyright in an arrangement or adaptation of a work and a well-known performer of it MIGHT have been the owner of such a right. If he registered the work or that form of it with MCPS/PRS as "trad/arr" then he will get 100% of PRS or MCPS collections from the work - and if it was say "Named Composer/Arr Performer" then there should have been an agreement that specified the split.

I hope that helps.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: olddude
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 02:37 PM

the only way you would need to pay would be if you used their recording in karaoke or dubbed their playing into your recording. BMI collects for the writer. if it is trad, you owe nothing on the song


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: John P
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 03:02 PM

I'd always thought that performers don't have to pay royalties, that it is the responsibility of the venue.

Someone needs to give this family a lesson on the nature of creativity and folk music, not to mention the legality of the situation.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: The Villan
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 03:26 PM

We as a venue pay royalties, but on a global basis, that doesn't require us to return lists to PRS. Therefore the responsibilty lies with the performer to feed back their list of songs performed.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 04:53 PM

Certainly it is well established that a composer's heirs can retain the copyright of any music he or she composed. However, I've never heard of the case of copyright in which the music in question was merely performed rather than composed, unless the music were adapted in some special way.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Celtaddict
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 04:56 PM

RTim, if a collector finds and publishes a song not previously published, he is entitled to royalties on his own published work. That is another area, and while it seems fair the collector should receive payment for his work, it also seems somewhat unfair that the singer/preserver of a 'traditional' (in the sense that the originator is no longer known) does not. And of course there have been many musician/collectors who have taken previously uncopyrighted material and copyrighted it themselves, sometimes as they found it and sometimes with their own variations.

This current concern is no such issue. It involves a large number of songs, of both traditional and contemporary origin, and a surviving family member's claim that the deceased 'owns' all the songs sung over a long career! I know there is no legal basis for this, but unfortunately the survivor has managed to buffalo a number of musicians into accepting this wrong premise; I think the musicians are attempting to honor the memory of the deceased by respecting the expressed 'wish' of the survivor, but I disagree with the idea. To me, not speaking about or singing songs learned from a performer no longer with us not only benefits no one but seems to diminish the respect to the deceased performer. How much stronger a legacy it would be to have the songs one made familiar widely sung in memory, coupled where possible with tales of the singer! Since a legal challenge to try to collect money from people performing songs not copyrighted by the artist would fail at once, it seems shortsighted of the survivor to fight these songs being performed and can even make the musicians who freely admit they owe a good deal to the performer appear less respectful if they no longer speak of the performer or perform songs learned from and popularized by that source.

John P: I agree absolutely but am at a loss how best to proceed with such a lesson. Some of the other musicians involved are highly respected in their own rights, too.

Sorry about the circumlocutions; I am trying not to 'name and shame' though it is somewhat tempting.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: The Villan
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 05:11 PM

Celtaddict
Please don't fall for the name and shame bit. That really isn't acceptable on an open forum such as this.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Celtaddict
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 05:20 PM

That is exactly my point. I will not do it, and that results in awkward wording sometimes, as I am trying not even to use 'he/she' in descriptions.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: The Villan
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 05:25 PM

Good on yer :-)


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 05:35 PM

Why not - the behaviour is shameful.

No-one can lay any personal claim to traditiomnal songs! Not singers of them, and even less so family members of those who may have once sung them.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: The Villan
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 05:36 PM

Posting that sort of thing on a public forum is also shamefull Crow Sister.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: GUEST,Mouldy Bob
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 05:45 PM

No it's not. It's another point of view. A debate. It's certainly not shameful. I'd be as well saying your stifling of debate is shameful.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 05:48 PM

Celtaddict, is it UK or US law under consideration?


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: The Villan
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 05:55 PM

Mouldy Bob, if anybody has a problem with an artist or whoever, surely it is the right and correct thing to talk with them.
Revealing their names on here is not good etiquette.

However help on how to solve the issue is. Are you able to do that?


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 06:07 PM

Unless you are copying the arrangement almost note for note then there is no legal basis for a claim under the circumstances as set out above.

In theory if the original was unaccompanied and that was how you sang it then it could be argued that you are using their "arrangement" but the likelihood is that this not sustainable if the source singer also sang it unaccompanied as the source "arrangement" would predate their claim.

Steve


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: DebC
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 06:34 PM

Unless it's a different Celtaddict, Celtaddict is in the US, thus this is about US law.

As legal issue discussions appear here quite a lot, it would be helpful if folks stated what country the issue pertains to.

Deb Cowan


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 07:11 PM

SO I would be able to claim 'Royalties' from another singer at my club because they have started singing a song I introduced to the club ? I can just see that happening !


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 08:44 PM

"Revealing their names on here is not good etiquette."

So far as the "prominent singer, now deceased" is concerned The Villan's suggestion "talk with them" doesn't really seem too practical in the circumstances.

So who is the "prominent singer, now deceased" in question?


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 08:50 PM

Kevin - I dare to assume Les meant talk to 'The Family' ! Still a bit Bloody cheeky , to say the least


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: michaelr
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 09:01 PM

It's ridiculous to start a thread complaining about someone and not name the person.

If you don't want us to know who you're talking about, then don't talk.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Anglo
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 10:35 PM

I can see that you would be uncomfortable naming the performer - but how about naming a few of the songs, traditional or contemporary?


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Celtaddict
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 10:39 PM

Michaelr, my point was not to 'complain about someone' but to describe a situation and ask for suggestions on dealing with it.

DebC, hi, yes it's me and I agree that when legal issues are raised the location is important, but I did not spell out the set(s) of law involved in part in the interest of maintaining anonymity of the persons involved but mainly because I am not so much concerned with the legal aspect (which I think it is plain is not an issue; there seems no legal leg to stand on) as with appropriate ways of dealing with the situation.

To me, a reasonable approach might be to 'bow' to the original performer as most traditional musicians I know do quite regularly, by saying for example "I learned this from the singing of the great ___" or "This song was written by ___ and many people have heard it as sung by ___" or "This song is from the ___ area and brought to current audiences by ___" but not to sing them or to even consider that one must pay to sing them to my mind does not do justice to song, famous singer, or current singer.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Celtaddict
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 10:53 PM

And on a slightly flippant note, Leadfingers, I often give songs or CDs (or tapes, going back) to singers I think would like them; many of those singers go on to perform those songs. So as a 'carrier' shouldn't I be rich by now?


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 10:57 PM

Crediting your source is always a good thing , whatever the material
wether Copywrite OR Public Domain , but DONT be a clone - Do it YOUR way . And it doesnt matter what silly claims are made as long as LEGAL royalties are covered .


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Celtaddict
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 11:00 PM

Leadfingers: hear hear!


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Celtaddict
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 11:18 PM

George: Do you mean 'name and shame' not here but in the sense of responding to (common) requests for these songs by saying, 'So-and-so does not want that song sung' at performance? I am not crazy about that idea but suppose it might be useful as something of a last resort (short of legal action) if the survivor persists.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Marje
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 04:31 AM

I don't really see how the person making this this (unreasonable) demand for payment can expect it be effective unless the deceased singer and the songs are named. Otherwise, most singers will presumably remain unaware of the request and carry on singing the songs they enjoy, even if - perhaps especially if - they have a particular fondness for a version that used to be sung by the now-dead singer. In fact, I can't think of a nicer way for a singer to be remembered than this.

In any case, it makes no sense at all to me to suggest that any payment is due, and if it were in the UK I'd say the appropriate response is a polite but firm refusal to pay. Even in the US, I can't imagine that there's any legal obligation to pay to perform a song that is neither composed nor arranged by the person demanding payment (or their heirs/estate).

Marje


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Howard Jones
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 08:05 AM

How can any singer, no matter how prominent, have any legal or moral claim in a song they did not write themselves, whether it's traditional or by another songwriter? They may have copyright in their own arrangement, but other than that even they can only perform it with the permission of the copyright owner (which is usually granted via the appropriate copyright body - PRS in the UK). Only the copyright holder has the right to exercise any control over it.

Tell them where to stick it - politely at first!

As for legal action, it is up to the family to commence legal proceedings if they feel they have rights which have been infringed. It's hard to see on what basis they could do this.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 09:03 AM

I am uneasy how many UKers are apparently confident of the relevant US law. I am usually cautious on US copyright law and I did once read Nimmer (the principal US copyright textbook) from end-to-end (all 4 volumes) and an obsolete edition of my friend Tom Selz's 4 volume textbook on Entertainment law is just above my head on my bookshelf.

I am by no means clear that an arrangement has to be copied note for note for there to be an infringment of an arrangement, and both in the UK and the US members of bands have succeeded in claims to be joint authors of a work on the bases of short sections of notes and on drum patterns.

More relevantly, the US has a much wider law than the UK relating to words and phrases acquiring a secondary meaning that (imprecisely and in shorthand) amounts to a common law trade mark, which is the basis of current US assertions of rights in Sherlock Holmes although the literary works are now long out of copyright, and it is not inconceivable that a similar assertion could be made under US law for a phrase in or presentation of a song if it became part of the reputation of the performer - compare the Johnny Carson "Here's Johnny" case in which Carson successfully objected to his catchphrase (which was not a relevant registered trade mark) being used as a slogan for portable lavatories. On the other hand "the Salamander" lost all his cases and so did a cowboy character whose fictitious identity escapes me at the moment!


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 09:27 AM

Celtadict-

Just hang in there. Name no names, and leave sleeping lions lie or whatever!

I would be very surprised if the family family would pursue legal action to enforce such a tenuous case of copyright infringement.

At the same time, I would urge anyone who sings or records a song from this "inventory" to credit the person who introduced them to the song. That is being gracious.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 09:47 AM

At the same time, I would urge anyone who sings or records a song from this "inventory" to credit the person who introduced them to the song. That is being gracious.

I'm all for being 'gracious', but if several people start following this route it could become 'accepted preactice' with people expecting everyone to follow it. Possibly a very thin end of a very thick wedge.

I'm not in favour of acting graciously to persons trying to claim something to which they may not have any right.

Cheers
Nigel (Wales,UK so ignorant of US law)


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: MMario
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 10:24 AM

Reminds me of a rainy day at a ren-faire when I sang a song I had learned from the composer (and had permission to sing) and was approached after by another person who informed me it was her "signature song" and to please not sing it without giving her credit.

In further conversation it turned out she had learned it from a bootleg tape....didn't know the composer, hadn't contacted him for permission to use the song, in fact din't even the composer's NAME (either real or the one he performed under) thus didn't ever credit the song in any way when SHE performed it...

But she wanted me to give her credit.....


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Celtaddict
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 11:04 AM

MMario: you are right, that is a similarly ridiculous request!

My concern is not the legality of the claim (which is nil) but the survivor demanding a 'promise' from other musicians that they will not sing 'his/her' songs! (Marje: this direct demand is the way it becomes an issue.) I don't even have to deal with the survivor directly, but it makes a difference when trying to put on a concert or event with the musicians who feel obligated to make such a promise; I am not sure how best to deal with them, other than to hope that with time they will come to their senses.

Charley: I love 'let sleeping lions lie' and know this idea was not the wish of the original musician, who may be spinning briskly just now.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 11:13 AM

............isn't it the purpose of PRS to collect monies on songs the recipients haven't written?


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 12:14 PM

Royalties on songs one didn't write

What an excellent idea. Now I'm a pensioner, I think I'll copyright a few traditional tunes... Now - where's me little black book...?

Ah - here it is... Now, Let's see... [Pauses for a few minutes]

Right. I've just copyrighted:

"Paddy Carey", "Staten Island", "Flowers Of Edinburgh", "Jacky Tar", "Drops Of Brandy" and "I'll Go And Enlist"

That should bring in a few extra bob. Anyone playing these tunes in the future should send £1 per tune to:

Will Fly
Cloud-Cuckoo Land
Sussex

I thank you.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: GUEST,Crowsis
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 12:37 PM

Well I bagsy Fields of Athenry, Molly Malone and Dirty Old Town! what's more I want a fiver anytime anyone sings them, no coins please. That should set me up nicely for my old age..
Oops that was me wivout cookie, I still claim a rightful first bagsy on them songs tho'!


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Marje
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 12:38 PM

I see what you mean now, Celtaddict - you're not worried about the legal issue, but the moral force of the "demand" that's being made. But it's just as ridiculous to demand a ban on certain songs (or payment for infringement of that ban), certainly if the songs and arrangements are not even claimed as being copyrighted to the individual/group in question.

Richard, I know that US and UK law may not be the same, but it seems as if there isn't even an attempt at a legal claim here. In any case, Celtaddict says that it's not even being alleged that either the songs or the arrangements are the property of the person/group whose representatives are making the demand.

It's quite bizarre, and totally out of step with most of what goes on in folk music. Most singers and groups in the UK (and I'm sure most in the US too) are flattered if their performance of a song (by someone else) inspires someone else to want to sing it. Just think what would happen if every time a prominent folk figure died, all the songs they sang were dropped from everyone else's repertoires? It wouldn't be long before our heritage was sadly depleted.

I hope, Celtaddict, that the musicians and singers you work with will ignore any "demands" for payment or for silence, and prefer to see it as a fitting tribute to the singing of X to continue to sing the songs that s/he performed or helped to make popular. I suppose an alternative tactic would be to seek out alternative versions of the songs (ideally, earlier ones), and credit those artists instead when you perform the songs in question.

Marje


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 12:56 PM

GUEST Crowsis, I think the estate of the late Ewan MacColl might have something to say if you try to muscle in on Dirty Old Town: good luck with the others, tho.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 01:03 PM

"I think the estate of the late Ewan MacColl might have something to say if you try to muscle in on Dirty Old Town:"

What a bleeding cheek. I'll have you know that I sang Dirty Old Town once along to Ewan's record!


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 01:04 PM

Anyhow I bagsied!


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Howard Jones
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 01:23 PM

Richard, I don't claim to be an expert in copyright law, especially US law. If other performers are copying the late musician's arrangement, even slightly, then they may have grounds to claim a royalty. But the suggestion seems to be that no one else should sing the songs, in any arrangement. I cannot conceive that any jurisdiction would enforce that, where the musician was neither the composer nor the arranger but had simply popularised the song.

It seems to me to be very arrogant to lay claim like this to someone else's song. I wonder what the musician him/herself would have thought of it. And I wonder what the actual copyright holder thinks.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Celtaddict
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 05:10 PM

I have spoken with some of the writers, who think it ridiculous, and several of the musicians who seem a bit divided on whether or for how long to go along with what I agree is a bizarre demand.
My personal suspicion is that the (deceased) singer would be laughing uproariously at the very idea, and a bit appalled behind it, but I am unable to ask...


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 10:22 PM

Marje-

Well said (if anyone can scroll up and read your post!).

Celtaddict-

Well, maybe you do have a duty to open a channel to the deceased singer and at least ask his opinion. You may be surprised at his response.

But is one supposed to transcribe a pentagon before opening the channel? That might be important, and is one supposed to be inside or outside said pentagon?

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 04:55 AM

Ignore the Pentagon - go straight to the White House?

Quack!¬
GtD.


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 10:05 AM

First off, I suggest folks all read Richard Bridge's posts carefully. As best as I can tell, his are the only ones informed by law, given that is his profession. I note that he clearly states the case in the UK, and where his knowledge is limited, he says so. Makes for facts instead of feelings, folks.

As to a singer, or their family, asking that one not do that performers "signature songs" even when that singer wasn't the author, I suggest that one ignore that request. I have actually had folks ask me not to do that, and dismissed the request out of hand. Once a song is in the air, it can be performed. I have every right to interpret it the way it makes sense to me, as long as I don't alter the original work's intent.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write
From: Celtaddict
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 10:46 AM

Mick, as ever you are a man of sense. I expect, and it has been discussed on other threads, that many people are sensitive to other people's 'signature' songs when that person is present, as a matter of graciousness, but agree there is no reason not to perform them in general. And of course claiming all of X's songs were 'signature' songs is silly.
I am still hoping for other suggestions for dealing with the musicians from whom the family member extracted some sort of 'promise' not to sing them and not to do 'tribute' material (very weird, to my mind). I suspect time is on our side.


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