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No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack

Max 14 Oct 99 - 04:05 PM
Uilleand 14 Oct 99 - 03:55 PM
Llanfair 14 Oct 99 - 03:46 PM
katlaughing 14 Oct 99 - 03:40 PM
Max 14 Oct 99 - 03:38 PM
Lonesome EJ 14 Oct 99 - 03:33 PM
Uilleand 14 Oct 99 - 03:32 PM
MMario 14 Oct 99 - 03:30 PM
Bert 14 Oct 99 - 03:29 PM
Cara 14 Oct 99 - 03:22 PM
katlaughing 14 Oct 99 - 03:16 PM
Uilleand 14 Oct 99 - 03:08 PM
emily rain 14 Oct 99 - 02:56 PM
Max 14 Oct 99 - 02:47 PM
Big Mick 14 Oct 99 - 02:47 PM
T in Oklahoma 14 Oct 99 - 02:39 PM
Bruce O. 14 Oct 99 - 02:38 PM
Uilleand 14 Oct 99 - 02:35 PM
kendall 14 Oct 99 - 02:34 PM
MMario 14 Oct 99 - 02:29 PM
j0_77 14 Oct 99 - 02:28 PM
KathWestra 14 Oct 99 - 02:18 PM
Max 14 Oct 99 - 02:09 PM
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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Max
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 04:05 PM

Uilleand, we are incorporated as a non-profit in PA as "Mudcat Cafe Music Foundation". Our date of incorporation was June 25, 1997.

Llanfair, the best way for folks overseas is to use their credit card online here. Otherwise the mailing and bank fees hardly make it worth it for any of us. I got a check from Australia once, and it cost me as much to deposit it as it was for. You can do it online with a Visa or Mastercard here. If you can't do that, maybe someone knows a better way?


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Uilleand
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 03:55 PM

I've been checking on the NFP thing. From files of another NFP it looks like we would need to file an application for exemption with the U.S. Treasury Department - Internal Revenue Service. The mudcat would most likely have to incorporate. Regular filing would have to include financial statements. The application is self-explanatory in most areas and would not require legal advice. Operation of the organization must be at least 12 month to sufficiently document the process and purpose of the organization. If NFP status is granted, the mudcat would receive a letter of determination it can then use to solicit tax-exempt contributions. I don't know about your local state laws or internet commerce rules, but I think a local application is necessary as well to solicit tax exempt contributions. Will continue to research this!


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Llanfair
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 03:46 PM

Max..... What is the best way to get money to you from the UK. I can write a cheque in pounds, can it be changed over there easily?
i really think that the letter is from someone trying it on, it is far to vague and non-specific to be on behalf of a copywrighted artiste.
I don't suppose our friend who channels water from church roofs knows anything about it? Hwyl, Bron.


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: katlaughing
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 03:40 PM

Max,

Here are a couple of links for you.

1) Free Legal Advice for PA residents>, looks like a good and reasonable site; you post a question, they answer it and if more lengthy phone conversation is needed, there is still no charge.

2) PA Law on line, again, looks like a good site, lots of statutes etc. on line, with forms etc. I didn't see anything specifically about non-profit, but I am sure wiht some exploring it would point you in the right direction, as it had many links, also.

I hope this helps. Let us know what else we can do, esp. if it's hunting up more info, etc.

kat


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Max
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 03:38 PM

The non-profit thing is really an application for tax exempption, which is called 501(c)3. This makes us like a religion, charity or university. It will allow us to apply for academic grants and such, and any contribution you would make to the Mudcat would be a writeoff. A small percentage of all sales through the Mudcat would also be a writeoff.

Will it protect us from crap like this? Not really... well indirectly at best. Who would want to sue a charity? (don't answer that) It pretty much just validates our status as a good cause. Though, when I worked at Penn State, I could only photocopy so many pages for distribution to the students, so even academically it is an issue.

I am not an expert at these things, and could use any help I can get. I do know that in the long run tax exemption will save us a lot of money.


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 03:33 PM

Emily, I think Legal Eagle is a British Attorney and so this is out of his jurisdiction. T in OK, sounds like you are a lawyer? If so, can you help?


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Uilleand
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 03:32 PM

Katlaughing, I don't think going nfp will help much with lawsuit happy people, but it will help raise money. People and corporations, etc. are more likely to give if they can get a tax write off. It will also help in buying supplies, etc. without paying sales tax, if there is a local tax-exempt registration.


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: MMario
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 03:30 PM

just being non-profit would NOT deal with the copyright issue. It WOULD probably HELP (public opinion wise) in any litigation, but ... ... ...{isn't it amazing the trivia you pick up in day to day life???)

However, again, if they don't produce specifics, How can Max (or anyone) be expected to cease and desist?


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Bert
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 03:29 PM

And guys, don't forget, even if you have no spare cash, take a look in your attics and closets and see if you have anything to include in the auction. It doesn't have to be music or folk related and you don't have to give 100% to Mudcat. You can choose your own percentage.

Thanks,

Bert.


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Cara
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 03:22 PM

Let me know if there's any legwork, paperwork etc that the poor among us can do.

Thanks for keeping us posted. We're behind you guys 110%.


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: katlaughing
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 03:16 PM

Sounds like all good ideas and advice to me. I will check with a couple of people I know who have been in arts non-profit for years and see what they have to say. When we were going to go non-profit in CT, I had all of the papers and was going to do it myself, didn't seem that complicated at the time, which was a while ago.

Payday is Monday. Can I just call you and give you a debit card number to put a donation amt. through or is a check better?

Also, would actually going non-profit stop this kind of harassement? If not, what would?

Hang in there; we are all with you.

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Uilleand
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 03:08 PM

Anyone here on the mudcat a lawyer, who can do pro bono work for the not-for-profit licensing? Seems to be just more paperwork rather than true legal advice. I'm willing to do some paper work regarding filing information and can certainly take a stab at trying to raise money for registration fees, which shouldn't be anywhere near the cost of legal fees.


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: emily rain
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:56 PM

where's our buddy legal eagle?

my donation will be in the mail.


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Max
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:47 PM

T in Ok: I know the BMI and ASCAP don't cover the lyrics, but with the radio show and other new things planned, I don't want the heat.

Uilleand: Good question, its all just legal fees and filing fees. I tried to barter with a law firm to do their Web site in return, but that fell through. I'm still willing to do it though. Point is, even if it were only $500 that's more than we have. I have a lawyer checking on it, but I have to be careful with even asking questions, cause they want to charge you for everything.

My thoughts on the letter are to state just 3 things. One that we are non-profit etc, 2 that we have the BMI and personal permissions, and 3 request specifics.


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Big Mick
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:47 PM

Max,
I am in.
Mick


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: T in Oklahoma
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:39 PM

Max,

So far as I know, the ASCAP and BMI licenses would only cover performance of the music, not reprinting the lyrics. I think the lyrics require separate permission. So I hope you have the authors' permissions in writing. If you don't, maybe you should get back in touch with the authors that previously e-mailed or phoned their permission and ask them to send a backup FAX. I think documentation will help a lot.

Some of the occasional posting of ©-ed lyrics to this forum should (if the world were reasonable) come under the heading of fair use. But maybe you should check with a lawyer. You might have to rummage through the forum archives and delete some postings of copyrighted lyrics after a while.

Check the return address on the letter and make sure it corresponds to an actual address of the NMPA, or of a licensed law practice actually employed by the NMPA. If the two don't match, the letter may be a hoax or a scam.

Of course, this is all private opinion. It is not legal advice and doesn't establish a lawyer-client relationship, etc.

I hope you can get it all worked out.

T.


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Bruce O.
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:38 PM

I agree with MMario. Their accusation is too vague. Make them spell it out item by item. They might give it up rather than do the work involved, which would put to considerable expense in wages. The letter does not seem to be from their lawyers, and might just be a bluff to get you to cough up some money. There are surely Mudcatters that are lawyers, how about a bit of free advice here?


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Uilleand
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:35 PM

Max, how much would it cost to get tax-exempt status? Just curious. In any event count me in for a contribution.


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: kendall
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:34 PM

this sounds like a scam of some kind like those creeps who steal passwords from chat participants. In any case, you can count on me for a contribution. It will be in the mail tomorrow, and thats no shit!!


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: MMario
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:29 PM

Max - My first thought would be to request specifics. What claims have been made, what are the titles of the songs and who are the authors? Then remove them from public access, if necessary. If they cannot provide specifics; and you have asked for them, then they wouldn't have a leg to stand on


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: j0_77
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:28 PM

Re Mr Sanders Letter, hmmmmm wait an see - don't they have to prove someone got a song/lyric off the site for money or made money with it?


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Subject: RE: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: KathWestra
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:18 PM

Max --
Definitely count me in for a contribution -- and let us all know what else we can do to help (besides telepathic hugs and moral support).
Have you been able to find anything out about this group from an outside source? It might be useful to fish around to see how powerful, reputable, etc. they're perceived as by others in the music industry.
Kath


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Subject: No Joke: Mudcat Under Attack
From: Max
Date: 14 Oct 99 - 02:09 PM

Here is a letter dick and I received last week verbatim.

October 4, 1999

Via Certified Mail
Max Spiegel
The Digital Tradition
28 Powell Street
Greenwich, CT 06831

Re: "The Mudcat Café"/www.mudcat.org

Dear Mr. Spiegel:

As you may be aware, the National Music Publishers Association, Inc. (NMPA) is a national association of over 700 American music publishers.

It has come to our attention that you have participated in, caused or authorized, via the above referenced website, the reproduction, distribution and transmission of lyrics of copyrighted musical compositions owned or controlled by our publisher members. As far as we are aware, no authority for such activities has been obtained from our members who own the copyrights in the musical compositions involved.

Accordingly, on behalf of our members, we demand that you immediately cease and desist from all such infringing activity. We further demand that within ten days of the date of this letter, you confirm that you have complied with the foregoing demand and provide us with your proposal for amicably resolving our members' claims against you.

If we have not received a timely response to the foregoing demands, we will advise our members, and legal action for willful copyright infringement may be brought against you.

This letter is written without prejudice to all of our members' rights and remedies at law or in equity, which are hereby reserved on their behalf.

Sincerely

Charles J. Sanders


So, I am composing a response today. I will share that once off too. Our thoughts so far is that this letter is very general, it lists no specifics. Also, we do have a BMI license and permission from hundreds of musicians, which may help us some. I am now wanting an ASCAP license too, which I think we can get for $250. If you've been putting off a contribution to the Mudcat, please do it now, and the next $250 I get will get the ASCAP license.

Also, by reading the NMPA Web site, it sounds as if they are going into business (getting commercial). It seems they are leveraging their members songs and info to do essentially what we are, but commercially. That may be the motivation of the letter at this time. They may view us as competition and are using legalese to scare us or crush us. Whatever.

It was also interesting to me that there were about 5 typos and grammatical errors in their document. Very unprofessional. Anyhow, that's that. Just wanted to share it with you for your opinions as well as to let you know this is what dick and I deal with a couple times a year. Wish us luck.


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