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a moral dilemma

Andy7 19 Dec 17 - 09:21 PM
Stanron 19 Dec 17 - 09:45 PM
BobL 20 Dec 17 - 03:21 AM
Roger the Skiffler 20 Dec 17 - 03:45 AM
Nigel Parsons 20 Dec 17 - 04:07 AM
Mr Red 20 Dec 17 - 04:11 AM
Vic Smith 20 Dec 17 - 06:33 AM
GUEST,Interested Party 20 Dec 17 - 07:09 AM
Jackaroodave 20 Dec 17 - 08:42 AM
Howard Jones 20 Dec 17 - 09:26 AM
Donuel 20 Dec 17 - 09:38 AM
GUEST,Sol 20 Dec 17 - 09:42 AM
FreddyHeadey 20 Dec 17 - 09:55 AM
Jackaroodave 20 Dec 17 - 10:09 AM
Mysha 20 Dec 17 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,Ray 20 Dec 17 - 10:51 AM
punkfolkrocker 20 Dec 17 - 11:22 AM
Manitas_at_home 20 Dec 17 - 11:31 AM
The Sandman 20 Dec 17 - 01:06 PM
The Sandman 20 Dec 17 - 01:09 PM
Vic Smith 20 Dec 17 - 01:26 PM
Jackaroodave 20 Dec 17 - 01:58 PM
Mr Red 20 Dec 17 - 03:18 PM
Jackaroodave 20 Dec 17 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,Rigby 20 Dec 17 - 04:35 PM
The Sandman 20 Dec 17 - 04:56 PM
punkfolkrocker 20 Dec 17 - 05:44 PM
meself 20 Dec 17 - 10:34 PM
GUEST,Morris-ey 22 Dec 17 - 12:58 PM
GUEST,Andy7 22 Dec 17 - 05:29 PM
fat B****rd 22 Dec 17 - 05:40 PM
meself 22 Dec 17 - 06:21 PM
Jackaroodave 22 Dec 17 - 07:18 PM
meself 22 Dec 17 - 08:08 PM
Jackaroodave 22 Dec 17 - 08:46 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Dec 17 - 09:02 PM
Vic Smith 23 Dec 17 - 06:33 AM
GUEST 23 Dec 17 - 06:37 AM
kendall 23 Dec 17 - 08:11 AM
Thompson 23 Dec 17 - 08:36 AM
Thompson 23 Dec 17 - 08:36 AM
Mysha 23 Dec 17 - 09:07 AM
Jackaroodave 23 Dec 17 - 10:01 AM
Andy7 23 Dec 17 - 12:12 PM
meself 23 Dec 17 - 03:03 PM
Mysha 23 Dec 17 - 08:16 PM
Andy7 24 Dec 17 - 04:44 AM
Jackaroodave 24 Dec 17 - 08:13 AM
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Subject: a musical moral dilemma
From: Andy7
Date: 19 Dec 17 - 09:21 PM

Here's a musical moral dilemma. Just for fun - it wouldn't ever happen in real life!

Imagine that you've composed an amazing song. Almost everyone you play it to loves it. And so you decide to video yourself singing the song, and post it on the internet. It's rather an amateurish performance; although decent enough, you've never been an especially talented singer or guitarist. A few friends 'like' your video, and that's an end of it. Or so you think!

BUT ... one day, you get a call from the agent of an internationally famous pop singer - let's call this famous singer John Smith.

Well, John absolutely LOVES your song, and wants to record it himself, to release as a single, and also as the title track of his new album. He won't record it in the acoustic style that you prefer - but he's a very good singer and performer, and you know that he'll do the song justice in his own distinctive style, and that it will become well loved.

But, there's a catch (of course) ... John Smith also wants to be recognised as the WRITER of your song!

So, here's the deal. You'll get a £25,000 upfront payment, plus 50% of all songwriter royalties for that song, in perpetuity. In exchange, you must sign a contract acknowledging John Smith as the sole composer of the song. And also, if you ever sing 'your' song in public again, you'll have to acknowledge John Smith as its composer.

What would you do?


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Stanron
Date: 19 Dec 17 - 09:45 PM

I'd take the money. I've had one song that had some success. I got one cheque for 1% of the OP's figure. Gimme the money. I can write more songs.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: BobL
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 03:21 AM

There are two separate issues here, which don't have to be linked.
   1. JS performing your song (which is fine)
   2. False attribution of authorship (which isn't)

The question is, what difference will it make? JS gets kudos that should be yours: if your words are at all controversial he will get the flak: possible problems if he wants a follow-up: and confusion if (from your video) you are already known as the author. In a century or two it might even be a Mudcat topic!


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 03:45 AM

Didn't Colonel Parker add Elvis' name to songs as co-writer for financial reasons? I know a writer of show-biz " autobiographies" whose name doesn't appear any where in the books. Do you want the money or the recognition? If successful the song might have brought you money as registered writer. Is co-writer an acceptable compromise? It is difficult to advise.
RtS
(who suspects George Martin had more than a hand in many Lennon/McCartney songs)


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 04:07 AM

Accept the payment and allow him to claim authorship.
But retain the paperwork in case he ever goes back on the deal.
The fact that you have a contract paying you 50% of the royalties will make it clear (if ever needed)that he was not the sole author.

Continue performing the song. You don't have to actually acknowledge John Smith as the composer. Do you usually? Or do you just say "This is a John Smith song", without saying whether it's one he wrote, or just one which is normally associated with his singing of it?


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Mr Red
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 04:11 AM

potential things to consider:

1) Youtube will be asked to remove the video on copyright grounds. You are contractually bound not to re-submit it. A friend might get away with it.
2) How can you be sure the 50% royalties you receive are accurate?
3) total ownership and performing rights were owned by the person who made a song famous in the early days of records and UK Music Hall (Burlesque).
3) In the days of Stephen Collins Foster the method of establishing copyright was to patent. Indeed he had to remonstrate with a fellow minstrel who had got to the patent office before him and registered his song!
4) Do you want the money or the limited kudos? As Jimmy Webb says when asked about they way singers treated his song "I never complained about the cheques" (checks). But then he always got the credit.
5) do you need the money (or the ego)? A different issue IMNSHO.
6) Paul McCartney's song company bought thousands of songs at one point, which in the UK gave him a 50% share in copyrighted songs in the UK (at one stage). This then gave him access to revenue from all unattributed songs from PRS. There were some disgruntled wrongciters who voiced their annoyance that the songs were not performed, not knowing who the company was.
7) is your song in the DT? where JS probably never wanders.
8) Is there anything to stop you claiming "Copyrighted by JS, but after Me". without enlarging on the full audit trail. And he can't copyright a wink. after as in the artwork usage.

One of my songs is fully documented as co-written by three of us. But I am the one who sings it and put it on my website. So the myth is I wrote the song in the eyes of the consumer.
And curiously my co-writer (there was a Knitting expert involved) laid claim to a line that I know was a joint effort, and he was surprised when I pointed-out it had four twists of meaning. He is what a Mudcatter once described as an over-compensating introvert. I can be relaxed about it because I get the kudos when I sing it. And the writing process was a hoot!


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 06:33 AM

Exactly the scenario laid out in the OP happened to a friend of mine, the Brighton singer/somgwriter, Miles Wootton. He was told that a leading singer wanted to record one of his songs, but that the song would have to be copyrighted as a joint composition by himself and the person that wanted to record it. I was horrified and advised him to tell the person who wanted to record it to get stuffed! Miles, on the other hand, said that he preferred 50% of something to 100% of nothing.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: GUEST,Interested Party
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 07:09 AM

This doesn't sound like John Smith. I have met him and he does not at all come across as that type of rogue.

John Smith 




http://johnsmithjohnsmith.com/


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 08:42 AM

Rock DJ and empresario Alan Freed used to claim songwriting credit as a form of payola. Mobbed-up thug Morris Levy, head of Roulette records, used to assign song-writing credit to his son in return for producing a record in the first place. He also bought up rights to, for example, Chuck Berry's songs for, well, a song.

It seems to come down to power: How badly does Smith want the song, and how willing would he be to negotiate some compromise? How likely would it be to find another well-known artist to put the song out there without demanding song-writing credit? If the song is that desirable, Smith would not be the only one who'd desire it, so it would be worth aggressively exploring other markets and alternatives to a take-it-or-leave-it resolution.

Did Smith or his agent show up with a satchel full of cash which he spilled out on the negotiating table? The unpublished artist understandably sees any chance as the only one, but if the first offer is a stack of money and royalties without song-writing credit, it seems like a better deal-or the threat of one-could be found elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Howard Jones
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 09:26 AM

I'd speak to a lawyer or an agent. There's nothing wrong with the proposal if you're happy to take the money in return for giving up bragging rights over the song, but how do you know this is the best deal you could get or that the terms are watertight?


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Donuel
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 09:38 AM

John Smith is obviously offering a better deal than the legal 'theft' by a Morris Levy.

Mr. Red sounds like a barrister at large worth consulting.

If you want it
Here it is,
Come and get it.
Make your mind up fast.

imho partial credit is better than none. If the hypothetical song is performed in a movie some day your name will be in the credits. Most songs have multiple credits.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: GUEST,Sol
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 09:42 AM

I could be tempted to do a 50/50 deal re. the royalties and 'composed by'. If Mr Smith doesn't like that the he can do one. Integrity does hold some value.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 09:55 AM

Take the £25,000.
Get a Mudcat chum to start a thread "Did Andy7 get £25,000 for writing ......"


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 10:09 AM

"John Smith is obviously offering a better deal than the legal 'theft' by a Morris Levy."

Exactly, Donuel, and to me this indicates weakness, or at least need. It sounds like a pre-emptive offer designed to sweep the competition off the board immediately, rather than a first pass in a negotiation. What's he worried about? Including the information that the song title will be the album title as well strikes me as poor tactics, suggesting that the song author--with his lawyer--may well be able to carve out something satisfactory to both parties.

Of course I'm just making this all up.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Mysha
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 10:40 AM

I would take the money; I don't care much about writing credits anyway. But I don't think I can. I find it difficult already to lie when there are no legal issues; a contract to lie would probably be impossible for me. Probably, promising not to claim authorship would be as far as I could go.

Looks like a very interesting contract, BTW. In itself it doesn't protect Smith's supposed authorship, as showing the contract to prove the authorship actually shows that the authorship isn't real.

Bye
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 10:51 AM

What about the rights accruing if other people decide to record the song? As a songwriter friend of mine once said "My mate 'somebodyorother' didn't write songs until he saw one of my royalty cheques."

People hav been known to buy back songwriting royalties they'd sold before they were famous.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 11:22 AM

One rumour circulating in the 1990s was that after a certain point in her famous pop career,
*a*o**a demanded more critical respect as a serious artist,
so required new young songwriters to sell her co-authorship writing credit of any songs they wrote for her to record...

...and if whilst recording she happened to change the odd word or note, then of course it became absolutely true...

It gave her a new stream of long term royalties and boosted her aspiring artistic vanity.

The songwriters, although relinquishing 100% ownership,
were guaranteed song placements on international high profile mega profit CD sales and media broadcasts,
and all the CV / career enhancing publicity that followed.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 11:31 AM

If you have the songwriting credit you have the reputation which could lead to greater royalties.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 01:06 PM

it all depends how well known the person is, as regards Miles Wooton, if i have understood correctly, the other person hs not filed the charts with number one hits, i think iwould have punched him verbally


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 01:09 PM

to continue if it is who i think it is, in the miles wooton case, the persoin is an arrogant twat who appears to have got his karma


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Vic Smith
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 01:26 PM

" the persoin is an arrogant twat who appears to have got his karma "

The person that I am referring to died in 2010.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 01:58 PM

I noticed that he had died, so I guess he got his karmic come-uppance--but is defamation of a dead person now actionable in the UK? I understand some European court was making noises in that direction 3 years ago. Did anything come of it? Would Brexit have any effect?


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Mr Red
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 03:18 PM

As I understand it, in the UK, libel does not apply in the case of deceased people. But then my info is more than 3 years old.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 03:21 PM

Thank you, Mr. Red.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 04:35 PM

Supposedly, this is pretty much exactly what happened with Robbie Williams' 'Angels'.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 04:56 PM

ded flewcrok


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 05:44 PM

I guessed... our band supported him at a gig earlier that year...


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: meself
Date: 20 Dec 17 - 10:34 PM

Robbie Robertson has a great anecdote about how indignant he was on seeing an unknown name beside his as the 'writers' on some records he made with Ronnie Hawkins - who tried to explain that this was just 'how things work'. Ronnie Hawkins later, in New York City, introduced Ronnie to the other name - and Robbie realized he was dealing with gangsters, and quickly concluded that discretion was the better part of valour.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 22 Dec 17 - 12:58 PM

If you post something on UTube or whatever, does that automatically confer copyright? I doubt it.

If it does not, what stops Sting, or whoever, just ripping it off?

Why would he/she ask you to sign any contract as to authorship unless you can prove that it was your composition? It is a bit like Einstein asking me to sign a contract that I did not develop the theory of relativity - which I did btw....


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: GUEST,Andy7
Date: 22 Dec 17 - 05:29 PM

There’s a lot less money in creating a groundbreaking scientific theory than there is in creating a smash hit song. You chose the wrong profession!


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: fat B****rd
Date: 22 Dec 17 - 05:40 PM

Speaking of *a*o**a The lady added a line or two to a seventies song co-written by an old friend of mine. He arrived home one night, from his humdrum day job to fine=d a cheque for £100,000 on the doormat. Naturally he sent it back to adhere to his principles.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: meself
Date: 22 Dec 17 - 06:21 PM

"does that automatically confer copyright?"

To my understanding - proviso: not only am I not a lawyer, I don't even play one on TV - copyright is not "conferred"; you have it automatically upon creation of a work - however, if you have no proof that you created something by a certain date, then you have no defence against someone else claiming the copyright. Similarly, if you have proof but do not present a legal challenge, then someone else might get away with claiming the copyright. So, copyright is only as good as your proof and your willingness to defend it.

Copyright is often confused with registering a work with a recognized agency, which is a different, though related, matter.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 22 Dec 17 - 07:18 PM

Aren't copyright and authorship (the issue here) separable? Copyright is transferable property, no? Is authorship as well? Of course the songwriter can contract to identify the star as the author and not claim authorship, but can he actually SELL the authorship, as he presumably could the copyright? Or am I just confused? (Or both?)


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: meself
Date: 22 Dec 17 - 08:08 PM

I'm afraid these questions exceed the vast range of my limited legal expertise.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 22 Dec 17 - 08:46 PM

Sorry, meself, I was just tossing the questions out there, not intending to impose on you.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Dec 17 - 09:02 PM

its a speculative business.

if you meet someone someone who is going to speculate on your creations. grab their hand off - even if they ask for your first born and the use of your wife.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Vic Smith
Date: 23 Dec 17 - 06:33 AM

Similarly, if you have proof but do not present a legal challenge, then someone else might get away with claiming the copyright. So, copyright is only as good as your proof and your willingness to defend it.

I have a friend who is a songwriter, Every time that he wrote a song that he was happy with, (much less frequently than every time he wrote a song) he used to turn up my house with a small reel-to-reel tape for me to record him singing the song on my tape recorder. He would them put the tape in one of those strong registered mail envelopes that the Post Office used to sell - don't know if they still do - and post it to himself.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Dec 17 - 06:37 AM

Just take the money, you know it makes sense.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: kendall
Date: 23 Dec 17 - 08:11 AM

Some time ago I wrote a song titled The Last Whale Hunt, and c. Caldeway asked if he could record it. I said yes with my blessing. He sent me a copy and he did a fine job on it. Many have heard THE SONG AND THOUGHT IT WAS TRADITIONAL damn caps lock. I hope he makes some money on it.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Thompson
Date: 23 Dec 17 - 08:36 AM

If JS likes the song that much, surely he'll be happy to pay a fee to perform it, but leave you the correct authorship.

After all, if you sell him the right to claim it as his own, then he'll get any and all residuals and copyright; if it becomes a hit for him and others re-record it and it's a hit for them too, all those profits and all that credit will go to him.

I'd say the little bollocks is chancing his arm.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Thompson
Date: 23 Dec 17 - 08:36 AM

Perhaps go and say a prayer for guidance at the grave of Jack London, who sold the rights to Call of the Wild outright.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Mysha
Date: 23 Dec 17 - 09:07 AM

Jackaroodave: Indeed, the author receives the copyrights (it's actually more than one right) and those could be transferred to someone else. The author would still remain the author, though, regardless of who hold what copyrights. Then again, the author need not be the creator. If the creator works for someone else, and in that capacity creates the work, then the other person/company/whatever is considered the author.
(Yes, that allows for a lot of lawsuits if not stated clearly in advance.)


Bye
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 23 Dec 17 - 10:01 AM

Thanks, Mysha.

So, since the OP doesn't mention copyright, only authorship, the composer could first register the copyright then still fulfill the agreement no? This could give him more leverage if the star didn't abide by the deal, or serve as an additional negotiating point.

I guess this is just pedantry on my part, since the issue is integrity vs cashing in, not how to maximize the cash-in, but I'm intrigued by the twist on the usual scenario, in which the creator signs away the copyright while maintaining authorship.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Andy7
Date: 23 Dec 17 - 12:12 PM

The posting of a registered letter to yourself with a recording inside of you singing your song might sound foolproof ... but an unscrupulous musician could still get half a dozen unscrupulous friends to swear that they heard him perform the song during a party at his house the year before, and that you were present at the party.


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: meself
Date: 23 Dec 17 - 03:03 PM

Nowadays it's probably safer just putting it up on youtube, I would think. I doubt the friends-at-a-party argument would carry much weight. On the other hand - whaddu I know?


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Mysha
Date: 23 Dec 17 - 08:16 PM

Jackaroodave: I don't think that would work. If you were to receive the copyright, as the author, and then said "BTW, the author is actually John Smith", your copyright wouldn't seem all that valid.

Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Andy7
Date: 24 Dec 17 - 04:44 AM

And when does a song become co-written?

One of my own songs was definitely improved by a friend suggesting a change to one line. But if it ever became famous, I wouldn't credit them as co-writer, nor split the royalties with them. (Well, I might buy them a pint, I suppose!)

On the other side of the coin, I was once at an event where a well-known singer songwriter co-wrote a song with the group during a songwriting workshop. My sole contribution was the addition of the word 'and', which made one of the lines scan much better. I'm not expecting a royalty cheque any time soon!


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Subject: RE: a moral dilemma
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 24 Dec 17 - 08:13 AM

Mysha: "I don't think that would work."

Oh, well, worth a try. Thanks, Mysha


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