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Who gets credit for writing a song

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Homeless 06 Aug 00 - 10:52 AM
Clinton Hammond2 06 Aug 00 - 12:12 PM
Rick Fielding 06 Aug 00 - 12:37 PM
Nynia 06 Aug 00 - 01:28 PM
kendall 06 Aug 00 - 01:45 PM
Noreen 06 Aug 00 - 02:00 PM
Nynia 06 Aug 00 - 02:09 PM
Homeless 07 Aug 00 - 09:05 AM
Irish sergeant 07 Aug 00 - 07:26 PM
dick greenhaus 07 Aug 00 - 09:20 PM
Liz the Squeak 08 Aug 00 - 05:53 PM
T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 08 Aug 00 - 08:21 PM
Irish sergeant 09 Aug 00 - 08:27 PM
Lox 10 Aug 00 - 08:56 AM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 10 Aug 00 - 09:40 AM
MGM·Lion 19 Feb 11 - 04:40 PM
olddude 20 Feb 11 - 03:28 PM
Richard Mellish 20 Feb 11 - 05:20 PM
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Subject: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: Homeless
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 10:52 AM

Since I've been getting on Mudcat I've been finding out that a lot of songs that I've heard that I thought were by the original artist are actually covers. For example, Led Zeppelin taking the writing credits for "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (among many others) or Fairport Convention attributing "Open the Door Richard" to Bob Dylan.

My question is, how do you determine who gets writing credit for a song? Can an artist take and existing song, change a couple minor things, and then take credit for writing it?


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: Clinton Hammond2
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 12:12 PM

Ask Bob Dylan... Lots of his early stuff is that branch of the folk tradition... Take and old song, change it a little bit and call it your own... Sounds like cheating to me...


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 12:37 PM

Yah, it can be cheating to a degree. It depends entirely on your personal value system...or if you don't want to be reminded of ethics, then you let your "people" take care of it.

For example, if you write some new words to a traditional tune, you can usually say "words and music by Joe Blow". Generally you'll get away with it and only the odd folkie purist will notice. Or you could credit it "Lyrics, Joe Blow, tune traditional, and note who you heard doing it originally. Fewer royalties that way, but if you're a rising star, it gives you a chance to credit, say...a Martin Carthy. (remember the "Scarborough Fair" unpleasantness?)

Had Dylan credited, say Paul Clayton, Domenic Behan or Dave Van Ronk, he would have made a few thousand less, but gained a tremendous amount of respect from a few hundred "nobodies". In the long run, the "nobodies" don't go away, but the agents and the pop music fans do.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: Nynia
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 01:28 PM

Mos songs (scottish anyway) seem to get credited to a certain R. Burns. LOL. At last nights Euro Hear Me it was Sting.


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: kendall
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 01:45 PM

Charlie Moore wrote a song called The Fiddler. It only had one verse, so, I wrote two more, but I would never claim it as mine. I gave it to Priscilla Herdman (the part I wrote) and told her who wrote the original. The most I would ever say is arrangement by me


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: Noreen
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 02:00 PM

But Sting did write 'Fields of Gold', Nynia- check the thread for links.

I'm sure a lot of this happens due to honest mistakes- if you hear a song from somebody you might assume that they wrote it without doing further research, particularly if other (equally ignorant) people agree with you!

Noreen


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: Nynia
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 02:09 PM

I accept it Noreen......it was all meant tongue-in-chhek. Sorry. :-)


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: Homeless
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 09:05 AM

I thought the purpose of copyright was to keep someone from claiming credit to a song that someone else wrote? Rick, you say that it's a question of ethics, but isn't there a legal question there also?

One interesting note... I just got a CD over the weekend of some blues artists doing versions of songs that Led Zeppelin did. Only instead of crediting the usual Page/Plant, they credited the person who actually wrote the song. So Willie Dixon finally got credit for Whole Lotta Love.


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 07:26 PM

Copyright is and can be a sore subject. Not only as an aspiring lyricist but as a writer, I feel compelled to note if I borrow a tune for a parody and credit the original writer. In the end, you have to look the person in the mirror in the eye and I wouldn't be able to if I didn't credit another for their work. Anything less is theft, albiet it may be "minor" theft but why split hairs. If I write the lyrics they are mine. If they are traditional Hell acknoledge that most prolific author Unknown. Just my two cents. Copyrights are only good for certain time. best reguards, Neil


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 09:20 PM

He who claims credit has it. Copyrights are just staking out a claim in the creative fields: they don't mean a thing unles they're upheld in court.


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 08 Aug 00 - 05:53 PM

The trouble with using non trad tunes for parodies is that you are supposed to get permission to use the tune for that parody. If the composer doesn't want you to parody his/her tune or words, you can get stung with a very hefty bill, for breach of copyright..... Most are OK about it, but some can get monumentally stroppy about it, mentioning no names (streets of London....).

Les Barker's credits get absurd after a while, crediting the original tune and composer, the original words and author, the parody words, the 'adapted' tune, etc...

LTS


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 08 Aug 00 - 08:21 PM

The purpose of copyright is to make the public domain larger, so that there will be more tunes that people can take false credit for, (heh, heh!).

Seriously, the purpose of copright is, indeed, to enlarge the public domain. In my thinking, whether one explicitly acknowledges one's sources depends on circumstances, but in most cases it's better to acknowledge the source than not to.

I think (I'm partly guessing here though--don't take my word for it) that there was a period, circa 1955-1965, when performers were pressured into claiming authorship as a way of covering the record labels' butts against lawsuits for breach of the right of first publication, as happened in the case of George v. Victor Talking Machine Company back in the 1930s.

However that may be, I think that one can usually find a place in the sheet music to put a little note in fine print saying that, say, "the bass line is based on Old Hundredth" or something like that. In the case of "Old Hundredth" it might not be necessary, since many would recognize the allusion or derivation anyhow, but I don't see any harm in being explicit.

As I understand the matter (but I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, etc. etc.), in the case of parody, in the U.S., some (not necessarily all) parodies are considered "fair use" and can be made without permission or payment, but a writer might be wise to consult a lawyer on the point before committing to writing a parody.

T.


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 09 Aug 00 - 08:27 PM

You know I read my post on this and I must apologize for sounding like a sanctimonious asshole. I do humbly tender my heartfelt apologies. Kindest reguards, Neil


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: Lox
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 08:56 AM

Irish sergeant,

There is nothing sanctimonious about what you said. Nobody annoys me more than a plagiarist when it comes to music. Doing covers is one thing, but claiming other peoples ideas as your own is the lowest form of fraud.

I insist that you withdraw your apology and apologize for daring to doubt your own sound instincts.

lox


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 10 Aug 00 - 09:40 AM

When G. F. Handel borrowed a melody of Gottlieb Muffat's for his Theodora he did so without any explicit attribution. On the other hand, one can say that he also didn't claim explicit credit for the borrowed material, only for the finished work. So I don't think it would be completely fair to conclude that Handel was trying to trick the public. Still I think that a modern writer who copies from the public domain in the same way that Handel copied from Muffat does well to try to make an explicit acknowledgement of source somewhere, sometime, rather than passing over the borrowing in silence as Handel did.

T.


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Feb 11 - 04:40 PM

11 years later! ~~ but thus thread just revived.

The ref above (Rick Fielding 6 Aug 00) to Dylan's not having credited Dominic Behan presumably refers to the tune of With God On Our Side, using the tune Dominic had previously used for The Patriot Game. But it was not original to that, but, as Dominic admitted, taken from tradition: The Grenadier & the Lady, aka To Hear the The Nightingale Sing; and so presumably as public-domain available to Dylan as to Behan.

~Michael

*{Not the Clancys' ''Kissed so sweet & comforting" version which is the one in DT; nor the "A-walking and a talking" one Isla Cameron used to sing; but yet another sung by I can't recall whom, but the first version I ever heard.}


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: olddude
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 03:28 PM

Good info Michael thank you !!


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Subject: RE: Who gets credit for writing a song
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 05:20 PM

Following the thread drift here.

Of course Dylan's words in With God On Our Side are also a response to Behan's, partly echoing the same structure:
My name is O'Hanlon, and I'm just gone sixteen
My name it is nothing, my age it means less.
etc

Both notional protagonists have been indoctrinated with the myths* of their respective countries. O'Hanlon has accepted it and dies for his beliefs. Dylan's nameless hero questions the myth.

*In using this word I pass no judgement whatsoever as to the degree of truth or falsehood in these myths.

Richard


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