#005 : Jeff Brown – A lawyer who knows a thing or two about copyright

[display_podcast]
Copyright Law – It’s what gives a copyright owner their power. Established by the framers of the US Constitution, it was designed to strike a balance between the interests of authors, and the interests of the public. We’re surrounded by copyrights. They penetrate our lives on a daily basis. They’re what hold the music industry together. Entertainment lawyer, Jeff Brown, joins us to discuss the ways of copyright and copyright law. Mind what you learn, because you’re taking your first step into a larger world!

The featured music in episode 5 is by Craig Pilo

Errata: Jeff Brown references the “Freedom” of Music Coalition, meaning The Future Of Music Coalition: HERE

 

  • http://forbisbandmchsi.com John Forbis

    Can you have more than one song on a copy right. Just finishing up a ten song CD and was wondering if I could put them all on a copy right together.

  • Kevin

    Yes you can! If you wrote all the songs on the album, and you also own the copyright in the actual sound recording (Meaning a record company didn’t pay for you to record and in turn they own the CD masters), then you can register on one form. That form would be form SR. If you didn’t write all the songs or don’t own the recording, you would need to copyright the songs using Form PA

    Check out this link for info on that -> http://www.copyright.gov/forms/formsri.pdf

    Thanks,
    Kevin

  • Robert

    can you guys compress the audio for the peeps you are interviewing? i cant tell you how horribly difficult it was listening to Jeff Brown. Great information, but too much blasting my radio just to hear him. Then when his voice would have a short burst of volume, it just killed my ears. :(

  • —————————————————————————

    Robert,

    We didn’t mean to blast your ears! We’re still figuring out the best way to do all this. We are not working in a studio, and most of the interviews happen in less than ideal conditions. I did compress Jeff’s voice, but it’s very hard to tweak these things, as they are podcasts, not songs for an album, which we would spend a ton more time tweaking. It mostly comes down to the deadline. Plus, we’re still getting use to mixing stuff down to a very poor format(mp3). The quality drops drastically when we make the final to post on the web. We’re getting better though!

    Kevin

  • Steve

    I have a situation regarding a song I wrote and paid a demo studio to produce a demo of the song for me: The problem is that the song reminds people of another song of many years ago which was a big hit. In fact it has that effect on me. Now mind you the melody of my song is not the same as the other song. In fact it is noticable different especially if you listen to the songs consecutively. But both songs are of the same genre and probably use the same instrumentation. I suppose this might mean that the arrangement is the same????

    The original hit song that folks are reminded of is a song in the public domain and as such that song may be performed or recorded by anyone without consideration of copyright violations pursuant to the words or music [melody]. However the arrangement of this hit song was copyrighted which means that anyone else who records this same song can’t record it with the same arrangement unless they pay royalties to the copyright holder.

    My question is – IF I have a completely different song with different words and a different melody than that original hit song can I perform or release the song as a recording to the public even though it makes many people listening to it think of this hit song of yesteryear.

    In other words – does the copyright of the arrangement ONLY apply to not using the same arrangement on the same song or does it extend to not using the same arrangement on any song if the effect is such that it reminds listeners of that hit song?

  • http://cdbabypodcast.com robert

    Jeff will probably get back to you, but you are completely fine in
    recording and releasing your song. The fact that it can remind someone of
    another song does not make for copyright infringement. In order for that
    to be the case, the lyrics & melody would have to be very similar.

    Glad you’re finding the podcast useful!

    Let us know if you have any other questions!

  • Steve

    Thanks for the reply Robert and yes, I do have another question:

    In the podcast I believe Jeff said that when requesting a statutory license he makes a request that the publisher tells him where they want the royalties sent. If the publisher does not reply within the specified time allowed then he indicated that he advises his clients to go ahead and release the song AND set the royalties aside in a special account [like an escrow account for royalties] and then when the publisher makes a request, the royalties are there and no problem should occur.

    I presume for this to be legal, if indeed it is, that you must request that address for royalties to be sent to as part of your request for the license. This sounds like a way of getting around the requirement I read earlier at CD Baby that you must send in royalties every month by certified mail.

    I am interested in this because I have an album called, Thinking About Bob Dylan, that I released some time ago and the 6 Bob Dylan songs require me to pay royalties to the publishers. I had no problem in obtaining licenses for 5 of the 6 that Bob Dylan himself owns the publishing companies for but one of the songs was and is a problem. I have been paying Harry Fox agency for the Digital license for that song but Harry Fox sells a license that expires in one year and the license, I believe, is for 200 downloads. We probably only sell a half dozen downloads a year for this song – so it is a losing proposition. But it is still cheaper with Harry Fox than it would be to pay the certified mail fees each month for a year. So there you have it.

    I was considering discontinuing distribution of the album for this reason or waiting until the physical CD is sold out and then discontinuing the album, putting it in “out of print” status and then re-releasing it with slightly different artwork and with only the original 11 songs instead of all 12 as a digital only release. This means a lot of work but short of following the course mentioned by Jeff Brown in the podcast or of getting the government to change the requirement of reporting and paying royalties monthly for a statutory license it may be my only recourse.

    Suggestions??

  • Richard Hunter

    So, I have two conventional records out, and will copyright them as soon as possible. I (my recording/writing collective, which consists of maybe 10 people) have written and recorded about 175 songs over the past 7 years. I have most of them available online for free download. I’d like to copyright the recordings and compositions, but was wondering if there was a way to this in one fell swoop…could I just burn a DVD of all the recordings, or an MP3 cd-r, and send that into the copyright office?

  • http://cdbaby.com/bobdylan Steve

    You can visit the copyright website or simply ask them by telephone or email.

    http://www.copyright.gov/

    Send questions using the form at http://www.copyright.gov/help/general-form.html

  • http://www.mangoosemedia.com Richard Hunter

    Steve, thanks. I contacted the copyright office, and here was their reply:

    You may register an unlimited number of unpublished songs together as a
    collection with one form and $45, as long as they are all by the same
    person or same people.

    For more information click here:
    http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ50.html#collections

    You may register an unlimited number of unpublished songs on the Form
    SR but only if the author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are the same for
    every work.

    Click here for more information:
    http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ56.html#unpublished

    A DVD with MP3 files would suffice for registration purposes.
    ——————————–

    So you CAN submit a dvd with mp3’s and copyright the whole shebang, as long as the copyright is being attributed to the same person/persons.

    great!

  • http://cdbaby.com/bobdylan Steve

    Hey that’s good to know especially if you have a ton of songs that need copyrighting all at once. I’m nowhere near that prolific.

  • http://www.duilawyersonline.net DUI Lawyers Online

    In the podcast I believe Jeff said that when requesting a statutory license he makes a request that the publisher tells him where they want the royalties sent. If the publisher does not reply within the specified time allowed then he indicated that he advises his clients to go ahead and release the song AND set the royalties aside in a special account [like an escrow account for royalties] and then when the publisher makes a request, the royalties are there and no problem should occur.

  • Amelia

    Hello,

    I’m the lyricist for my humble little band and a small problem has come up, we have a song we wish to release “Queen Of The Damned”. Although it was written without having even seen or read Queen Of The Damned (So a completely different interpration). We worry that the title may be a copyright concern. Can we still use the same title?

    Thank-you :)

    It’s been absolute maddness trying to get a straight answer out of a search engine.

  • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

    Thanks Ada!

    Cover songs can be a pain, but there are more and more services out there that make licensing easier.

    Our partner Limelight makes it easy: http://members.cdbaby.com/license-cover-song.aspx

    The Bolt