How does copyrighting entertainment work?

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SilverJazz

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A few questions-

If a band covers a song without the original artists consent but distribute it free to undercut th other bands success is that illegal? Take metallica for example also. Since they are famous for suing if my band plays one song of theirs exactly perfect can i distribute it for free on the internet?
 

Raijin Z

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The creator of the song owns the song. Legally you are obligated to get written permission from the copyright owner before "reinterpreting" their works. You then own your version of the song, somewhat. Hard to explain and have it still make sense.
 

ExCyber

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It gets even more complicated when music is involved, at least in the U.S. For music, there are two copyrighted works embodied in a recorded song - the "music" and the "recording". The record company typically holds all rights to the recording, while the songwriter/composer holds what are called mechanical and performance rights to the song itself - this means that to do a cover, you must pay the songwriter (usually through an authorized society such as ASCAP or the Harry Fox Agency) if you want to publically perform the song or distribute your own recorded version. The law in the U.S. requires songwriters/composers to license the musical rights of published songs at a particular price per copy - this is called a compulsory or statutory license. According to the HFA site, this is currently 8 cents per copy for songs under 5 minutes. I'm not sure how this extends to Internet distribution, or if Internet distribution is even covered. In the scenario you describe, there might be other laws besides copyright that could come into play, but I find it hard to believe that essentially promoting someone's song (you have to credit the original author(s), of course) and paying them to do so is likely to be considered a problem.

Once you record your new version, you would own the copyright to the recording you made, but not the song itself.

It's like Raijin Z said - "Hard to explain and have it still make sense."
 

Tolerategravity

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All that legal stuff doesn't really apply. The legal stuff is more for radio use. Thus if your cover is played on the radio, royalities will be given. By performing the song live....not really (unless the show is being broadcasted). The internet is still a little merky as far as law goes. Although just recently there was a ruling that internet radio stations had to play royalities to bands for the songs they played in 98-00 I believe.

Basically...no one is gonna care if you put up a cover your band did. People do it ALL THE TIME. Infact, there have been bootleg tribute albums that don't pay the original authors a cent. The law really only applies if you are broadcasting it through a traditional means at the moment.
 

ExCyber

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The law really only applies if you are broadcasting it through a traditional means at the moment.
References?

Title 17 Sec. 114 (d) (1) provides an exemption for "digital audio transmission", but that is only for the recording; the musical work is not exempted as far as I can tell.
 

SilverJazz

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I am asking this because I am freaful of those future cyber worlds which tracks everything you do and try and see if your doing something illegal like mp3 sharing. So I guess I was wondering is this. To stick it to them I would just perform the songs exactlly as close as possible. Since I would be giving it out to download free and not charging money how could they sue someone for physically playing a song and letting others listen to it for free? There is no company to sue or anything it is not like they can lock you up in chains and not let you play an instrument... maybe they can lol.
 

ExCyber

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I am asking this because I am freaful of those future cyber worlds which tracks everything you do and try and see if your doing something illegal like mp3 sharing.

Me too. Have you read the SSSCA draft yet? Scary that any of our "representatives" would even consider introducing such a thing. Richard Stallman (not sure whether or not I'm just mentioning him because of my recent post in that other thread :biggrin:) wrote a short story depicting a future in which this sort of thing is considered to be the norm, and it seems like we get closer to it every year.

So I guess I was wondering is this. To stick it to them I would just perform the songs exactlly as close as possible. Since I would be giving it out to download free and not charging money how could they sue someone for physically playing a song and letting others listen to it for free?

Easy: they bring a suit against you for copyright infringement under Title 17 Sec. 106 (if you're in the U.S.; similar laws exist, or are supposed to exist pursuant to various treaties, in pretty much every developed nation in the world). Monetary profit is not necessary for infringement, and performing a song publically without authorization is generally an infringement as well. If you *really* want to "stick it to them", I suggest raising awareness of the issues through parody, satire (see sig; alternatively, check this out), or informative/persuasive writing (see here)

There is no company to sue or anything

That's irrelevant. Individuals (i.e. "natural persons") can be sued. Actually, I think corporations can only be sued because they're generally considered "persons" under law, but that's the sort of thing I'd have to look up.
 

Falstaf

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The main reason a lot of individuals set up corps is so that they, as individuals with assets, are protected in the event of a law suit or failure of their business model. The corp then becomes the liable party which can be sue'd and lose assets and not the individual. It's the CYA school of business. And you can be sue'd for the broadcast of a song, if you do not have the permission of the individual or company that owns the copyright. This is a complicate issue but you do need permission before you can legally broadcast a song on the net.
 

megametalgreymon

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metallia sued napster for allowing sharing of mp3'ed copies of their work, not quite the same as sueing someone for covering a song they did

you would be best advised to actually ask the band/artist for permission, that way you can be sure where you stand
 

Tolerategravity

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No one is gonna care about a cover from an unknown band. This sort of talk is silly. It's not exactly like this board promotes legal activity if you know what I mean.

You don't have to get the artists permission to do a cover. I highly doubt Nirvana went to Boston and said "Hey, can we do a joke cover of your song for the Reading festival to make fun of how similar Smells like Teen Spirit and More than a feeling are?" It was a spontanious thing...nothing happen.

Ever take Guitar lessons? Has your instructor ever recorded you playiing the riff from the latest song? I doubt he went out and got permission to do so.

The law is worded in certain ways, but no one is gonna care.. Do you think cover bands get permission to do songs? Even when they take requests?

The law is simply there to protect the artists from people trying to make a profit on their original works, by selling the material. Unless you try and sell the cover, no one is gonna care.

To further prove my point, I challenge anyone to find a case dealing with this issue.
 

SilverJazz

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So is it like with the reverse engineering of a PlayStation emulator? Even though it is producing the same effect aka run the games it is performing the action in a different enough way.
 

ExCyber

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So is it like with the reverse engineering of a PlayStaion emulator?

Not really. A process or invention can only be patented, not copyrighted (though elements such as the BIOS can be copyrighted).

No one is gonna care about a cover from an unknown band.

You're probably right. However, the question was not whether or not covering is generally tolerated, but whether or not the artist can sue if the cover is done without permission. All law I've seen suggests that they can (in the U.S., as long as the work is registered with the Copyright Office).

I highly doubt Nirvana went to Boston and said "Hey, can we do a joke cover of your song for the Reading festival to make fun of how similar Smells like Teen Spirit and More than a feeling are?"

Parody is usually considered to be exempted by fair use, so this is a bad example. Also, I haven't listened to Nirvana in a while, but... Smells Like Teen Spirit is similar to More Than A Feeling? I must be missing something. I mean, they both have electric guitar and someone singing, but beyond that...

Ever take Guitar lessons? Has your instructor ever recorded you playiing the riff from the latest song? I doubt he went out and got permission to do so.

I also doubt he's broadcasting it or distributing recordings.

Do you think cover bands get permission to do songs? Even when they take requests?

No, but as I understand it clubs/bars/etc. that host cover bands are often licensed by ASCAP and/or BMI and pay the relevant fees. These licenses generally grant performance rights for the entire catalogs administered by these societies so that the club/bar/whatever owner doesn't have to get a separate license for each song or band.

To further prove my point, I challenge anyone to find a case dealing with this issue.

Downloading Sega CD games is legal. To further prove my point, I challenge anyone to find a case in which an individual was sued for downloading Sega CD games.

Right...

(Edited by ExCyber at 2:47 am on Mar. 10, 2002)
 
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