Question for MichaelL

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  • #11148 Reply
    Advice
    Participant

    MichaelL… Sorry to impose. I know you are a busy guy and appreciate all you do for all of us. 🙂

    I was wondering if you could explain how this process generally works… A composer writes a song and files a copyright registration on it. Let’s assume the registration is filed as “unpublished”.

    Then the composer signs a publishing contract on the song which includes assignment of copyright.

    Doe the publisher then file paperwork with the copyright office to show the assignment of copyright? There would be fees associated with that. Do publishers, due to the cost and admin headache, typically wait until there has been an actual placement to do this? Do they not do it all and let the publishing contract itself and PRO registration document the assignment?

    I heard something strange from a publisher yesterday. This publisher said he won’t accept songs for which there already is a filed copyright registration because of the hassle of transfer/assignment. That raised a big red flag with me because most publishers I’ve dealt with for many years have no problem with and actually prefer that a copyright registration was filed. That made me want to check with a music attorney as to how this process actually works and/or is typically done in our industry.

    Thanks… If you are too busy to answer, I certainly understand!

    #11150 Reply
    Advice
    Participant

    Just replying to see if I can bump this one up. 🙂

    #11151 Reply
    MichaelL
    Participant

    Do publishers, due to the cost and admin headache, typically wait until there has been an actual placement to do this? Do they not do it all and let the publishing contract itself and PRO registration document the assignment?

    Hi Advice,
    I can’t speak to the practices of all publishers, and /or what different procedure they may follow. Yes, a publisher would have to file for a second registration as a published work, if you filed as an unpublished work. No big deal. Waiting for a placement would seem odd.
    Non-exclusives sometimes don’t register with your PRO until there’s a placement, but that’s different althogether.

    The request from the publisher that you not copyright your music raises a bit of a red flag with me too, unless it’s a work for hire situation. In that case filing the copyright is up to them.

    What may be going on is that the publisher waits until they accumulate a number of works, and then they register them as a collection to save money, which raises issues on its own. In a worst case scenario, they are not even bothering to register your music. You’d be suprised how much that happens. You can actually check with the copyright office to see if this company owns any copyrights. That’ll let you know if they bother to register.

    Personally, I would be uncomfortable sending uncopyrighted material anywhere. Try to get an explanation.

    Best,
    Michael

    #11155 Reply
    Advice
    Participant

    What seems odd to me is this… If they are trying to avoid a fee for the re-registration of filing of copyright assignment documentation, it makes no sense. If they were filing an original registration, they would pay a fee as well. So why should they care if it’s already registered? (rhetorical question)

    My guess is that most libraries/publishers, unless there is big money involved such as with major placements or artists, never file anything as far as the assignment of copyright. They couldn’t afford the overhead.

    Yes, red flag. Thanks, Michael! 🙂

    #11156 Reply
    Rob (Cruciform)
    Guest

    I know the company involved and they’re not publishers. They’re a feeder catalogue. The music is passed through to client libraries who may opt to take music from him as either WFH or shared licensing.

    Now I don’t know the US situation, but in this case if he hands over multiple hundreds of cues to a client publisher, and that publisher then has to arrange transfer of copyright from many different writers rather than just doing the initial registration of copyright over a collection in their own name, would there be a significant difference in paperwork and fees?

    FWIW, I’ve had absolutely no reason to doubt the person involved.

    #11157 Reply
    Rob (Cruciform)
    Guest

    Ps. I meant to finish with “I’ve no reason to doubt the integrity of the person involved”. But I’m not up on the US copyright situation so I don’t know the ins and outs.

    #11158 Reply
    MichaelL
    Participant

    If Rob is talkling about the same company that you are, it makes sense.

    Rob, I think you mentioned this company to me before…yes?

    What happens if the libraries pass on the tracks? Does the feeder company return them to the composer?

    #11159 Reply
    Rob (Cruciform)
    Guest

    Hi MichaelL, yep same company on both counts.

    The situation with rejected tracks will depend. If there is a quality issue they might be returned to the composer. If there is no other foreseeable marketing opp for the tracks, the composer would usually be given the option to withdraw them. Otherwise, they’ll just become part of a new pitch to another library.

    And I’m heading for bed.

    #11160 Reply
    Advice
    Guest

    Just to clarify… By “red flag” I did not mean I was at all concerned about my music being stolen. Not at all… Was more concerned about understanding industry practices and whether not accepting tracks with filed copyrights makes sense.

    To me, even if someone is acting as a middleman to send tracks to other libraries, those other libraries should be quite used to receiving tracks that already have copyrights filed for them. After all, those libraries take direct submissions as well and composers filing copyrights is quite normal.

    What might explain it (?) is if the writers are writing custom cues as work for hire as commissioned by the middleman. Maybe that’s what I’m missing. But if I had tracks already written and copyrighted, it wouldn’t make sense to ME for this party not to accept them because of the copyright filing.

    I may be all wet here. That’s why I asked.

    #11162 Reply
    Desire_Inspires
    Participant

    Is this the same company that assigns a portion of the writer’s share to a person that did not write the cue? Just curious…

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