Copyright Questions

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Some copyright threads have broken out in various areas of MLR so I will move them here. From now on please post any questions you may have regarding copyrights here.

200 thoughts on “Copyright Questions

  1. This thread is now closed. Please see the new forum for Copyright Questions https://musiclibraryreport.com/forums/forum/copyright-questions/.

  2. I’m starting to copyright my stuff as collections containing 15 or more cues since it’s too expensive doing individual cues at a rate $35 a pop when I’m writing almost 2 a week.
    Anything to add? tips? opinions? I do realize that if you assign a copyright to somebody(which I don’t intend to do),then I would in effect be giving rights to the whole group under that collection but I’m more interested in just having proof that I did in fact right the music if it ever came up.

  3. When you have more than one version of a piece, is it advisable to copyright each version? For example, one piece of mine has one version with a brief intro and one without. Another piece with acoustic guitars and strings has a version with guitars only.

    I guess this would also apply to stings and pieces with several edits for time.

    Since I’ll be copyrighting as a collection, money isn’t the issue. I’m just wondering when it’s worth the extra busy work of uploading and titling the variations.

    • My understanding is that you are applying for a copyright of the composition, not the master recording, so that answer, in my mind at least, is no – you only need to copyright it one time.

      • Use Form PA to copyright just the underlying work.

        Use Form SR to copyright the sound recording and the underlying work.

        Edits and mixes are part of the underlying work, unless they change its character to the point of being a derivative work.

        • I copyright mine online and on the application you have Title,then completion date and below that you have a choice of what the author created where I select sound recording and music.
          That’s how I’ve been doing it. There’s no online PA form you can fill out that I’m aware of though I used to before you could copyright online.

  4. Think twice before using cracked software!

    Not only is it a cheesy classless thing to do, but it can be expensive.

    http://soniccontrol.tv/2012/03/11/california-federal-district-court-awards-cinesamples-llc-379050-in-digital-piracy-suit/

    • Ironic. Composers/musicians would be incensed about someone stealing their music but have no problem stealing music software.

  5. Hi Cynic,

    Start by hiring an attorney to send them a cease and desist letter. If you do not, at least do that, you are signaling that you have no clear intention of pursuing the matter. Also, report the infringing use to your PRO. Did the track come from a library?

    Best of luck,

    Michael
    I

  6. Hi,

    This is really getting me down. A film director is using my music, without paying for it, and without my permission. I have contacted them many times, and they have just fobbed me off with promises to pay. This has been going on for years, seriously, years. I want to pursue legal action because I am sick of being treated like scum.

    But is there anything I can even do? Or is this just another example of how utterly powerless we are as composers.

    What do you do when someone uses your music without permission?

    • Honestly, I think you should leave the matter alone. The guy that is using your music without permission is wrong, but he has been doing it for years. Even if he stopped today, you would not be compensated.

      You shouldn’t waste any more time or money pursuing the matter. Just forget aboout it and promote your new music. That is what I would do.

      • Why do I bother?

        At least when I put “Esquire” after my name I get paid to have people
        ignore my opinion. 😆

        • Cynic would definitely be doing the right thing by hiring a lawyer and chasing down payment from the film director. But my guess is that Cynic would probably spend more money than he recouped. I just wouldn’t put too much effort into it unless the payoff was great.

          I am not even sure why Cynic posted his situation other than to vent. Venting is not bad, but I don’t think he was really looking for answers. To me, Cynic just seemed to be making a rhetorical statement, as he said “But is there anything I can even do?”

          • I have been in this situation where a producer of a prime time TV show just fobbed me off when it came to payment. A simple letter from my publisher to inform him to take my music off the program immediately, and that another letter would be sent to the legal dept of the TV station, got a cheque in my hand 24 hours later. Trust me the amount of grief and cost to take something off an already mixed film is enough to put these guys into action.
            Distributors of TV and movies want and need ironclad agreements covering all the content or they won’t touch it. Have you ever seen a film music contract ? Very detailed and specific.

    • Cynic,

      I understand your frustrations. I agree with Michael in that you should look into legal representation. If your track was originally obtained from a stock library, that library may aid in this battle. I have been involved in this several times in the past on behalf of artists. Your PRO might also help you, at least in retrieving Performance Royalties.

      I feel that it is the wrong move to lie down and let the abuser continue to use the composition. It sends the wrong message to the abuser and others who continually misuse commercial music.

    • Hi Cynic

      Defo do as MichaelL suggests. A cease and desist letter shouldn’t be expensive. I don’t know what country you are in but here in Europe the national EBU TV stations have to have the correct clearance and documentation for all music used. If it has been shown or will be shown contact the legal department and inform them that a proper sync license has not been obtained. That programme will not be aired until the issue has been resolved.

      • Thank you to everyone for your replies. Synth Player was slightly right, in that I needed to vent and I was partly rhetorical, but I also was genuinely wondering what I can do.

        Unfortunately, I have got myself into a real mess with this one, as it all started ages ago – before I understood how to protect my music better. I have written music for a director making a feature, but they missed all the payment deadlines to pay me. We’re in different countries. It isn’t yet set to be aired anywhere, and he is going to get another composer (and probably con them too), but basically I have nothing I can do except hiring an attorney, and in this particular case, I can just feel that is not going to help me, and also be very expensive. I have learnt my lesson. For all future directors, it’s at least 50% payment up front – or they can get lost.

        Thank you again for your advice everyone.

  7. Hi everyone,

    My wife was playing around on the internet last night and saw my name on a couple of albums by a company i’ve never heard of. They are selling several of my tracks in a compilation album. I’m fairly new to selling music so I don’t know if this is legal – anyone know if it is? Is it legal to buy music from a company and resell it?

    Thanks for any help

    Jon

    • If you are on Audiosparx, they have a relationship with Rosenklang records that you may have authorized without knowing it. Any of that sound familiar?

    • This is a pretty common occurrence in the record industry. I am not surprised that music libraries have started this practice. It is another way for these companies to make a buck. Hopefully you get paid for the usage of your music.

      • Audiosparx does pay you for the sales from Rosenklang. It’s small amounts but if you have enough sales you can buy yourself a couple of latte at Starbucks 😉

        • It’s kinda interesting to see what Rosenklang licenses. My bestselling track turns out to be the instrumental backtrack of one of my bossanovas. I never would have dreamed of putting it on a record! Made enough for one latte!

  8. Hello guys
    Just hoping that if anyone has a minute they can look at this clause in a contract that ive been asked to sign. Its a non exclusive deal but this part doesnt seem to be non exclusive to me. Am i missing something? Ive contacted the library about it and they said its very common.
    thanks

    “You agree to comply with any ‘non-compete’ licensing restrictions that may be imposed by an
    End User (this happens only in advertising-see glossary). We will notify You of any such usage and You
    also must notify Us of any non-compete restrictions that affect Your songs that were generated through
    another licensing agreement or company.”

    • Rob (Cruciform) says:

      It’s as they say. Just say a track of yours is used in a nice ad for Mercedes. The sound forms part of the branding and Merc aren’t going to want to hear the same music pop up in a Chrysler ad a month later. Generally speaking, the exclusivity would be for a limited period, say one year. But depending on the wording of the restrictions, you would generally be still free to license the music for non-car ad usage.

      So what the clause is saying is should your music be used in an ad, you will have a responsibility to inform other libraries that have that track, and also to inform this library should the track be used elsewhere with non-competing restrictions. The worst thing that could happen is two competing companies use the same track at the same time having sourced it from two different libraries. You’d be in violation of contract with the first company who licensed it.

      MichaelL or some long time ad music makers around here could clarify this more, I’m sure.

      • Hello Rob
        Thanks for taking the time to reply i appreciate it. Ok well that sounds fairly straightforward then i think it should be ok!

  9. Not sure if this has ever been discussed here and any references/help would be appreciated!

    Below is part of a contract that was sent to me after getting approved for a library. This is from a company that has tons of credits on TV and some serious clients since I found out about them on shows. Anyway, they are non-exclusive, they retitle but also want 100% copyright of the new title and to register it. I have a number of placements, dealt with a fair number of contracts so far yet I am ignorant when it comes to this exact matter. Still in the early stages of my career. Never heard of it. Thoughts? Thanks.

    “Such transfer of rights includes, without limitation, one hundred percent (100%) the copyright in the Composition(s). It is understood and agreed that the Compositions and Masters are previously existing Compositions and Masters which Publisher shall rename/re-title and the rights herein shall apply to the Compositions under such new titles (nothing herein shall prevent Writer from entering into non-exclusive agreements for the Compositions under other titles, provided such licenses do not infringe upon Publisher’s rights hereunder). The Composition(s)and Master(s) hereby granted are set forth in Schedule A hereto, which shall contain the original and the new title.”

    • Hi Rosco,

      From what I understand the only thing “copyrightable” is the composition and the recording, titles are not. They are asking you to transfer the copyright and yet you still retain the copyright? I’m not a lawyer so hopefully MichaelL will jump in but it seems to me that clause isn’t even legal. It may be that they are trying to lay claim to your song in case the retitling business model blows up (doubtful). On the face of it I wouldn’t sign it.

      • Thanks for the info Art! Hopefully we can figure it out with all of the knowledge here.

        I hope it’s not a big deal that I take up a lot of space on this thread but here is more from the contract if that helps. Thanks!

        “Writer hereby irrevocably assigns and transfers one hundred (100%) of all rights and interests of any kind in and to certain musical composition(s) (each, a “Composition”) and each recording of each such Composition (each, a “Master”), to the Publisher. Each Composition and Master shall be deemed a “work made for hire”. To the extent any such Composition or Recording is determined not to be a work made for hire for The Library, Writer hereby assigns to The Library all right, title and interest in and to such Composition(s) and Master(s) together with all rights (including copyright and other proprietary rights) in and to such Compositions and Masters throughout the universe in perpetuity. Publisher shall have the perpetual exclusive right to exploit, administer and control one hundred percent (100%) of the Composition(s) and Master(s) throughout the world in any and all formats, now known or hereafter developed, free from any claims by Writer or any other party. Such transfer of rights includes, without limitation, one hundred percent (100%) the copyright in the Composition(s). “

        • Rob (Cruciform) says:

          Rosco – have an entertainment attorney read it in entirety. It’s very possible for us and you to interpret something incorrectly when extracted from the context of the whole contract.

          My 2c – the paragraphs you’ve posted indicate transfer of copyright in the composition while at the same time giving you the right to enter into other agreements on the composition. AFAIK, this is not possible, because copyright belongs to the composition, not the title. Merely giving it a new title and then referring to the composition underlying the new title would not seem to be valid, as the compositions are identical.

          At face value, this is a very confused contract and I would not sign it without legal advice.

          • Thanks for the info Rob! Yeah, this is the first contract where I am thinking about hiring a copyright lawyer that I know in my area. Pretty confusing, that’s for sure.

            • Rob: Also to add to that about you mentioning “It’s very possible for us and you to interpret something incorrectly when extracted from the context of the whole contract.”

              I agree. The interesting thing about this contract is that that is the bulk of it. It’s only a few pages (2 to 3). Not 10 or 11 like some of the other ones I have dealt with that are way simpler. Crazy how that works.

        • Hi Rosco,

          I would love to know the name of this library. MLR has managed to change some libraries practices in the past but the least we could do is protect other composers from the potential ramifications of this company’s practices.

          Thanks for the heads up!

    • Hi Rosco,

      Standard disclaimer: I don’t represent you in this or any other matter. This post is my opinion only and not legal advice.

      Both Art and Rob are correct. A copyright exists in the underlying musical work NOT the title. You cannot transfer your copyright and then enter agreements with other publishers for that work, because YOU NO LONGER OWN IT!

      Despite what this library/publisher says, you are putting yourself in a position where the publisher could sue you for infringement if you actually try to license your works through another publisher.

      “(nothing herein shall prevent Writer from entering into non-exclusive agreements for the Compositions under other titles, provided such licenses do not infringe upon Publisher’s rights hereunder)” READ THE WORDS “PROVIDED SUCH LICENSES DO NOT INFRINGE UPON PUBLISHER’S RIGHTS HEREUNDER.” That is extremely broad and potentially prevents you from doing anything.

      This is NOT a good deal. IMHO, registering the same piece of music with the Library of Congress under different titles would constitute fraud. Once you enter into this deal, your music is GONE, it is no longer yours. This kind of deal preys upon desperate writers, who would sell their soul just to get a “placement.”

      Why would this library request 100% ownership of your copyright, when most non-exclusive retitling libraries DO NOT? There are several possibilities: 1) they want to sell the library for a huge chunk of change down the road, and you can’t do that if you don’t own the copyrights and 2) they think that you’re desperate and stupid.

      Any deal that requires transfer of copyright should pay you $$$ upfront. If not, I would run in the other direction as fast as possible. As I said, this is just my opinion.

      I would take Rob’s advice and have your own entertainment attorney read the contract. If you cannot afford one, many cities have volunteer lawyers for the arts.

      Best,

      Michael

      • PS. There is a third explanation, giving the library/publisher the benefit of the doubt, and that is that their contract was drawn up by a non-lawyer, or a lawyer not familiar with intellectual property law. Because the contract so effectively gives them something for nothing, I doubt it.

      • Rob (Cruciform) says:

        Rosco – hopefully MichaelL’s great followup helped.

        Another option is to treat this deal *AS* exclusive if you are confident in this company’s ability to place your work. Simply assume any tracks signed to them are no longer yours and don’t sign them to non-excl. deals elsewhere.

        • @ MichaelL: Thanks for the in depth explanation. I was looking forward to your response. Yeah, I basically didn’t have a good vibe from it initially and wouldn’t feel very comfortable entering into agreements after. @ Rob (Cruciform): Yeah that’s a good idea and crossed my mind. Thanks for the help MichaelL, Rob and Art! Going to move on for now and keep writing for my “go to” libraries.

          • Hi Rosco,
            I sent you a PM. I would like to know who the library is.
            FWIW, Rob is correct, you could treat the company as if it is exclusive, and not submit your tracks anywhere else. In fact, what they are offering IS an exclusive deal. They should simply be upfront, call it an exclusive deal and not try to make writers think it’s non-exclusive, IMHO.
            Good luck,
            Michael

  10. Interesting discussion. Does anyone here actually register their tracks with the
    Library of Congress

    • Once I reached about 200 songs, I stopped registering my songs. It got too expensive after that. I know that it may come back to haunt me, but not likely. I don’t think anyone is gonna infringe on my songs to the point that I would lose significant money. I would be flattered more than anything.

      The weird thing is that I hear clones of songs all of the time. I went to the Universal Music Library and heard a whole album of pop songs that copied current releases. I am pretty sure that if the artists of label discovered this, they would have a strong case. Copies of songs always appear on reality TV shows I watch.

    • Not everything, but some. I like to register full songs with lyrics/vocals especially if there is a co-writer.

    • I haven’t because up until now the music I’ve written has usually been commissioned by a library or other project (film, TV etc). Now that I’m in the process of building a library, I’ll start doing it for tracks that I own.

      • Hi Matt,

        Will you copyright individually, which is expensive, or by “collection,” which will allow you to cover a number of tracks under the same registration number, and save on the filing fees?

        That would make sense if you don’t anticipate splitting the tracks between publishers in the future. Even then you should be able to re-register tracks that you remove from the collection.

        Cheers,

        Michael

        • A few times a year I send off a new collection of a bunch of music to copyright. Use the online form and you can register a bunch of stuff for $35.00. I always print out the shipping slip and send in CDs instead of uploading the files. Not sure if they still do this but I believe they give you a limited time window to upload everything. All of my files wouldn’t fit.

          A cheap price to pay for protection of your IP.

        • John (the other John) says:

          “Will you copyright individually, which is expensive, or by “collection,” which will allow you to cover a number of tracks under the same registration number, and save on the filing fees?That would make sense if you don’t anticipate splitting the tracks between publishers in the future.” – MichaelL

          I think we debated this once before MichaelL. Please don’t take offense to this:

          A “collection” copyright registration is just as valid as a single song registration. Keep in mind, this copyright registration is yours personally (to protect you if Fed court is necessary – a snowball’s chance in H ).Let’s say you have a collection titled “Love Songs”. Contained in this collection is Song A, Song B, Song C, etc… So you sign Song A to one library and Song B to another. Each of these libraries only have rights (per contract agreements) with the specific titled track, not with any other tracks within the collection.If a library wants a copyright registration of one of these tracks, they’re free to copyright it separately.However, with the 16+ libraries I’m with, none of them asked me for a copyright. They do make it clear (in their contracts) that they expect the writer to be the sole owner of such works and have the power to negotiate library agreements with such tracks.

          Think of this copyright registration as your own personal protection. You don’t have to share it with anyone else.You paid for the protection, it’s yours.

          BTW, an entertainment attorney told me the songs contained within a “collection” registration can be split, sliced, & diced in any manner. The library has no right to any songs in a “collection” other than the specific song they have under contract.

          John

          • @(John (the Other John)
            No offense taken. There’s a lot of half right in what you said, including your entertainment attorney’s opinion.There is nothing wrong with copywriting a collection. I do it. Here’s the rub. What you are saying is perfectly OK in the non-exclusive re-titling world. That is in such a legal gray area as it is.

            No offense, but I’m going to assume that the 16 libraries that you are in fall into that category.However, if you registered a “collection” and two exclusive libraries, who expect to own the copyright to the music, like Extreme or Killer Tracks, want different parts of the collection, you would have to re-register those parts individually.

            I never said that you couldn’t, or shouldn’t, register a collection. The point is that it depends on where the music is going. In the non-exclusive world you are merely granting licenses, not transferring ownership of the copyright. The sticky, but not insurmountable part of copywriting a collection, arises when two different entities want to own different parts of the same copyright.

            “If a library wants a copyright registration of one of these tracks, they’re free to copyright it separately.” Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The application asks if a work has been registered previously. If the answer is yes then an explanation must be provided regarding the new copyright. And with respect to the original copyright, the “collection” is no longer that same “collective” work because a piece of it is missing. So, is the new work (remaining collection) still protected? Further, what you are saying essentially is “if the library wants a copyright that’s their problem.” In my experience businesses like to avoid problems. So maybe that’s not the approach to take.

            “However, with the 16+ libraries I’m with, none of them asked me for a copyright.”That is most likely because they are non-exclusive and as such you are granting them licenses. And, they in turn sublicense to their clients/buyers.Do you see the difference?

            Cheers,

            Michael

            PS. An “entertainment attorney” and an intellectual property attorney are two different specialties. Sometimes they overlap. However IP law covers trademarks, patents and copyrights and really is a distinct area of expertise. So, I would advise consulting with an IP attorney on the issue.

            • John (the other John) says:

              “If a library wants a copyright registration of one of these tracks, they’re free to copyright it separately.” Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The application asks if a work has been registered previously. If the answer is yes then an explanation must be provided regarding the new copyright.” – MichaelL

              Then in that scenario one would simply leave an explanation. I don’t really see any pitfalls in multiple copyright registrations – as long as the composer remains honest.

              Half of my libraries are exclusive, the other half non-exclusive. Yeah, I know, there are “exclusives”, then there are “EXCLUSIVES”.

              Best, John 🙂

              • @John (The Other John)

                I know that joined the MLR just so that you could keep arguing with me about copyright law! 😆

                Best,

                Michael

                • John (the other John) says:

                  “I know that joined the MLR just so that you could keep arguing with me about copyright law!” – MichaelL

                  Yeah, I’ve always been a wannabe lawyer. I’ll have to settle with arguing with one. 😀 Though I’d rather call it “debating”.

                  Best, John 🙂

  11. I know that I have discussed to this issue before. BUT…I was just on another forum where
    a composer advised another writer that he could save money by doing a “poor man’s copyright.”
    i.e., mailing a copy of your music to yourself.

    NO NO NO, a thousand times NO. This is a useless myth that carries no legal weight. Your music is copy-written at the moment of creation. BUT…it is not registered. In order to sue
    someone for copyright infringement you MUST have a registered copyright. If you do not have a registered copyright you cannot sue. It’s that simple. The poor mans copyright is NOT a substitute for a registered copyright in any way shape of form.

    Michael

    • John (the other John) says:

      Yes, definitely won’t work in the USA Federal court, but a composer told me the “Poor Man’s Copyright” holds up in the UK court. Wonder if the advisor is from another Country.

      • No it will NOT hold up in the UK either
        the whole notion of a poor man’s copyright is an extremely dangerous myth!

        • John (the other John) says:

          Are you from the UK LL? In the UK there is no system available to register a copyright work for it to be protected. The ‘poor man’s copyright” is just one of many proof of ownerships. Maybe not the most convincing, but it appears it can be used in UK court.

          • John (the Other John) Copyright “protection” is a bit of a misnomer. You own the copyright to your works at the moment of creation. BUT…if you ever want to sue someone for infringement, the work in question MUST be registered. As they said in law school, a copyright registration is your “ticket” into federal court. The registration is the minimum threshold requirement for entry into the courts. It’s really neither a suite of armor or a sword. You still have to prove infringement — for which there are a number of defenses. All of which often takes for more money and time than it’s worth. Unless you’re talking about a hit song –for which the damages could be in the millions.

            Cheers, Michael

            • John (the other John) says:

              Yes Michael, I’m well aware of the copyright and copyright infringement procedures in the USA. I was referring to the different procedures in other countries, namely the UK.

              It’s funny, we Americans think the World centers around us. 😀

              Best, John 🙂

            • When you say registered, do you mean registered with a PRO? If so how does that prove anything but the title.

  12. Hey Josh,

    My message may have gotten lost in the menagerie of posts…try doing a project through kickstarter.com

    I respect your stance on CC/PROs (although my stance is the exact opposite) I truly believe if you go through a service like kickstarter.com you should see some nice income without compromising your Copyright…

  13. Hey all! I’m a Creative Commons (Attribution) artist who’s starting to put more effort into licensing deals. Because of the CC licensing, I’m not a member of a PRO (long story short, they won’t take CC music, and that’s more than dandy by me).

    Given my situation of not caring about PRO split, what should I be looking for in a library company in order to optimize my return and marketability? Aside from Jamendo, are there any companies who prefer or require non-PRO music?

    When I license through someone like Music Dealers, and they retitle the work, what happens? Does it get added to their PRO account, and I get the cut from theirs? Or do they get their 50% and the rest gets “lost”? Or does neither side get anything?

    • I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to join a PRO. It seems that you’re limiting yourself to a few libraries that don’t want PRO affiliated writers and shutting out the majority of companies that want you to a member of ASCAP or BMI. In the case of Music Dealers, for example, they would collect 50% of the publishing royalties. But all the writer money and 50% of the publisher money would go into a general fund and eventually be paid to someone else as part of a slush fund. You would lose out totally.

      I’d reconsider your decision to avoid the PROs. Why would you intentionally want to miss out on potentially thousands of dollars each year in royalties?

      • Without getting into a debate into the mafia-esque tactics of the PROs, here’s a summary of the dispute between them and Creative Commons:

        http://www.lessig.org/blog/2007/12/commons_misunderstandings_asca.html

        I’ve built a strangely large audience by licensing all 170+ of my songs as Creative Commons, and I’m deeply personally and philosophically committed to the license, and to offering no-strings-attached free music for my fans to download and use in projects (with attribution).

        That said, I want to start making more money through traditional licensing that doesn’t fall under CC-BY (even if that means leaving royalty money on the table). So, back to the original question – what types of services would be best for my situation?

        • oontz oontz says:

          Hey Josh,

          I’m a long time fan of your music, but there’s a slim chance that a TV/Film producer will pay you any sort of respectable license fee for your music since you’re so adamant about giving your music away for free.

          Maybe try something like kickstarter.com, I can see you making a nice income from a service such as that, probably a better income than similar artists who work their tails off trying to license their music…

    • you have to go with a PRO. If you take tour music seriously. Join one. It is the only way to make the money you deserve. Look at the thousands upon thousands of Artists who belong to them. they do not join it just to join. Take a step back and take good look at your Career and decide which one (PRO) you prefer And join so you will get your just rewards.

      • See my response above: the PROs might be a good fit for many of you, but I’m taking a different path that’s working out very well.

        • I applaud your efforts to not join a PRO. I joined one and my earnings have been pitiful so far. Don’t let anyone make you seem like an amateur or ignorant because you want to do something different. I am not sure you will get any help here since most people are trying to make a living from music royalties.

          Just keep searching within yourself and you will find a way to be successful. And please do not forget to enjoy making music. I got so caught up in trying to make money that I lost the joy that music brought me.

          • John Telaak says:

            “And please do not forget to enjoy making music. I got so caught up in trying to make money that I lost the joy that music brought me.”

            Amen – I recently got caught up the same way – I decided to get back to making the music that I dig whether it sells in a library or not – it didn’t feel right forcing it –

        • >I’m taking a different path<

          I don't mean to be glib but..to where?

          Comparing the PROs to the mafia is unprofessional, and refusing to join a PRO is simply naive. That's where the money is …NOT sync fees. Belonging to a PRO does not preclude writing for a library that does not pursue backend money. It's a direct license, which is completely permissible.

          • Hello Josh,

            I apologize if my response seems harsh, or jaded, or whatever.

            I respect your passion/feelings about giving your work away. But, other than for humanitarian purposes, who else does that? Framers do not give away their crops, plumbers, carpenters and electricians do not work for free, neither do doctors, lawyers, or the clerks at the grocery store. I agree with oontz, once you’ve given your work away that is what film and TV producers will think it’s worth — nothing.

            _Michael

            • Again, not looking for a holy war here, or condescending lectures – just advice. I’m already making a living wage through my “free” music, and I have millions of listeners, so I’m not eager to dive back headfirst into a 20th century music industry that doesn’t exist anymore. I’m just looking how to maximize what I’m making within the parameters that have worked out very well for me so far.

              I’m looking into whether I can register with a PRO under a different artist name with the same music, but it sounds like a lot of the legitimate free uses of my music would still be indirectly tagged and billed. So PROs are not currently an option for me.

              Anyone with actual advice? 🙂

              • Hi Josh,

                >I’m not eager to dive back headfirst into a 20th century music industry that doesn’t exist anymore.<

                It sounds as if you're the one being condescending.

                You are a singer songwriter, which is a whole different ball of wax from being a professional library writer, or someone like myself, who writes full-time for television.

                Now, I'll answer your question. When you join a PRO, you enter into a contract with the PRO that allows them to collect royalties for the tracks that you register with them. You are not obligated to register all of your tracks. You may enter into a direct license with an end user. That may be for money or, in your case, for free. However, once you register your tracks with the PRO it will be entitled to collect royalties on THOSE tracks. So, yes, they would pursue people who used the same tracks via CC, if they were used in a medium covered by the PRO. And you would be violating your contract with the PRO.

                Your best best might be to reserve some of your catalog for licensing through a PRO, and some for direct licensing. I don't think that you can have a foot in both worlds any way other than to keep them separate.

                You wouldn't need to sign up with a PRO under another name unless, of course, your concerned that it would harm your image with your CC audience. You know, kind of like a vegan sneaking into McDonalds. Oops there I go being condescending again. 😉

                Cheers,

                Michael

                • Instead of using a pseudonym, and joining a PRO, you could consider registering instrumental versions of your songs under alternate titles. There is a fairly good market for acoustic guitar music.

                  • Thanks, Michael, that was helpful. I do have instrumental versions of everything, but those are Creative Commons as well.

                    Do you happen to know what constitutes a unique work in the eyes of a PRO (something where I could register and collect royalties on non-Creative Commons licenses, but where it wouldn’t conflict with the free version), or where I could find information about this? Could I change the title and keep the same recording, or use a new recording of the same song, or would I need new lyrics on top of the same recording, new lyrics on top of a new recording, etc?

                    • I’m going to be a typical lawyer, and revise my thinking a bit. You have an absolute right to direct license your music.

                      How the PROs handle your direct license when you also license the same piece of music through a licensing agent or library, I do not know.

                      I think that your best bet would be to contact a library and ask them how they feel about it AND if they would even want to represent your music if you’re already distributing it through CC. Contact ASCAP or BMI and ask them how they would deal with it.

                      There is a series of videos by Todd Brabec of ASCAP that you might find informative.
                      here http://www.artistshousemusic.org/node/5369/135 and on youtube.

                      _MIchael

          • It would be wise to note that most non-american PRO’s do NOT allow direct licensing. Even some american PRO’s have significant restrictions on direct licences. For example with SESAC you can offer a direct licence, but only if you charge the the same (or more) than SESAC does.

      • Sorry – I have to agree. If you are serious about a long term career within library music, you need to be registered with a PRO.
        As I, and others have said before : this can be a big money business – make yourself part of it.

    • Hi Josh-
      I checked out your site and your tracks. Very nice work.
      We are a popular non-PRO library and usually only accept instrumentals but we also have a vocals category that is getting more popular over time.
      We only work off of synch licenses and our composers are getting between $24.95 to, in some cases, $129.95 per track.
      We have two sites where we sell royalty free music
      http://www.musicloops,com
      http://www.partnersinrhyme.com
      Check out the sites and if you’re interested in submitting you can contact me via any of the contact links on the pages there.
      For your music I would suggest posting vocal and instrumental versions as packages.

      btw- I love your attitude and your succinct statements regarding modernizing attitudes about the music industry,
      “I’m not eager to dive back headfirst into a 20th century music industry that doesn’t exist anymore”
      Beautiful!

      PS- Sitting here cracking up to your song Skynyrds Number 4874. I’ve so been there and you put it into a song, perfect.

      -Mark

      • Hi Josh,

        To follow-up, don’t get me wrong

        I agree with your view and Mark’s to a degree….

        >”I’m not eager to dive back headfirst into a 20th century music industry that doesn’t exist anymore”<

        Anyone who follows a number of forums is well aware of the lament over how things aren't the way they used to be. Exclusive libraries complain about non-exclusives, but then they don't open their doors or their checkbooks to new artists. As a result, ambitious and motivated writers will simply find alternative means of distribution.

        But..it’s not simply a black and white,PRO or non PRO world. Diversify and never do things a certain way because they've always been done that way. By diversify I mean, it doesn’t have to be either / or. Have tracks on CC. Have tracks in a royalty free library. Have tracks in as many places as you can.

        I did my first "royalty free" library music 30 years ago. I received a percentage of every "tape and record" sold. At the same time, I had tracks in a well known exclusive library and received and received PRO royalties. (BTW I made far more money from the royalty free library.)

        I didn't think of the royalty free option for your tracks. I'm glad Mark spoke up. YES, that would be a viable way of monetizing THE SAME tracks that you have on CC without worrying about potential PRO issues. And, from what I can tell, because Mark is selective, you are far less likely to get lost in the crowd.

        If you want to generate PRO money down the road. Keep part of your catalog separate for the purpose.

        Nothing ventured –nothing gained.

        Best of luck Josh.

        Michael

    • Hi Josh, thanks for discussing the concept of Creative Commons. As a composer who makes a great deal of my income from royalties, and I’m sure most other composers here are in the same boat, could you tell us a little more about why you prefer to use the Creative Commons model?

      I have some questions –

      Because you’re not with a PRO, can another composer theoretically take your music, add an instrument or two, and re-title it as their own track? What ‘attribution’ would there be for a re-mixed / re-arranged track if it sits in a library to be used on TV?

      I’m not condoning such a thing, but I just see the potential for you to get taken for a ride…

      Great music by the way.

      • Creative Commons is awesome – depending on your goals. Mine was to make the music I want, put it out there, hope that people enjoy it, and maybe make some cash doing it – but I wanted to keep art and business mostly separate, for my sanity. Putting my music out there for free has been an enormous boost to my fanbase. I have no doubts I’d still be a complete unknown if I’d tried to follow the old model.

        With CC, and specifically CC-BY, the only restriction is that people need to list me in the credits to use my music. This is *huge* for me, especially on YouTube, where partners need to use legal music, and they don’t know how to play the traditional licensing game for the most part. From one single video last year, I got 1,500 new subscribers to my channel in a week and a ton of new fans. Another had a viral video with one of my songs as the only audio, and has racked up 10,000,000 views so far. Thousands of other videos have used my music, as well. All because my music was out there and legally accessible to them.

        A tiny portion of music fans are still willing to support the artists they enjoy, and despite my music being free, I have enough total listeners to where I’m making a respectable amount of money through CD sales and downloads from that tiny percent.

        As far as your concerns, someone could take my music, and do anything they want to it – as long as visible attribution (in the format I specifiy) is given to me for anything the end product is used in. So in your example, this would be illegal, because the end result (a TV placement) would not give the needed attribution. Many/most CC artists use the NonCommercial clause to prevent “shady” situations, but honestly, my experience is that the benefits of CC-BY far outweigh the risks, and that someone who’s going to do something bad with your music probably doesn’t care about the license.

        • Hi Josh,

          Thanks for the detailed explanation.

          I think it’s important to note that you are an artist / singer songwriter.
          I don’t know how, or if , the Creative Commons model would work for library writers.

          The most obvious difference is that we are generally not seeking a fan base in the way that you are.

          It’s an interesting concept though.

          And congrats on your success!

          _MIchael

    • Josh, I fully understand why you would not want to be a part of a PRO. As the contract fine print can be very limiting and unless you have a significant income from a PRO then the contractual obligations may be more harmful than helpful. For example Some PRO’s do not allow direct licensing, Most non-american PRO’s take away your right to collect (or not collect) for royalties on your own behalf, Some PRO’s will not properly collect for royalties in certain jurisdictions, Some PRO’s will not allow you to end your contract at all (lifelong commitment) and most others have a 2-3 year (auto-renewing) commitment.

      For some I agree it can be more beneficial to go non-PRO. There are plenty of music services that will licence your music if you are accepted. A few of them work specifically with non-PRO artists such as Partners In Rhyme, & iStockphoto.

      Congrats on leaving the traditional market behind, there are many dark secrets in the PRO world that on the surface look very attractive to artists; Especially some European PRO’s…

  14. I’m preparing to copyright a collection of pieces, registering the compositions together with the sound recordngs. However, there are a couple pieces I would like to include that I might want to tweak a bit in the future.

    I wonder if someone could enlighten me about how much can be changed before it’s necessary to re-register the sound recording. I realize that it would be required for significant changes, such as changing the instrumentation. But I’m wondering about things like tweaking the mix, e.g. altering the panning, adjusting the eq on competing instruments, or replacing one sampled bass or piano with another.

    Also, how much does it actually matter? I’m sure the important thing is that the composition itself is registered. But if I submit a piece to a library, and the recording is slightly different from the one I registered, could someone else copyright the recording and claim to own the master?

    Thanks for your help.

    • “wonder if someone could enlighten me about how much can be changed before it’s necessary to re-register the sound recording. ”

      I’m no expert but I called with that same question back in the 90’s and was told slight changes are fine –

      “Also, how much does it actually matter? I’m sure the important thing is that the composition itself is registered. But if I submit a piece to a library, and the recording is slightly different from the one I registered, could someone else copyright the recording and claim to own the master?”

      the important thing {in my opinion} is that the composition is registered – you can drive your self crazy with all the what if’s – it’s pretty rare that a song is stolen these days – besides how would someone know what the version you registered sounded like ?

      I used to get concerned about stuff like that {many years ago} and realized it’s just a waste of time & energy – write,submit & forget –
      john

    • Always be aware that people can take tour music. If they feel they can use it to make money.
      I have ISRC codes on all my music that is in the public so if it is used I know. People do take your music to use for commercial purposes. It has happened to me, but not in quite a while. Especially in Europe they think that you do not know what is going on. The old saying “C.Y.A.”- {Cover your Ass.}

      • ISRC codes are not embedded into the music, they are written onto a CD. How does that help with music distributed via download or submitted via mp3?

        • There are some Music Libraries that ask for ISRC Codes & PRO’s such as ASCAP also do.
          And some Digital Download Sites in addition ask for the codes. And, depending on the program you use to burn your music or reference it they too imbed the codes. It just takes a bit of research to find who, what & where they ask for the codes.

  15. Hi there!
    Can anybody tell how much will cost to license the music track for video-template distribution? (just saw the project on free-lance site in which the guy offered 65usd for such license – thought it may be for single-use, but not for mass-production).
    Thanks in advance!

    PS: and thanks MichaelL and Bren for my prev post comments!

  16. I am seeking a format to upload my copyrights so as to keep my costs down. can anyone assist me in a proper way to save money to load 10-15 tunes so I do not need to pay the full amount for each tune?? Any help is much appreciated.

    • Hey Jay, Go back through the comments here and read up on the pros and cons of copyrighting as a “collection”.

      • What Art said..and i’m pretty sure it’s the SR form you need – the online registration is the way to go,the great thing about it (besides the one fee) is that particular registration is open for 30 days after you pay – so if inspiration strikes during that period you can add it @ no extra charge – check the copyright office for all specifics though as i’m no expert 🙂

        • Use the PA form if it’s just music and/or lyrics you are copyrighting, not an actual sound recording.

          Use the SR form to copyright a sound recording. However, you can copyright music, lyrics, AND sound recording all on the SR form so you do not have to file both a PA and SR if you have the acutal recording you will be pitching and haven’t yet done the music and lyrics.

          You can get plenty of info by checking with the copyright office.

          🙂

    • It use to be, you could copyright a “batch” of music under one title. You only need to pay one submission fee, while listing all the other titles underneath…perhaps keeping record of all your titles yourself.

  17. Anybody having trouble lately uploading mp3s to the copyright office for copyright?
    I never had a problem till now when no matter what time of day I try, it times out and just spins until the connect is lost. Every page is about as bad loading as BMI. I woudn’t think it’s me since I don’t have that problem with everything. May have to go back to mailing them in.

  18. Getting Going says:

    Wondering if anyone has any ideas about this one. I write songs and use the services of a freelance audio engineer who I pay by the hour when invoiced. Generally i’ll strum the tune and he’ll draw up a basic drum beat in Cubase to record to.

    Most of the time this sequenced drum beat is kept in the mixed track often with some embelishments in places verse/chorus etc. He operates the machine, i’ll play in the parts (guitars, keyboards, vocals etc).

    I had assumed that since I played and composed all the music parts, and payed for his engineering services, that i’d own all the rights to the songs. Is this right?

    It’s just that having read a contract for a music library recently it stated that it needed details of all contributors to a song and included engineers that may have contributed. Does the fact that the engineer drew in some drum beats into the sequencer and operated the recording machine while I performed the music parts constitute some element of contribution (in terms of copyright/ownership or performance) to the song?

    Has anyone any ideas? Plus has anyone got a sample contract for such a situation – is it neccessary?

    I read mixed messages in the few places where I find info on this – i’m in the UK so would the answer be the same as in the US (i.e. different rules and types of collection societies in terms of Composers/Master Owners/Performers).

    Be great if someone could provide the definitive response – thanks in advance

    • You should have your guy sign a work-for-hire, master release form. This would say [paraphrase, not legal language] that he performed his services as work-for-hire for a fee of $X and that you unconditionally own all rights to the master recording to exploit in any way, forever. No additional fees or royalties are due him.

      WHENEVER you use hired folks to work on your recording, this is a must for film/TV. It’s not usually needed for engineering/mix work but if you have any concern that it crosses over into the peformance area (such as creating beats), you should get this signed.

      In theory, you shouldn’t even enter any library or master/sync contract without having signed WFH agreements (if applicable). Those contracts all have you attest that you own all rights to your recording and are 100% liable for claims and damages.

      😉

      • Getting Going says:

        Thanks, if anyone out there has a suitable Works-For-Hire agreement template that is valid for both the UK and USA that would be appreciated.

        • John (the other John) says:

          It’s an older, but goody. You may have to alter a line or two to fit your situation.

          Release Form

          With respect to your recording of the composition (s) and other material entitled:
          The Song(s):

          ________________________________________

          I hereby agree:

          All such master recordings and all records/CD’s and reproductions made here from, together with my performances embodied therein, are your property, free of any claims whatsoever by me or any person deriving any rights or interests from me, without limitation of the foregoing. You shall have the right to make records or other reproductions of the performances embodied in such recordings by any method now or hereafter known, and to sell and deal in the same manner under any trademarks or trade names or labels designated by you, or you may at your election refrain therefrom. I hereby waive any and all rights whatsoever in connection with the master recording(s) hereunder and the records, including any and all royalties or other payments in connection with the sales of the records.

          Acknowledgment of this agreement is hereby confirmed by my signature: ___________________________________

          Name: __________________________________________

          Address: __________________________________________

          City, State, Zip: _____________________________________

  19. Hello, there!
    I was offered to write some music stuff for a short indie film (~10min) but as a reward – only credits (low-budget project).
    Is there an other options with this kind of situations the music composer can earn some $$$?
    Is it common to industry to share with composer the future incomes (royalties) generated from film’s exploitation?
    If so – what are the typical splits (for exclusive and non-exclusive rights transfer)?

    PS: I heard that the composer’s fee in WFH contract is about 5-10% from budget – but mine film has zero-budget.

    Thanks in advance!

    • @Dmytro where do you live? The laws may different.

      **This is NOT to legal advice and I DO NOT represent you in this or any other matter**

      In my opinion, what you are doing is not work for hire. There are a number of criteria that must be met to be a WFH, and providing a free score isn’t one of them. In the US, if there is no writing/contract that transfers copyright ownership from you the the film company, then the film company has what is called an implied non-exclusive license.

      If I was doing the score, I would make it clear that I retain copyright ownership and publishing rights to the music. That way I could use it again or publish it as library music.

      You need a lawyer or agent to negotiate for you.

    • Dmytro,

      In my experience with low budget independent films, there is NEVER any “back end” profit. I would never agree to work on a film based on the producer’s hopes and dreams for a film distribution deal. If you want money for your film music, get paid up front, when you give the producer your music and a non-exclusive license to synch your music to his film.

  20. Hello all,

    Excuse me please, for the newbie question, but it will be very nice if someone clears this for me:

    What is the most fare and correct way to split the license fees (no PRO generated) between two writes A and B, with PRO shares 75/25%, when B has played, arranged, produced, mixed and mastered the tracks? A has only sung lead and/or backup vocals on the songs.

    Best regards.

    PS: Many thanks to Art for his great idea with this place, for putting it together and keeping it updated. Thanks also to all regulars and for there comments here.

    • As far as I’m concerned the only fair split is 50 / 50. I work with a vocalist co-writer occasionally and thats our regular split. The tracks in question simply wouldn’t work without her input and vocal ability.

      So if you want to be fair, just do a split that way. Works for me.

  21. Hello there!
    I have the question about the Performer’s and Master Rights.

    I made an orchestral arrangement of classic public domain composition (aria – without voice – underscore) and the client does not want if I will be selling (licensing) this instrumental on my own.
    He want to record a vocal and to exploit the new composition (instr+vox) exclusively.
    In other words he want to gain my Performer’s Rights and the Master Rights in exchange for percentage of future income.
    Which royalty split can be in this case (industry standart, etc…).
    Or how much it will cost to transfer my rights completely (with no future royalties – buyout)?

    Thanks in advance!

    • John (the other John) says:

      Hmm… maybe MichaelL will fill in the gaps.

      My take on it:
      It sounds like it’s a co-arranging situation. In which case you would each claim 50% royalties from your PRO. The “exclusive” part would be an issue both of you must be in agreement with.

    • Hi Dmytro,

      My standard disclaimer applies. I do not represent you and this is not to be considered legal advice.

      I’m not sure what your agreement is with your client. Are they participating in the creation of this music in any way, financially or creatively? If not, why give anything away?

      You certainly should not share any of your writers royalties, unless your client or another writer is participating, such as providing new lyrics for the aria.

      If they are not participating in the creative end, I would only give them a portion of the publishing, perhaps proportionate to each parties investment.

      Are they paying for the recording and the singers etc.?

      • John (the other John) says:

        MichaelL,

        But… if the client is providing the vocal, then I would consider the client part creator of the sound recording. Though neither would be the writer, rather the arranger since it’s a public domain work.

      • Thanks a lot for your comments, John and Michael!
        Some clarifyings:
        The client will perform vocals, record and produce new composition including my orchestral arrangement (which is made completely by me with no third party participation).
        And there is no new lyrics or music etc… – this is the classic compostition (historical) with no changes (it is Aria from Eugene Onegin opera of P.I.Tchaikovsky – can be listened on my page if interessing).

        I can’t get how Writer’s and Publisher’s shares correlates with Arranger’s, Performer’s and Master rights/shares?
        Does Writer’s or Publisher’s share consist of Arr, Perf and Master parts?
        And logicaly, if I want to evaluate Writer’s (Publisher’s) share I have to keep in mind how much participation was taken in Perf, Arr and Master (producing the phonogram) stages?

        Sorry for noob questions but is realy complicated and I am realy thankful for yours comments!

        PS: Also, can you recommend a book about the music royalties, deals, rights, legal aspects etc (I mean The Essential Book Ever!)

        • Get Donald S Passman’s Book All you need to know about the music business
          Some people even refer to it as the “bible” you should also get Music Money and Success by

          The Brabec Brothers

  22. FYI,

    I read an interesting article regarding Creative Commons works. It talked a bit about copyrights and such. Here is the link: http://ascap.com/playback/2007/fall/features/creative_commons_licensing.aspx

    • Oh wow 🙂 This is good information regarding Creative Commons. And it is from a respectable source. I think I will err on the side of caution when it comes to attaching a “CC” to any of my work.

      It just seems to me that the Creative Commons license limits the oroiginal creator of the work more than it would limit anybody that used the work. In my eyes, either the work is owned by one entity or it is a part of the public domain. I do not see how someone could have limited rights to their own work unless they transferred their rights to someone else.

  23. To EDDY-L; I wasn’t intending to bite your head off. My apologies. I guess it comes down to semantics. I did not aim the last comment towards you. I am not sure what “THE DICTATOR” meant by calling me Fidel, I must assume it was just a stab back at me???(although I did grow up in Miami & I did live in Cuba as a very young Irish born child before Castro took over). I certainly have not stated the most ridiculous comments here.
    I am a Published Composer, & a Publisher of Written Works. I am not an expert on “all” but who is? You are right, the small people are “small people” in the Court System. I have had my music used without my permission, so, I know how that issue feels to a Creative.
    IMO Lawyers are a necessary evil, at least in America. Living in the U.K I saw the difference between “Barristers”(U.K Term) & “Attorneys”(U.S. Term).

  24. Thanks Michael.

  25. I am new to this business, and have a question about PRO organisations,
    Knowing that there are a lot of PRO organisations out there, I was wondering which one to choose.
    Let’s say I would like to submit my music to multiple non-exclusive stock libraries. Most of them are focused on the United States.
    I live in the Netherlands, and here we have the organisation called BUMA.

    What would be the smart thing to do? Going for a US based organisation like ASCAP or BMI, or stay close to home and go with BUMA?

    Thank you in advance,

    Nick

  26. I’m in Australia and according to the Government website here there is not need to register (or pay) for a work to be copyrighted,but does that copyright cover just here(and probably NZ we’re much the same just better at sport).
    -from their website-
    No registration of copyright
    Although it seems surprising, there is no registration of copyright in Australia or in most other countries. You
    do not register copyright, or go through any formal process, before your material is protected by copyright under
    Australian law.
    http://www.copyright.org.au/

    Would I need to copyright the same track in the US as well or UK for that matter,if I places a track.This site says no but some of you guys seem to think its a good idea.

  27. Hi Franceaux,

    I’m going to give you the standard disclaimer. I do not represent you in this or any other matter, and my opinion should not be construed as legal advice.

    You may be able to get out of the contract, under certain circumstance. There are two sides to every contract, and each side has to perform their end of the bargain. I do not have your contract in front of me. But there should be a component of the contract identified as “consideration.” For example: “in consideration of $1,000 advance … publisher X has exclusive rights to Franceaux’s song for an indefinite period of time. Or perhaps publisher X agrees to use its best efforts to have Franceaux’s song cut in exchange for X% of the publishing revenue. In other words, the publisher had to give you something in exchange for your exclusive contract.

    What did you get from the publishing company in exchange for them holding on to your song for so many years? If you did not receive an advance and the publisher has not used its best efforts to have your song “cut,” then in theory it has not lived up to its end of the bargain, and has breached the contract.

    You need a lawyer to read your contract, to determine whether the publisher has lived up to its end of the bargain.

    Good luck.

    Best,

    Michael

    • MICHAELl,

      The publisher claims he has pitched the song over the years, but it’s his word against mine, I suppose. There was no advance upon signing the agreement, other than the standard $1.00 in many contracts which is never paid.

      This publisher has had several national cuts by well-known artists (3 by George Strait)
      So, maybe I haven’t waited long enough, As of this moment it has been 17 years. I guess he still thinks it has a chance.

      Thanks for your insight.

      • John (the other John) says:

        Just write some more potential hits franceaux! Then spread ’em around like manure and hope something sprouts up. 😀

      • 17 years is a LONG time to let something sit. Something doesn’t add up. IMHO.

      • Once have a publisher who gave me a guild single song contract with a reversion clause. He said if he can’t get a song published in the first couple 3 years, it most likely won’t happen.

  28. The day I see a group of Lawyers agree on something, Hell will probably have frozen over. With all due respect to those in the Legal Practice. In my Exp. in the Courts, the Judge makes the final ruling on the interpretation of a “LAW”. the Legal Guys just argue the point.
    I just want a Good Agent to help me make some Good Money…….. any referral would be appreciated. Oh, that’s right, Hell has Frozen Over, the EAGLES have been touring for years now.

    • A lawyer and an agent walk into a bar…..

      Agents don’t actually get you work. They negotiate the deal once it’s been offered.

      For more on agent frustration check out this thread.

      http://vi-control.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18158&sid=2cc731e8e6dbb77815dd67c582d07baf

      • Absolutely on point.

        “we cant get you work, we can barely get work for our top guys, but we’d be happy to help you negotiate a deal if you land something yourself”

        Waste of time….

      • John (the other John) says:

        A man phones a lawyer and asks, “How much would you charge for just answering three simple questions?”
        The lawyer replies, “A thousand dollars.”
        “A thousand dollars!” exclaims the man. “That’s very expensive isn’t it?”
        “It certainly is,” says the lawyer. “Now, what’s your third question?”

  29. A couple of points…

    Titles are not copyrighted, works are. In case this wasn’t clear, re-titling for purposes of non-exclusive PRO royalty collection has nothing to do with the actual copyright. A non-exclusive re-title contract should not say you assign copyright, just that the library has permission to register re-titles and collect the publisher’s share of PRO.

    I disagree that you shouldn’t copyright works as a collection. It is absolutely worth the money saved. If you do sign an exclusive publishing contract on a song, most publishers don’t even bother with the actual copyright paperwork unless they actually make a placement. Remember, it cost THEM money. And even when they make a placement, they don’t always do it. They simply use the permission you gave them to do the proper registrations and administer any royalties. In the event the publisher wanted to truly transfer the copyright, they could have you file an ammendment removing that work from the collection and they would file a new copyright.

    So let’s say you have 12 tracks. As a collection, $35… One by one, $420 ($385 more). The odds that you’ll ever have to change anything are very small and if you really had to, a single ammendment cost about $100.

    Deciding not to file as collections early on in anticipation of what might never happen is not very cost effective.

  30. Thanks guys for your responses.

    I think I’m starting to understand. Just to confirm: Is it a good idea NOT to register copyrights on any tracks I am submitting to libraries?

    Also, when a library places one of my tracks, is it my responsibility to register that track with my PRO?

    • I never hear of it not being a good idea to copyright your songs. I think the point was being made that there are pitfalls to copyrighting music as a collection in order to save money as opposed to copyrighting each individual song in that you are essentially assigning rights to every song in that collection as it pertains to publishing rights from what I make of it. I copyright every song before I submit it.
      Any infringement won’t apply if your song isn’t copyrighted when the infringement occurs so why would it be a good idea not to copyright it before handing it over to a library?
      Just spend the money on a copyright and don’t even look back.

      • Hey Pat, I see what you’re saying, and it makes perfect sense. Doesn’t it get expensive though ($35/song if registered online)?

        When a library accepts your track, do you transfer the copyright to them?

        • John (the other John) says:

          10 songs at $35 = $350
          100 songs at $35 = $3,500
          1,000 songs at $35 = $15,000

          Wonder who is making money in the Music Industry?

          • I try not to think about it. Makes my stomach hurt.

            • Hi Pat,

              I feel your pain. However, you’re swimming in a very diverse and crowded pool.

              A lot of people take this business very seriously. They’ve invested thousands of dollars in studios, websites, marketing, copyrights and lawyers, etc. Some are doing this part-time to make extra cash, and to keep making music. Some writers, do it by ear, others have degrees in composition.

              So yes, it’s a scary and competitive proposition. But, my mentor told me years, it’s a game of quantity. Write a lot of tracks.

          • Hi John (the other John). 1000 tracks at $35 = $35,000.

            However….if you have just 10 tracks out there, maybe $350 looks like a lot of money, because you’re not making much.

            But if you have 100 tracks, maybe $3,500 isn’t so big an investment.

            If you have 1000 tracks, perhaps the income would justify the expense. Moreover, I think that you would know, long before you get to 1000 tracks, whether or not you’re making any money.

        • No, you do not necessarily transfer your copyright, especially under the retitle model.

          However, when an exclusive library pays you to write a track for them, it may be considered a “work for hire,” in which case they own the copyright.

          HOWEVER — under the copyright law it MUST state in the contract that it is a work for hire. or it is not, unless you are an employee of the company.

    • Danny,

      Michael the lawyer here. I would never send my tracks to anyone without copyrighting them FIRST.

      The choice you have is 1) individual copyrights @ $35 per online, or 2) the folio route, which as discussed before has limits regarding publishing, because essentially all of t he tracks in a folio are considered to be part of one work.

      AND no, your are not necessarily giving your copyright to the library, unless that is the contract that you enter into. You may just be allowing the library to act as your publisher.

      • Thanks for the information,MichaelL. I was getting ready to copyright a number of pieces as a collection when I came across this discussion.

        At this point I’m just submitting to non-exclusive libraries, but I would hate to have disqualified some of my work from a potentially lucrative exclusive deal, should one present itself. I’m wondering if it would make sense to copyright the musical compositions but not the sound recordings, since it’s the recording that’s being licensed. If an exclusive deal were offered, the recording could then be copyrighted by itself.

        I realize that I could be wrong about this, but I thought that publishing had to do with the PRO, not the copyright. Isn’t that how non-exclusive libraries work – they give the piece a new title and register with the PRO as the publisher for the piece with that title? Can’t the same thing be done by someone who wants to license the piece exclusively, provided that the same piece is not available for licensing elsewhere? (If I’m correct about this, then I guess it wouldn’t matter if the recording is copyrighted with the composition.)

        • Hi Tim,

          You’re asking a question which will ultimately lead to the whole exclusive v. non-exclusive discussion which has been debated ad nauseum elsewhere in this forum.

          Yes, PROs are about publishing. The non-exclusives register the same composition with your PRO under different titles. The non-exclusives have no owership interest in your copyright — YOU DO.

          The exclusive libraries, however, pay you a fee upfront, and then generally you assign your copyright to that library, or it’s a work for hire and the copyright is never yours.

          I some instantances you cannot even use that composition for your own purposes. Here’s an old article about a composer who was sued for using his composition in HIS website, for promotional purposes. I don’t know how the case turned out. http://www.filmmusicmag.com/?p=270

          You’ll have to decide for yourself what “lucrative” is. Some people might think $500 is enough to sell their copyright, others a $1,000. However, those deals appear to be few and far between now. How much money might you make going the non-exclusive route, while you’re waiting for lightning to strike?

          • Thanks for posting that MichaelL. Excellent post and timely. Just so happens I just posted a question on the MusicSupervisor site asking if I remove a song from their site can I then submit it to an exclusive library free and clear with no potential for “issues” arising later.
            Specifically, I wanted to try and get accepted into Premiumbeats where I could make some money to sustain me while composing other music for non exclusive. Just happens that one of the songs I have at Music supervisor would be good to submit as my third sample.
            I do different styles of music but the rock pieces I can do the fastest so I was hoping I could include a rock piece I have at MusicSupervisor. It hasn’t been downloaded licensed yet or anything.

        • I don’t know if everyone is aware of this but you can copyright both a composition and the sound recording at one time for one fee on the SR form. That’s the best way to go in many cases.

          There is way too much concern on MLR threads (IMO) about how various ways of copyrighting your work can affect what types of deals you can do in the future. Copyright registration (e.g. US Copyright Office) and PRO registration (ASCAP, BMI, etc) are different entities tied together only by the fact that when you PRO register you attest that you are authorized to do so. Sometimes I think there may be folks confused about the difference between these things.

          Copyrights can be ammended, changed, etc. (wth a reasonably valid reason) so there is nothing you can do in a copyright registration that will permanently disallow any use. If you sign a song to a 3 year non-exclusive and then want to enter an exclusive, the problem is NOT the copyright registration, it’s the non-exclusive contact. You need to get out of the non-exclusive contract to sign the exclusive one. A copyright can be changed if needed.

          One can definitely argue that copyright and PRO registration should be much more closely tied together, eliminating the re-title method. But as of now, that’s not the case and it’s a different discussion.

          When writing for film/TV copyrighting the sound recording is a big component since that is part of what gets licensed, though the composition should also be copyrighted. (That is, if you are going to bother copyrighting at all).

          MANY composers don’t even do copyright registrations. I’m not saying one should or shouldn’t. Keep in mind that having your work stolen is rare. A copyright registration only has value if you ever intend to sue someone for infringement. That can be a long, expensive legal mess that many would never get into anyway.

          Legal discalimer: I am not a laywer (though I play one on MLR) 😉

          • Hey anonX,

            MichaelL — the lawyer here. You make many valid points. I wasn’t going to mention that I know several composers who never bother with copyrights.

            As you point out, “A copyright registration only has value if you ever intend to sue someone for infringement. That can be a long, expensive legal mess that many would never get into anyway.”

            I will add the following: copyright infringement suits are filed in federal court. The jurisdictional threshold is $75,000. In other words, you must claim 75K worth of damages to even get into court. It is the rare library track that generates that kind of $$$.

            So…before you even get to the “long, expensive legal mess,” you need a lot of damages.

            • John (the other John) says:

              If this is true MichaelL, then there is not point in most (maybe all) of us here registering a copyright.

              • Hi John (the other John),

                I would never recommend that you not register your copyrights.

                I would not send my own material anywhere, or even post it on my website, without protecting it.

                You never know what the ultimate value of your work will be.

                Michael

            • Thanks MichaelL. It’s helpful to have a real lawyer make sure the information presented here is correct. Appreciate you’re input!

              🙂

              • Hi anonX,

                My opinions should not substitute for consulting with one’s own attorney.

                I try to jump in when I see something glaring, that can harm my fellow composers — like the “poor man’s” copyright.

                This link is a good place to look for answers http://www.copyright.gov/

                Michael

                • MichaelL,
                  Since you are a lawyer perhaps you wouldn’t mind answering this for me.

                  If you have a song under contract to a publisher….for years and years….without a reversion clause, what is the best way of getting it released back to me. Is their any legal way?
                  I’ve gone the “please” route without success. I was told that they still had faith in the song eventually being cut, so it was still an important composition. But, after awhile it stands to reason that the song doesn’t fit the trend it was originally written for.

                  Anyone else have this problem?? Thanks.

            • That does not seem legitimate. Record companies sue people for sampling songs or downloading music even if there was no financial incentive.

              A copyright is a form of intellectual property. Microsoft can sue someone for using an illegal copy of Windows software, even if the person was given a second hand computer with the software pre-installed.

              Also, people can be sued for copying a quote from a news article without stating where the source originated from. There are many legal ramifications and issues resulting in what constitutes “fair use” and what constitutes theft of intellectual property.

              The real issue is that most small composers do not have enough money or time to put up a valid legal fight, even if their material was blatantly misused. Many companies will blatantly misuse intellectual property and just pay a fine for misuse. Companies often steal ideas on purpose because they can make a boatload of cash and only pay a small fraction of the profits generated.

              The end user of a piece of intellectual property is always responsible for the proper use of the material.

              • Eddy L said 28, Oct.; “A copyright is a form of intellectual property”. A COPYRIGHT is the registration of a piece of intellectual property in the U.S. Library Of Congress or, the originating Country. A Copyright “holds” a work of Intellectual Work.
                If a person/company/business hears a piece of music, etc. and has a use themselves where they can make money with it, they most likely will make an attempt to “steal it”. If they are not an Honest, Good Person.
                The Legal definition of COPYRIGHT is;{The Legal Right to exclude others, for a limited time, from copying,selling,performing,displaying, or making derivative versions of a work of authorship” }( From The Lawyers Cooperative Publishing- approved by the Library Of Congress.”)
                You do not have to state who the owner of a copyright is, if you quote something, but, it is “Morally Right” & polite to acknowledge the entity who originated the property.
                It is not a Legal issue unless you imply the object is “yours”.
                Sometimes this thread is very disappointing by such annoying comments by people who assume they are experts, IMO they should just keep quiet or be embarrassed by inept comments. I am sorry, but, this is America, freedom of speech. But, your speech should be accurate.

                • No need to bite my head off. I never claimed to be an expert. I just go off of experience and knowledge that was passed down to me.

                  • @ Eddy

                    I’m not going to bite your head off, but I am a lawyer.

                    When you were a kid, did you ever play the game whispering down the lane? The problem is that by the time the information gets to you it is incorrect. So depending upon who passed what down to you from how ever many sources, it sounds like you’ve pieced together a half true understanding of copyrights.

                    Copyright law is very nuanced. What IS infringement in one case may not be in another depending upon the use.

                    I do not know the context of your original post, so I cannot address the issue. But, suffice it to say You may be swimming in deep waters with only half truths as a life preserver.

                • “Sometimes this thread is very disappointing by such annoying comments by people who assume they are experts, IMO they should just keep quiet” – Jason Bush

                  Well said Fidel Bush. 😀

                  • Inaccurate comments are not just annoying, they are potentially harmful.

                    • John (the other John) says:

                      The World is full of imperfections and inaccuracies. Even the so called experts disagree on mostly everything (lawyers no exception).

                      I prefer not to have my information filtered by anyone – especially people with a hidden agenda (as in the case of the digital fingerprinting issue).

                      Let the info flow freely and let the individual determine for him/herself the accuracies & inaccuracies.

                      Potentially harmful? Better than intentionally harmful through censorship.

              • @Eddy

                Ok I found the post at issue and yes it is a mishmash of ideas.

                There is such a thing as “fair use,” which can be raised as a defense to infringement. Such uses might include things like criticism, commentary, news reporting, education, scholarship and/or research.

                Courts consider four factors including: 1) the purpose and character of the use, 2) the nature of the copyrighted work, 3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used….and 4) the effect of the use on the potential market for and/or value of the copyrighted work.

                The purpose and character of the use, would among other things address whether or not the use is of a commercial nature etc.

                As far as the little guy not having the money to sue, if you have a strong enough case you could probably find a lawyer to handle it on a contingency basis. The real issue is whether or not you meet the 75K damages threshold. If not, you cannot get into federal court anyway.

                Stop worrying about hypothetical legal issues. Get back to writing music.

                Cheers.

                Michael

  31. I have been studying composition for visual media for the past few years, and as I’m coming to the end of my education, I’m thinking library work would be a good way to get my feet wet, especially as I plan on having a day job for the first few years out of college. This site is a fantastic resource for someone like me, so thanks to the webmaster Art for putting this together!

    I’ve got many questions, and I’ve been reading books, reading up on this site (including this page), talking to professors, talking to composer friends, etc. One of the things I’m still confused about is the issue of copyright.

    How do copyrights work when dealing with libraries? From what I understand, when I create a piece of music, I immediately own the copyright to that music and that recording of it. When I submit that track to a library and it is accepted, am I entering an agreement that gives them ownership of the copyrights to the music and recording?

    Thanks guys, your input is greatly appreciated!

    • John (the other John) says:

      As far as copyrights go Danny (actually registration), this is the best explanation I’ve found. It was posted on another site by a music attorney:

      “There is no such thing as a “poor man’s copyright.” It does not exist in law. Under the current copyright law, you own the copyright in the work from the moment it is fixed in a tangible medium (sung onto a tape or CD, written down on a piece of paper, etc.) Make sure you have it fixed in a tangible medium before posting. While you could use the posting date in a lawsuit as some evidence of a prior date that you had the work to which someone else is claiming ownership, registration is prima facie proof of ownership – which means if someone else has registered it before you, you have an uphill battle in court because the Court must consider the registered owner to be the owner in fact (until you can convince the Court otherwise by sufficient proof). In addition, as stated above, you must register the work before you can take legal action, which means that you forfeit any statutory damages to which you would be entitled if the infringement occurs before the registration. The bottom line is that you should, at the very least, send in for the registration before you post. “

      • I am an attorney, although I do not practice. So, I’m going to say something typically lawyerish — this is not legal advice, and I do not represent you in any matter.

        Danny – you are correct in that you have an immediate copyright. However, it is of little value in litigation.

        John (the other John) is also correct. There is no such thing as a “poor man’s copyright.” Copyrights are governed by federal law. A lawsuit for copyright infringement is filed in federal court. You cannot file an infringement suit in federal court if you have not registered your copyright. A registered copyright is your ticket to federal court.

        Some people work around the expense by copyrighting multiple works as a suite or in folios. Doing so has its limits in that you cannot split portions of the suite or folio among different publishers. So… if exclusive library A wants track #1 of your folio and exclusive library B wants track # 2, in theory the whole folio belongs to whoever you give the first track to, because the sutie or folio is one work, no matter how many parts it has.. Given the retitling model that so many are participating in — it gets dicey.

        For more info, here’s a brief article from a law professor : http://ipwatchdog.com/copyright/

        • John (the other John) says:

          Thanks Michael. I never thought about the ramifications of registering multiple works as a collection. Interesting.

          • However, that said….. again NOT LEGAL ADVICE.

            If you are selling/licensing music thorough sites that only act as licensing agents and that do not take any publishing, AND you are acting as the sole publisher of your works, AND you do not anticipate EVER having those works published by another publisher, it may make sense to go the suite/folio route.

        • John (the other John) says:

          “Some people work around the expense by copyrighting multiple works as a suite or in folios. Doing so has its limits in that you cannot split portions of the suite or folio among different publishers” – MichaelL

          Totally wrong!!! I check this out with an entertainment lawyer and was told as long as the divisions (portions) of the “suite” were clearly designated (separate titles) each part in the “multiple copyright” can be used with different (exclusive) publishers.

          • John (the other John) says:

            I’m bumping this up because I think it’s important to let composers know there are no limitations in copyrighting multiple works in a collection (suite). Saves a lot of money and can be used in the same manner as a single song copyright registration.

            • You can copyright multiple works in one registration where there is split ownership, however the split ownership parties have to be the same for all works in the collection.

              So if I co-wrote song A with party X and song B with party Y, I could not copyright them in the same collection.

              • John (the other John) says:

                Yes, though that’s a different aspect of multiple song registration AnonX. That has more to do with filling out the application.

                • You lost me…. How do you copyright anything without filling out the application? I’m not following you here. It’s one form/one fee per registration whether it’s a single work or a collection but there is that restriction regarding what can be in a collection.

                  • John (the other John) says:

                    This was the issue I was relating to:

                    “Some people work around the expense by copyrighting multiple works as a suite or in folios. Doing so has its limits in that you cannot split portions of the suite or folio among different publishers” – MichaelL

                    This was false info anonX. You can split portions of the suite/folio among different publishers.

                    Read back a little further and you’ll understand my reply to you.

                    • That’s good to know

                    • Once again…this IS NOT “false info”

                      Please refer to this link http://www.copyright.gov/eco/help-type.html

                      “Collection of Unpublished Works: Registration of Multiple Unpublished Works as a Single Claim
                      To register a number of unpublished works with a single application and fee, they must be grouped as a collection under a Collection Title and must meet the following requirements:

                      At least one author must have contributed to every work.

                      The ownership of every work in the collection must be the same. This means that the authors of each work must be the same or they must have transferred copyright to each other or to a common claimant. If there has been a transfer of ownership, the application must include a transfer statement on the claimant screen. If ownership of all the works to be registered is not the same, one or more separate applications are needed to register all the works. Each application requires a separate fee.”

                      The key requirment here is that the ownership of EVERY work in the collection must be the same. That is true if you are self publishing. However, if you want to split the unpublished folio among exclusive publishers, you may need to re-register the titles in question.

                      Potential problems will arise when different publishers start arguing over who owns which titles, when they both might claim ownership of the whole work / folio, because as the law requires, it have only one title.

                      Your attorney’s advice may be correct If the mutliple publishers have no ownership interest in the copyright. However, exclusive deals often involve transfer of copyright ownership. You can’t transfer a portion of a title. That’s like saying Random House, you can publish chapters 1 through 5 of my book, and Knopf you can publish chapter 6 through 10.

                      Perhaps you should ask your lawyer what the disadvantages of registering multiple titles as one work are. Or… call the copyright office (202) 707-3000 or 1-877-476-0778 (toll free) This is complicated stuff. It’s easy to get burned.

                      Michael

          • Hi John ( the other John),

            I just got back from a film festival, so I didn’t have a chance to respond earlier. “Totally wrong,” I’m affraid, is a bold conclusion, going out on a bit of a limb. Nothing is black & white in the law. AND entertainment law and intellectual property law are not the same thing.

            I AM a lawyer, and I disagree with your lawyer’s interpretation of the copyright law.
            Here are the appropriate comments from the copyright office. Read them and decide for yourself they’re it’s a greenlight to split a copyright among publishers. I don’t think so.

            “You may register unpublished works as a collection on one application with one title for the entire collection if certain conditions are met. It is not necessary to list the individual titles in your collection. Published works may only be registered as a collection if they were actually first published as a collection and if other requirements have been met. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Registration Procedures.”

            “Unpublished Collections
            Under the following conditions, a work may be registered
            in unpublished form as a “collection,” with one application
            form and one fee:
            – The elements of the collection are assembled in an
            orderly form;
            – The combined elements bear a single title identifying the
            collection as a whole;
            – The copyright claimant in all the elements and in the collection
            as a whole is the same; and
            – All the elements are by the same author, or, if they are by
            different authors, at least one of the authors has contributed
            copyrightable authorship to each element….
            An unpublished collection is not indexed under the
            individual titles of the contents but under the title of the
            collection.”

            The issue is going from the unpublished state to the published state. Can you split the folio? Maybe, but you may have to re-register the individual tracks(s) under their published titles.

            I’ll put in a call to the Copyright Office to get clarification. I’ll let you know what they.

            Michael

            • Here’s another lawyer’s spin. There are advantages AND disadvantages.

              http://patents101.com/2010/07/combine-multiple-works-single-copyright-application/

              My analyis was… there are advantages when self publishing. The potential disadvantages arise when you are not.

            • John (the other John) says:

              Michael,:

              The publishing issue isn’t really a consideration for the composer filing a multiple song registration (to protect his work) prior to the publishing of the composers work. Besides, I don’t know of any music libraries that take ownership of a composer’s copyright. Music libraries only license music.

              What you’re saying seems to be after the fact, i.e, registering works after being published, rather than prior to being published. Logically, copyright registration should be done prior to submitting work to publishers.

              • “Besides, I don’t know of any music libraries that take ownership of a composer’s copyright. Music libraries only license music”

                Here are several libraries that work on a copyright buyout basis with composers..

                Megatrax
                APM
                KPM
                Killer Tracks
                Extreme
                615
                Manhattan Production Music
                Opus 1 (sometimes)
                Firstcom
                Master Source

                Things would get super complicated if one of these libraries wanted to buy a track that you copyrighted in a folio of works. The legal fees trying to unravel the situation would probably eclipse the phat $1000/track budget of these libraries..

                Most of the time the libraries pay upfront for composers to make custom music, but they also actively buy copyrights of already composed material from time to time.

                I say go for the folio registration!

              • Hi John (the other John)

                I don’t mean to be disrespectful. However, as I said, I am a lawyer and a composer — not in that order, for longer than I care to mention– all in exclusive libraries. I ‘ve been filing my own copyrights since I was 15.

                As you may have observed there are two levels of copyright: one for unpublished works and one for published works. It gets deeper if you’re copyrighting the sound recording, as well as the underlying musical work.

                The reason why you want to copyright your unpublished works is because you are presumably sending your work out to many libraries before its is published.

                To be clear, we are talking about two different situations: 1) where you transfer ownership the copyright to the library, and 2) where the library takes no ownership, but takes a percentage of the publishing.

                Under the exclusive model, where you receive upfront money (see oontz oontz below), you will most likely be transferring ownership of your copyright to the library (this must be in writing). You are NOT merely licensing the work to them. You should not get this confused with an exclusive licensing deal, whihc may be of limited duration.

                Under the non-exclusive model, you do not, or should not transfer any ownership.

                The problem, as I tried to explain, is that a collection receives one registration number, it is one work. You cannot split that one “work” among different exclusives who want to to own your copyright. You are asking for trouble. It doesn’t matter that youve given each section of the work a different title. It is one work. You transfer the whole enchilada. Further, your deal with the exclusive will require that the copyrighted material is yours to transfer. You cannot do that if you’ve already transferred the copyright to another owner.

                Further, the law is designed to prevent the kind of work-around that you describe. In other words, the copyright office doesn’t want for you to copyright 10 unrealated tracks and call it a collection. When I’ve filed copyrights as a collection, all of the “songs” were published by the same entity as a collection, e.g. the “sports collection,” the cinema colection,” etc.

                OK — before digress too far. The issue is transfer of copyright ownership, which arises under the exclusive model, not merely publishing shares as under the non-exclusive model.

                That is why I said that you MIGHT limit yourself by copyrighting things as a collection.

                Michael

                • John (the other John) says:

                  Thanks Michael! It gets confusing when even lawyers disagree with each other.

                  Best, John

                  • “It gets confusing when even lawyers disagree with each other.”

                    That’s how lawyer’s stay in business. 😉

                    However, I would guess that if you explained to your lawyer that we’re talking about transferring copyright ownership to an exclusive library, not just publishing, he’d agree.

                    Best,

                    Michael

                    • John (the other John) says:

                      I think you may be right Michael.

                      After considering both lawyer’s info, I think you’re both basically on the same page. The multiple copyright can have disadvantages, but only when there’s a transfer of copyright ownership (which happens in more libraries than I was aware of).

                      John 🙂

                • “Further, the law is designed to prevent the kind of work-around that you describe. In other words, the copyright office doesn’t want for you to copyright 10 unrealated tracks and call it a collection.”

                  For what it’s worth, something that may contradict this:

                  My father was a retired minister who wrote hymn texts. He was constantly getting commisions, so he wrote quite a few and copyrighted them individually. One day he actually got a call from someone at the Copyright Office who noticed this and told him that he could save money by registering them in collections.

                  • Your father was copyrighting a collection of hymn texts. If he tried to copyright hymn texts and hip hop lyrics (assuming they weren’t hymns) on the same form he’d have a problem.

                    The collection needs to be a believable collection. If you tried to copyright your heavy metal / country / bagpipe / baroque / new age collection, there could be an issue.

                    Hymn texts is a believable collection.

                    • MichaelL:

                      Couldn’t there be an argument for allowing many types of music to be included in a collection? I write different types of tunes, but there is no way I could write an entire album worth of Flamenco music. I know a few composers that do about 3 songs per genre, and then move on to sort of spread their seed as far as the types of music they are offering.

                      Also, in the case of copyrighting a collection and placing songs within that collection in different exclusive libraries, I was wondering if you could clarify. Is this because the whole collection is copyrighted, therefore the entire collection would have to shift copyright ownership to the exclusive library, rather than each individual song?
                      That last sentence was a run-on mess, hope it makes sense.

                    • Hi Andy,

                      I understand what you’re question. Again, I am not your lawyer, so this is not to be construed as legal advice.

                      What I would do in that situation is copyright the 3 flamenco tracks as a collection OR, I would move on to some Asian tracks, then some Italian tracks etc. When I had enough tracks I would copyright the collection as a collection of “world music.”

                      What you’re trying to do is group like objects. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got apples, oranges and pears in the bag, they’re all fruit. When you mix apples, beans and broccoli, you’ve got fruit, legumes and vegetables.

                      So, 3 flamenco tracks, 3 heavy metal tracks and 3 jazz tracks is arguably not a collection.

                      With respect to an exclusive library, a collection is considered one work, like movements in a symphony, or chapters in a book. You cannot split the chapters among different exclusive libraries, without re-filing the copyright and splitting up the tracks under different registration numbers.

                      Best,

                      Michael

                    • Sorry..make that hi “Any”