Music

• Sep 9, 2016 - 20:21

Hello, Y'all. I have some 2 questions that I'm really trying to figure out.

1st one being: Say if a piece was copyrighted, and it says no reproducing or it is violating copyright law. If I reproduce it and license it under Creative Commons, is it still an infringement?

2nd question being: How do you number staves (look at this example):

http://pop-sheet-music.com/Files/9e7b1afa09dd99f07e64ecff5b7ce20d.pdf


Comments

I'll take a stab at answering the first question: no one can stop you from using MuseScore to make a transcription from any song. But if that song is copyrighted and you want to make your derived work available to the public, you need to have permissions from the right holder of the original song. In case the original song is in public domain or released into public domain, you can publish your work under any license you want. If the original work is released under a Creative Commons license, than check the modalities of that license to learn how you can should license your derived work and/or whether you can make it available to the public. For instance: if the original work is licensed under CC-by-nd, you will have to ask the right holder for permission to make your work available to the public.

Obviously, you cannot “license it” if you do not own it.   You have no authority to reproduce the song at all, let alone to issue it “under Creative Commons.”

What you should do is to contact the Performing Rights Organization (PRO) that manages the rights to the music, such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc.   Describe what you want to do and ask for [written ...] permission and guidance ... f-i-r-s-t.

PROs are actually very understanding of the needs of student composers. They know that people learn by re-arranging the works of great songwriters. They even understand that those composers want to share what they have done, e.g. for critique and so forth. But, as the owners (or, the administrators) of the works in question, they have a legal right to be informed and they must grant permission (or not).

- - - - -

If you do an adaptation of a public-domain work, the law says that you own your adaptation. Although public-domain Christmas carols have been done thousands of times, each composer owns his/her arrangement and each artist owns his/her recording of the work. They cannot prevent anyone else from coining their own adaptation of the same carol, as long as it does not rip-off their version.

In reply to by mrobinson

What you should do is to contact the Performing Rights Organization (PRO) that manages the rights to the music, such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, etc

You said this several times with confidence in different threads. Are you sure about that? Even if we are talking about reproducing sheet music or publishing sheet music arrangement of a copyrighted song heard on the radio? My understanding is that PROs will not grant permissions to anyone (students or not) for this particular use case because they can't, they don't own these rights nor do they administer them. They administer performance rights and this is it. If you are a member of such an organisation, you'd better know what you actually pay for...

  1. ASCAP cannot give permission to make arrangements or copies. From their website, ASCAP does not license the right to print copies of musical works nor does it license rights to make adaptations or arrangements.
  2. BMI does not license such things as the making of phonograph records or the printing of sheet music. Again from their own website
  3. Unfortunately, I can't find any statement on SESAC website but being a PRO like the two others I doubt they will be able to give permissions.

PRO are about public performances rights, and have probably nothing to do with sheet music. If you want to make sheet music for a copyrighted piece, you need the permissions of the right holders, being the composers or their right holders. I believe we should all (including myself...) refrain to give unsourced legal advices on this forum and not trust anyone on the internet giving legal advices including people claiming they know something about this giant mess. Instead, let's consult an actual lawyer or trustworthy sources.

In reply to by Nicolas

@Nicolas--True, a PRO might not administer all rights and permissions for a particular work, but they will know who does is, and this can sometimes be difficult for a private individual to determine. The PRO should also be able to provide a real address to get in contact with the rights owner. In the case of well-known popular musicians, that information can be very hard to come by otherwise.

Say if a piece was copyrighted, and it says no reproducing or it is violating copyright law. If I reproduce it and license it under Creative Commons, is it still an infringement?

With all due respect, I am having some trouble understanding how you have trouble figuring out this part: "it says no reproducing or it is violating copyright law. If I reproduce it and license it under Creative Commons, is it still an infringement".

The best I can do is say that there appears to be some really major misunderstanding about what 'creative commons' means.

'Creative Commons' is a term originally invented by people who do not agree that intellectual work should be considered as the legal property of its creator because they believe that all knowledge should be shared freely for the benefit of humanity as a whole. Over time, the 'creative commons copyright' has evolved into a number of different flavours, but whether one agrees with the basic philosophy or not is somewhat irrelevant, because the legal force of any creative commons 'license' falls entirely in the civil arena of law. In other words, so-called creative commons licenses are private contracts entered into by consenting individuals, and any complaint by one against any other can only be adjudged by a civil court.

The important thing to remember is that civil law does not, and cannot ever, take precedence over criminal law created by the legislators of sovereign states. If a person were to sign a contract with another person to perform an act which the legislature of that state had deemed illegal, no civil court judge could find that person in default of contract for having failed to perform that act. In everyday terms, if you were to sign a contract with your girlfriend to murder her husband so she could marry you, and then failed to do so, no civil court could hold you liable for damages if you failed to kill the man as agreed. A contract which contravenes criminal law is null and void and without force.

Legislated copyright law recognises and defines ownership of intellectual property by individuals according to various criteria in virtually all countries of the world, and as such violations of it are adjudged by the criminal justice system. So, if you violate the copyright law of your country by reproducing something owned by someone else without his permission, no 'creative commons' civil agreement between you and any third party (whoever that might be) can protect you from the criminal consequences of your action.

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