All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]
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Old 01-30-2015, 10:15 AM   #1
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All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]

Every so often the topic of copyright comes up and every single time I find myself firstly correcting other people’s responses before providing the correct information. So I thought I would collect as much as I can from all of my responses and put them in one place.

This is a work in progress and I will add more to the OP, in a Q&A format.

If you have any questions you want answered, please post them. And if anything is unclear or incorrect, please let me know and I’ll try and expand, simplify or correct as needed.

What is copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement occurs when a rights holder believes the work they own is being used in a way that infringes upon their rights. Put simply, infringement is the unauthorised copying and distribution of part or whole works either as is or as part of another work.

This could include:
  • Use of an a cappella in another work
  • Remix of part or all of an original work
  • Commercial distribution of the original work or resulting works as above without compensation to the artist

So copyright infringement is anything involving the use of copyrighted material?

Well, yes and no. Technically, every use of copyrighted material could amount to infringement. But it’s more subjective to the individual rights holder. What one may deem as copyright infringement, another might not. For example, I might hear a remix that somebody has done of my track and not care. Somebody else might hear a remix somebody has done of their track and may send a cease and desist letter.

That really doesn’t make anything clearer.

I know. How about I quote from [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
? That will help right?

Quote:
Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works.
Okay, that doesn't really help. What are these exclusive rights? What are derivative works? Shit J, you're confusing me even more, I hate you!

There are a lot of different rights. Here are some terms you might come across when researching copyright that I will endeavour to explain at a later date:
  • Publishing
  • Licensing
  • Performance Rights
  • Royalties
  • Mechanical Rights
  • Derivative Works

If there's any other terms you don't understand, just ask, and I'll add them to the list.

But it’s okay if I put a remix of a copyrighted recording up on SoundCloud, right? It’s only if I’m making money or it’s available for download that it’s not okay… right?

Wrong.

Regardless of whether you make money, or make something downloadable, you are still liable for copyright infringement. Even if you are only streaming your infringing work, this still constitutes unauthorised distribution.

But it’s okay if I credit the original artist though. Isn’t that covered by fair use?

Again, no. It’s not okay.

If you were writing an academic paper and you cited a lyric in your work, that would be fair use. If you used four bars of a track to demonstrate a particular technique in an educational product, that would be fair use. If I re-recorded a song in its entirety and recorded lyrics that parodied the original work, that’s fair use.

Pretty much anything to do with research, commentary or news reporting is covered by fair use. Depending on your legal jurisdiction, even some of these uses may not be considered fair use… and any use outside of these is deemed commercial use.

Stanford University Library has a [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
if you want to find out more. Here are two paragraphs from the page linked above:
Quote:
In its most general sense, a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner.
This is an example of fair use because I am using part of this work to aid my commentary on the topic of fair use. It wouldn't be fair use if I copied the article in its entirety here, even if I credited and provided a link to the original work.

But how can I be using copyrighted materials commercially when I’m not making any money?

Commercial use is a very broadly applied term. To put it basically, commercial use refers any activity which results in a profit. A business can profit financially, in addition to a number of other ways, including: market share, market visibility, reputation, and so on.

But hang on! How can it be commercial use when I explicitly said that my work was “not for commercial use”?

Saying something is not for commercial use does not mean it is not for commercial use. Many people seem to have the misconception that if money is changing hands, commerce is not involved. This is incorrect.

Say you’ve done a “remix” of an Aphex Twin track that you then put on your SoundCloud for free and then share with your social networks. You are engaging in a profit making activity.

You are profiting from his reputation, market share and financial investment in the following ways:
  • Increased market visibility as many Aphex Twin fans will click on your link because they’re Aphex Twin fans.
  • Increased reputation as many people will hear the work and equate it to your level of ability.
  • Increased market share as many people will choose to follow you after hearing the work, thus expanding your audience.

But I really want to release my remix of this track, can’t I just do it anyway?

The reality is that there is nothing stopping you from releasing a work. As I said, copyright infringement is in the eye of the rights-holder. In many cases, nothing will happen. However, you are still liable for copyright infringement and if the work gets recognition, you can bet you’ll get a scary letter in the mail.

So how can I do the right thing?

Contact the label, artist or their management directly. This is very easy. Go to their website and you should be able to find some contact details. Then just fire off an email. Preferably with Publishing or Licensing request in the subject with a simple request and a private link to the work in question.

If they say no, or dictate terms you can’t meet, then you have to respect that decision.

What if I choose to use an alternative like copyleft?

Copyleft is not an alternative to copyright. Copyleft, is a marketing term used for certain applications of copyright involving explicit licenses. The most obvious of these applications of copyright are the creative commons licenses.

Again, Creative Commons are applications of copyright. In some ways, they provide more flexibility in how a work can be copied and used. But the major caveat is that any resulting work must be distributed under the same license. This means that if you release a work that makes use of Creative Commons material, you cannot sell that recording without infringing on the rights holder’s copyright.

If you are interested in applying specific licenses to your copyright, I would recommend visiting the [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
.

More to come...
Will add information about publishing and licensing, public performance and performing rights associations, and any requests.

Last edited by Jaded; 01-30-2015 at 10:49 AM..

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Old 01-30-2015, 10:16 AM   #2
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Re: All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]

I stickied the hell outta this thread.

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Old 01-30-2015, 10:17 AM   #3
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Re: All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]

I didn't want to get ahead of myself

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Old 01-30-2015, 10:22 AM   #4
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Re: All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]

And now you don't have to.

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Old 01-30-2015, 11:38 AM   #5
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Re: All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]

Good job! I think every new user should be forced to read this thread before they post anything. The only thing worse than the same stupid questions popping up is misinformation spreading like wildfire.
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:45 AM   #6
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Re: All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]

And the same answers being written out a million times by nice people for people too lazy to use the search.

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Old 03-24-2015, 03:06 PM   #7
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Covering a track?

I couldn't find the information I was looking for in the copyright thread, please excuse me if similar questions have been asked before.

I've just completed the animation phase of a short film I'm working on and now its time to deal with the sound and music. I can record the soundeffects and background noises myself no problem, but I would also like to include music - specifically I'd like to cover the song "I'm Thru With Love" by Fud Livingston, Matty Malneck and Gus Kahn.

I would perform and record the song myself, no samples or copyrighted materials are involved other than the lyrics and composition. I'm not sure this is relevant but I'll also be using entirely different instruments (synth & drummachine) to the original and existing cover versions.

According to [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
the song was published by Robbins Music, NY in 1931. I havn't been able to find any way to contact the publisher for permission so far. They are not listed in the MPA directory of music publishers. I assume they no longer exist. Does anyone have experience with this kind of stuff? Where can find more information on the copyright holder(s) of a song?

I really want to do this properly as I've put a lot of work into the film and I don't want some money-grubbing cunt to come along and take it away from me.

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Old 03-27-2015, 05:43 AM   #8
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Re: covering a track

Literally just asked this question myself; the answer I got was that covers are OK to perform or distribute for free but you need a license(easily obtainable for many titles) to sell them.
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Old 03-27-2015, 06:17 AM   #9
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Re: covering a track

There are always sites like this one - [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
- though I'm not sure if this helps at all.
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Old 03-27-2015, 08:01 PM   #10
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Re: covering a track

I got a songbook with the score in it and more information on the copyright holder is there, I'll try contacting them.

That song licensing service seems like a scam - if I understand correctly they want you to pay $15 for a license to cover songs privately in your own home:

"For now, we have chosen to focus on mechanical licensing and to do that really well. For that reason, if you need to use music for a video, use recordings that other people made, or broadcast music live over the web or radio, unfortunately we cannot help you get that permission."

"We will not be able to help you get a Compulsory Mechanical License if you release your recording of the song for any purpose other than personal private listening by the end user."

Why on earth would I buy that?

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Old 03-28-2015, 06:35 AM   #11
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Re: covering a track

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourier View Post
Literally just asked this question myself; the answer I got was that covers are OK to perform or distribute for free but you need a license(easily obtainable for many titles) to sell them.
Incorrect. Under no circumstances can you distribute someone else's work for free unless it has been licensed using Creative Commons and you distribute it under the same license. The only commercial use you can make of an unlicensed cover is live performance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by purplefish View Post
According to [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
the song was published by Robbins Music, NY in 1931. I havn't been able to find any way to contact the publisher for permission so far. They are not listed in the MPA directory of music publishers. I assume they no longer exist. Does anyone have experience with this kind of stuff? Where can find more information on the copyright holder(s) of a song?
Given the popularity of the song (it's been covered at least a dozen times and used in film) its rights would most likely still be maintained by someone. The song is 80 years old, but I'm fairly certain the "eternity" clause (copyrights now extend to 70 years after the death of the author, versus fifty years after the publication) is applied retroactively.

Quote:
Originally Posted by purplefish View Post
I really want to do this properly as I've put a lot of work into the film and I don't want some money-grubbing cunt to come along and take it away from me.
My advice would be to get in touch with ASCAP for advice. They would certainly be able to tell you if they were still collecting royalties for the work.

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Old 03-29-2015, 05:35 AM   #12
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Re: covering a track

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaded View Post
Incorrect. Under no circumstances can you distribute someone else's work for free unless it has been licensed using Creative Commons and you distribute it under the same license. The only commercial use you can make of an unlicensed cover is live performance.



Given the popularity of the song (it's been covered at least a dozen times and used in film) its rights would most likely still be maintained by someone. The song is 80 years old, but I'm fairly certain the "eternity" clause (copyrights now extend to 70 years after the death of the author, versus fifty years after the publication) is applied retroactively.



My advice would be to get in touch with ASCAP for advice. They would certainly be able to tell you if they were still collecting royalties for the work.
this is under the assumption said party comes after you or isn't too happy you covered their song.
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Old 03-29-2015, 05:44 AM   #13
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Re: covering a track

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this is under the assumption said party comes after you or isn't too happy you covered their song.
I think part of the american dream is suing whoever's dicking around with your tunes, just because you can.
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Old 05-15-2015, 11:26 AM   #14
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Re: All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]

I uploaded a jam to youtube the other day where I sample and remix vinyl and combine with hardware jamming and animations. Not a dj set, but more of a jam. Some of the records sampled (specifically 2 AFX records from Warp) were recognised and the video was muted, rendering it kinda pointless. I have other jams where I also sample vinyl that were claimed, but after accepting the claim the video was left online and unmuted - it depends on the label's preferences I guess.

I wrote to Warp asking for permission but havn't recieved an answer yet. In the mean time I just wanted to ask you guys if you any experience with this stuff.

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Old 05-16-2015, 02:18 PM   #15
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Re: covering a track

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Originally Posted by SKYCORE View Post
this is under the assumption said party comes after you or isn't too happy you covered their song.
Sure, so I guess you don't lock your house when you leave each day, right? I mean how many times do you come home to find that you've been burgled? But you still lock your house when you leave each day, right?

And yes, of course you can release an infringing work, if you operate on the assumption that your music is crap and no one will ever listen to it, let alone buy it. But if that's your attitude, why write music in the first place?

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I think part of the american dream is suing whoever's dicking around with your tunes, just because you can.
Yeah cool, so the Foo Fighters should have just been cool when George Bush used "There goes my hero" in advertisements during his election campaign.

Quote:
Originally Posted by purplefish View Post
I wrote to Warp asking for permission but havn't recieved an answer yet. In the mean time I just wanted to ask you guys if you any experience with this stuff.
Well, if you attempted to distribute their work and it was identified as infringing on their rights, would you say that you've already gotten their answer.

Last edited by Jaded; 05-16-2015 at 04:20 PM..

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Old 08-11-2015, 02:10 PM   #16
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Re: All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]

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Check out this websites legal terms and conditions... [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
Not really relevant to the conversation dude. Not to mention, that if you'd actually followed along you'd understand how blatantly illegal half of the "legal" message on your site is. It's pretty clear just from doing a few searches that you're hosting a heap of content on there which was most definitely not uploaded or licensed by the rights holder.

I'm assuming it's your site because I've already deleted a shit ton of references you've made to this bullshit fucking... And dude, if you link to it again, I'll fucking ban you, just for laughs. I haven't already because I'm bored and paying out on your shit site amuses me for slightly longer... But pimping your site that hosts unlicensed accapellas is a pretty clear violation of the rules. So don't.

Anyway, people don't come to IDMf to promote their bullshit music to each other. They come to talk bullshit about each other's music. There's a massive distinction and if you don't get it you can fuck right off because I'm sick of deleting your posts and I can't be fucked sending you a PM... Peath...


Last edited by Jaded; 08-11-2015 at 02:26 PM..

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Old 08-22-2015, 05:11 AM   #17
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Re: All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]

I always say fuck the copyright and remix it cause i beleive music is the right to the people. that being in mind sampling can be a bitch. but remixing. Its just putting your own touch. its still giving props to original creator. its not like your saying "this song is entirely mine" no your saying " I redid this persons song and the original song belongs to him/her." anyone who gets bitchy over a remix is a salty little faggot
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Old 08-22-2015, 12:03 PM   #18
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Re: All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]

I you have the stems with their premision, you also have to get the original artists to sign off on the remix which normal requires them reciving royalties from a % of sales, and if that % is not aranged their is a default amout.

that legal interation is why almost all remixes are given away for free these days.

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Old 08-22-2015, 02:07 PM   #19
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Re: All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]

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Originally Posted by SCO-173music View Post
I always say fuck the copyright and remix it cause i beleive music is the right to the people. that being in mind sampling can be a bitch. but remixing. Its just putting your own touch. its still giving props to original creator. its not like your saying "this song is entirely mine" no your saying " I redid this persons song and the original song belongs to him/her." anyone who gets bitchy over a remix is a salty little straight white male homophobia much?
Its easy to say this until its your music and livelyhood. When did it suddenly become OK for artists not to own the rights to their own work and be able to do what they want with it?

Most bootlegs these days are shit and made by people trying to garner interest for their own career by riding on the coat tails of the flavor of the month.
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Old 08-22-2015, 11:13 PM   #20
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Re: All about copyright [AKA can I release my remix of someone else’s work]

Quote:
Originally Posted by SCO-173music View Post
I always say fuck the copyright and remix it cause i beleive music is the right to the people. that being in mind sampling can be a bitch. but remixing. Its just putting your own touch. its still giving props to original creator. its not like your saying "this song is entirely mine" no your saying " I redid this persons song and the original song belongs to him/her." anyone who gets bitchy over a remix is a salty little faggot
It's still their work. Unauthorized remixes are kind of redistributing their work.

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