CharityRackham

Copyrighted or non traditioanl song experience

14 posts in this topic

For the renfest and any other thing the Jade Dragon crew does, we stick to songs we know are not copyrighted or are listed as free domain and/or traditional. Sometimes we are inspired by versions from our favourite other performers but we are not doing their songs but more motivated and formed on their variation of a song.

I've had a number of people come up to me with a list of songs they want to perform at BCRF. I remind them that their signed agreement/contract with us states that they are responsible for any copyrights or the like. We don't design their sets so we can't really control their performance in this way. I always tell them that the songs we (cast at the pubsing) do are 'free for alls' and that's partially why we do them.

Lately a few of the stage performers have asked me again about songs like "Drink up me Hearties - Yo Ho" and "Hoist The Colours". As far as I know they are Disney and Disney is a stickler for the copyright thing (never worked directly with them but have heard stories) yet I see other pirate performers do those songs. Then there's incredible performers like Bogg and Salty, who write original songs I know some of our performers want to use.

All I can tell them is that I always get permission when I use music and songs for our promo videos and, in performance, we stick to the songs we know won't get us in trouble.

Here's where you lot can help. What songs have you had problems with or know there will be a problem?

Have any of you used copyrighted materials and an owner turned a blind eye, or went after you? Why do you think (or know) that is so?

Have you noticed certain performers, artists or companies are pickier or more difficult then others?

Have you ever modified music or songs to avoid or change the copyright permissions/access?

I would sooo love to be able to give the BCRF stage performers a better answer then "you worry about it" for the 2011 BCRF.

Thanks, in advance, for any help you can give.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, the easiest answer comes from ASCAP themselves:

Aren't musicians, entertainers and DJ's responsible for obtaining permission for music they perform?

Some people mistakenly assume that musicians and entertainers must obtain licenses to perform copyrighted music or that businesses where music is performed can shift their responsibility to musicians or entertainers. The law says all who participate in, or are responsible for, performances of music are legally responsible. Since it is the business owner who obtains the ultimate benefit from the performance, it is the business owner who obtains the license. Music license fees are one of the many costs of doing business.

It is typically the festival's responsibility to buy an umbrella license for the event for all music performed at the festival. It is the responsibility of the musician to make sure this has been done. And some places you play may already have it and you're not even aware of it.

In 30 years of performing I've never had an issue with this. So I wouldn't worry. That said, I do stay away from any Disney music because they are the most likely to hunt you down. :)

-- Hurricane

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know there are many, MANY bands that play Disney songs at live events, and never once have I heard of Disney so much as saying "boo" about it. Many bands also use Disney tunes on their CDs - and I believe most of them have purchased the right to use the music on a predetermined number of CD printings. Generally speaking, recorded music or broadcast music (such as my radio show) are held under tighter scrutiny than live performance or local cast (such as a wedding DJ.) Ethically speaking, I think that's appropriate - live and local usage of a copyrighted tune hardly measures the same as mass distribution, and by and large many copyright holders seem to agree. What the law states, however, is often a different matter, and it only takes one ass-hat to ruin your day with a lawsuit. I've very occasionally heard of copyright holders going after live performers for using a song, although usually those are big-ticket artists who've never written a pirate tune.

Most pirate/shanty artists are very accommodating, though, and largely happy to let you play their music at events. So ask and see what happens. Just be careful about misinterpreting permission to play an occasional live song as permission to record it, and also be careful about "traditional" shanties that actually aren't (there are several songs that folks assume have been around since the 1800's that are actually relatively new, and still under active copyright.)

Oh, and just to be on the safe side, I am not a copyright lawyer, so please disregard everything I've just said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm no musician or have any knowledge about such things, but i was present durring a conversation where a band had this very conversation. This band is comprised of Disney employees that go out under their own lable (ok dead give away, i know). anyhow, they do not play disney tunes away from the park for this very reason. Infact they were playing at a bar around midnight and noticed an individual VERY out of place- actually a lot of us noticed him, suit and tie with one of those dingleberry phone things hangin out his ear in a bar full of pirates. He paid his cover, walked to the room where the band was playing, looked around, stayed for maybe two songs and left. Didn't talk to anyone, didn't order a drink, just watched them for two songs and left, didn't see him the rest of the event. After the bar shut down, we all proceeded to a park and continued the festivities. The presence of the suit raised this very issue. The members census was that it could have been either a mouse or music industry employee who looks into these things as several other musicians they work with had recently had similar encounters. I think due to their employer status this may be an extreme view or situation, but just sayin.....

edit* this gentleman was rather large and did not fit up the narrow spiral stairway in the front of the bar. he had to go out to the back patio and go up the straight stairs. he had to stop once on his way to catch his breath. a lot of work for him for two songs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In Florida the Mouse is everywhere. So I just avoid any potential entanglements. If I was in Ohio, I could care less. :)

-- Hurricane

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's something I wonder about. I often sing with a group that raises money for local charities. We always pay for our sheet music, but we don't consider performace fees. Are we violating fair-use clauses? This is a particularly senstive issue for me since I plan on doing a song at our next fundraiser that was co-written by my congressman.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bilgewater - probably the best advice you can get is to not trust that question to a forum. I don't believe any of us are lawyers, and law is rarely simple or clear. The "correct" course of action would be to consult with an attorney. But in this world you could consult an attorney three times a day and still be unclear (although certainly accrue no end of legal fees.) You might also consult your sheet music - does it come with written consent to perform? I'm not a musician, but this would seem like a reasonable thing to include with purchased sheet music.

Failing that, if I were you I'd call my congressman. If he gives his blessing, you're golden. Odds are good he never considered asking people to pay to perform his song, and will simply be flattered you'd like to cover it. Plus, congressmen are often quite happy to do favors for constituents, especially when said favors cost nothing in tax dollars or political capital. Or he might say no - life's a gamble.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Next weekend, he will be singing to benefit a theatre group I belong to. I may have a chance to ask him directly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Next weekend, he will be singing to benefit a theatre group I belong to. I may have a chance to ask him directly.

So. Never got a chance to ask. Did you ask him?

B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's something I wonder about. I often sing with a group that raises money for local charities. We always pay for our sheet music, but we don't consider performace fees. Are we violating fair-use clauses? This is a particularly senstive issue for me since I plan on doing a song at our next fundraiser that was co-written by my congressman.

I've never encountered a problem in 30 years doing this. Especially performing at a local charity. If you're making money off someone's song, that is a bigger issue than public performance without money being exchanged. As I've said, done very high profile gigs and never once had an issue.

--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I as actually kind of wondering if the congressman was flattered or caught of guard or.. I like those types of stories. We're doing a gig next month where we will be working with one of the local mayors. From what I hear he is a hoot to work with and we have some great 'stabs' planned for him.

So.. I'd like to know.. What happened? Hey.. If this makes a different subject, Bildgewater Browne.. Did we want to start another post on another section. Talk about these sorts of experiences and stories?

Later and I do thank you Hurricane for adding more to this. Folks we do gigs with ask this one a lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really? I've never had anyone ask ever. They just hire us and we do the gig, from really big corporate events to local fundraisers. It's never come up. Odd.

--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really?

Back in Ontario we had less issues on this sort of thing, but when we were down in Maryland we had friends tell us these stories about the 'dance they do' and then her in BC some are just fine and others... whoa boy.

It seems to depend on not only the 'city' but sometimes the background of the gig. I remember this one face painting gig that was so worried about Disney we couldn't do Disney designs and then when we did the stuff for the Science Centre we could do anything and they are the same city.

Huh....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Recording anything for CD's or other distribution purposes is an entirely different kettle of fish. A little googling usually can help you find whoever holds the copyright and then you can usually write for a recording and mechanical (duplication) license from the copyright holder.

Long story short--- use your judgement and don't worry too, too much if you want to sing a copyrighted song at a live event. If you want to be MORE careful, I'd probably say a good rule of thumb would be- if more than 100 people are watching, the event/show is too big to perform something you may think infringes on someone else's copyright. Otherwise, I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it.

My completely non-law-school, probably illegal, but also somewhat sensible advice. This is not professional legal consultation, just a fellow performer sharing his own experiences. :)

Edited by Henry Martin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now