View Single Post
Old 01-05-2016, 12:59 PM
dj dj is offline
Join Date: Jan 1970
Location: Balderson, Ontario, Canada, 100 kms (60 miles) from Ottawa
Posts: 596
Default Re: Take me home country roads

Hi, Sherry, Martin:

As it happens, I have spent a fair amount of time looking at copyright, both as an author and a producer.

In the U.S. and elsewhere, copyright is the exclusive right of the creator to copy (reproduce), license for copying, perform, license for performance, distribute or license for distribution any work created by them for a term limited by law.

In other words, whether it be reproduction as a performance at the Metropolitan Opera or by a Girl Scout troop, a midi file, a phonograph record, a CD, an Edison cylinder, sheet music in a book, petroglyphs on a cave wall or in any other form whatsoever, copyright exists in a work for the life of the author, plus the rest of the year in which the author dies plus, in the U.S. and some other countries, 70 years afterward. In Canada, it's 50 years. As someone who produces and adapts older works, I like being in Canada right now -- but that term length may change under the Trans Pacific trade deal, which is going to make two of my most recent adaptations illegal for about 17 years.

Contrary to popular myth, copyright applies whether the copying is done for profit or not. Each copy (performance) distributed reduces the remaining potential amount of money that the creator can make from it, therefore their work's potential value is being reduced whether someone makes money from the copying or not.

There are two loopholes to that, in the U.S.

One is a "parody" clause, which allows for the use of substantial portions of a work in a new work which is a "parody" of the original. That's how Weird Al Yankovic gets away with his parodies of current songs. The new work must, however, be demonstrably a distinctly different work from the original. To the best of my knowledge, the U.S. is the only country that has such a clause in their copyright law.

The second loophole started with the U.S. but is being adopted by other countries. "Fair use" is a clause which applies to material copied or performed (which is a kind of copying) for educational, informational or certain charitable purposes, but "fair use" is very restricted in application. As an example, a short quote from a book in a review is fair use, but I can't quote the entire book. Neither is there any "legal" minimum or maximum on the amount that may be used. Entire phrases have been used in some cases, yet people have been successfully sued for using a 1 wave-cycle sample from a recording without clearance. It all depends on the relative value of the material within the new work. Robin Thicke got into deep doo-doo for using a drum beat similar to another work recently -- a drum-beat!

So, Martin's creation of the Country Roads piece in his home can be considered to fall under "fair use", and he can play it privately, for himself, all he wants. But dissemination of that in any way is not "fair use". Neither is the piece a "parody". There is a parody piece to the same tune, called Take Me Home To Bayonne by satirist Mark Russell, which is very funny. The last line of the chorus is "Jersey City, by the turnpike, underneath Exit 14G." <=== See? That's "fair use."

So, long story short, unfortunately, posting the .not file here is definitely contrary to copyright law.

Are the copyright police going to kick down Martin's door in the middle of the night? Doubt it . . . but you never know.

Reply With Quote