Modern music

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Modern music

Postby lildog » Thu Aug 04, 2016 5:42 pm

So I have been looking for new(er) music to play. As I understand it, the newer music is under copyright so tabs cannot be put here on ED. That I understand. But what usually follows that ( and is great advice given the situation) is look for other kinds of tab...like harmonica. I found a bounty of "cool" stuff to plkasy and is pretty simple to convert. But why can a harmonica, guitar or ocarina site have these tabs and not ED, assuming they are converted to dulcimer? Are they all illegal, wantonly ignoring copyright? Obviously, I am not talking about the newest hit by the hottest artist...for the sake of example, the Indiana Jones theme song.

Thanks for any insight,
Todd
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Re: Modern music

Postby KenH » Thu Aug 04, 2016 10:30 pm

It depends on the website, of course. Some are wantonly violating copyright. Others are paying royalties based on how many people access a particular song. Everything Dulcimer and Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer have take the "high road" right from their beginnings. Intellectual property, as it is called, is very important to many of us -- authors, songwriters, tunebook creators, etc.

If a person chooses to use "illegal" tab or SMN then they are liable for paying reproduction copyright fees and/or performance fees.

Yes, it is also illegal to perform music which is under copyright or performance protection. Bars and other venues which host musical groups, Open Mic Nights, etc. pay the several governing organizations a monthly fee for the right to have performers there who are playing protected music.
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Re: Modern music

Postby GrantOlson » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:25 am

Thank's for this information. I have never always understood copyright very well.
It seems a shame that we can't just share any song with each other. But at the same time it is important to respect other's creativity. Sometimes it seems like music is just to make money now, not to have fun. That's one reason to like fiddle tunes!
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Re: Modern music

Postby asterhunter » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:56 am

I think it's safe to say that they won't come after you for playing a copyrighted song on your dulcimer during something like a church service, jamming in your neighbor's living room, or during open mic at your local annual dulcimer festival. However, consistantly playing at a public venue like a night club, especially where an admission fee is charged, or if you perform in a band, then someone has to pay the performance royalties. It might be you, as the performer, or it might be the owner of the venue. HOWEVER, unless the composer/publisher is a member of a collection agency like ASCAP or BMI, it's highly unlikely that live performances can be tracked for the composer or publisher to be compensated. Live performance also means playing over the air recorded broadcasts, satellite, internet or other broadcast, or even (potentially) posting an audio file of your performance here on ED (movie films are excluded from paying royalties).

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Re: Modern music

Postby Acmespaceship » Fri Aug 05, 2016 2:19 pm

I recall that a few years ago, some of the guitar tab sites were shut down and some others moved their servers overseas. The industry tries to kill those sites, but the guitar-playing community is too large and has too many sites. Safety in numbers.

There aren't nearly as many dulcimer players. We can't hide in a crowd. As Ken says, ED and FOTMD have taken the high road. Which is surely the safest route. The weirdest approach I've seen is an Android app for ukulele tab, which provides the chords and a few of the lyrics, but X's out most of the words in hopes of avoiding copyright problems. It's weird because the guitar version of that same app provides all the lyrics :D

Luckily, a chord is a chord is a chord. You can get lyrics and chords from a guitar site and play/sing them on dulcimer. This won't get you the melody tab. Which leaves you with three options:

1) Play pre-copyright songs until you die -- Which suits some players just fine, but not everybody.

2) Play the chords and sing (or accompany another instrument that plays melody) -- Most guitarists are perfectly content to strum or fingerpick the chords. No law says you have to play melody.

3) Learn to figure out the melody for yourself, either by ear or sheet music or converting guitar tab. Often, if you play the chords you find on the internet, the melody is one of the notes in the chord. That at least gives you a place to start.

I think the dulcimer sites are wise to avoid copyright issues. However, I also believe our impeccable scruples are limiting the popularity of our instrument. I know a lot of people who used to play dulcimer. And still more who think dulcimers are neat but there's no point in learning how to play one because they don't particularly like old-time music and that's the only thing a dulcimer is good for. :(
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Re: Modern music

Postby GrantOlson » Fri Aug 05, 2016 6:36 pm

It's too bad that they think that. I see the dulcimer as a very versatile instrument. If you have the right tuning and frets, you can play almost anything.
Does a copyright include the lyrics and the melody? Or could you play just the melody without breaking any laws?
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Re: Modern music

Postby KenH » Fri Aug 05, 2016 9:14 pm

Lyrics and melody are each copyrighted. Creating new words for a copyrighted melody is illegal, as is taking someone's lyrics and setting them to a new tune. Those two actions were, however, the foundations of the folk music process a hundred years ago and more.
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Re: Modern music

Postby asterhunter » Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:16 am

Yes, with one exception, the parody. A court ruling made it legal to make a parody of a song, and that parody will be author's copyright.

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Re: Modern music

Postby GrantOlson » Sat Aug 06, 2016 8:20 am

Suppose you wrote a melody, and it happened to sound similar to a song, but you had never heard the song before. Would you get in trouble?
Creating new words for a melody, and a new melody for a set of lyrics; is that just for performing, or is it even if you share it with someone?
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Re: Modern music

Postby asterhunter » Sat Aug 06, 2016 8:42 am

As they say, "there's nothing new under the sun" and certainly with music any original piece has the same building blocks that everyone uses. It's a bit of a gray area between originality and plagiarism, and many a musician/songwriter has been taken to court. But yes it can definitely happen by accident. I would imagine that between musicians there has to be a bit of a live and let live mentality as this happens to anyone and everyone sooner or later. Blatant cases have to be taken seriously though. It doesn't have to be an entire piece to be plagiarism, it can be a phrase, a part of someone else's lyrics, anything that can be readily identified as belonging to another artist. Obviously many concepts are universal, like the I-V-I chord progression. Everyone uses that, it can't be "plagiarized." But if you want to use a piece of someone else's music as part of yours, you have to get permission and pay them royalties. I seem to remember a case where George Harrison of the Beatles was sued over the composer of "He's So Fine" claiming plagiarism of the main phrase in "My Sweet Lord." I believe GH won that case though.
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Re: Modern music

Postby kwl » Sat Aug 06, 2016 11:23 am

I haven't commented here because this is a very complex issue. Recently there was the trial over Led Zeppelin and Stairway to Heaven. I just think there is one clarification that needs to be made. Copyright does not cover performance. Performance, either live or on a recording, is covered by a mechanical license which is what what the various groups (BMI, ASCAP, etc.) collect. As KenH mentioned, it is the venue's responsibility for paying these fees. Copyright involves the reproduction of the music in written form, either in SMN or tab, including the lyrics. Permission to use the music in this form is generally negotiated directly with the copyright holder.

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Re: Modern music

Postby Robin the Busker » Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:23 am

We should be a little careful about using the term illegal in the context of copyright. Some acts, such as counterfeit and piracy, in terms of IP are illegal but copyright violations are not. They fall under civil laws and so can only be pursued in the civil courts. The big publishing houses would love you to think copyright infringement was Illegal to frighten you off, so there is plenty of misinformation circulated. Actually the courts do tend to fall in favour of 'fair use' which is why even EMI doesn't chase folks putting up there own amateur bedroom covers of pop songs - which are usually beneficial for sales of the original work! Commercial covers are a different matter. And performance is covered by venue license. However, even in these cases you are doing nothing illegal as licenses are purely civil contracts. The PRS or publishing house or equivalent, whilst they do some good work for artists, can sometimes be said to work like a car park management company in that they 'pretend' to be legal enforcement, which they are not.

All that said I do believe artists should have their IP protected, I'm just not so sure that the bodies 'protecting' them are always as moral as they make out.
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