THE COPYRIGHT CONUDRUM, "THEY'RE STEALING MY SONGS!"

MAB’S MUSINGS 

THE COPYRIGHT CONUNDRUM (THEY’RE STEALING MY SONGS!) 

It is one of the most hotly debated subjects when it comes to songwriting in the modern age. There are two distinct schools of thought. The COPYRIGHT AND REGISTER EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW!!!!! These are usually from newer or less experienced writers and artists, (and their attorneys) who think everything they do is profound and amazing and that there are thousands of people just lying in the weeds waiting to STEAL THEIR IDEAS AND SONGS!!! 
And the old grizzled veterans, writers, publishers, labels, producers, etc. that know everything sounds like something else, and it is much harder to come up with an ORIGINAL concept, unique melody, or idea that hasn’t been done to death, often before most writers were born. 
These people tend to write a LOT of songs, do rudimentary work tapes, perform or have them performed out, test marketing songs until they get the best of the best, and when they get tangible attention, then start the copyright registration process. 
They know that most pro writers will write literally HUNDREDS of songs just to get a few that get sincere attention and the rest often get tossed on the “good idea at the time” pile, often forgotten and left behind. 
They also know that BILLIONS of songs are “released” a month, uploaded to web sites, you tube, Spotify, Pandora or the countless Internet sites out there. A LOT of stuff. 

So what to do? 

Well the truth is WHAT EVER YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH. Technically, you have a COPYRIGHT as soon as it is affixed to a tangible form, meaning that if you have it on a work tape, a guitar or piano vocal, the lyrics written down on an affixed form, you are protected from the “time the pen leaves the paper.” So you are protected. With today’s time stamps on computers, and the Internet, you can prove when YOU came up with something. To have a case in court, you have to have it REGISTERED with the US Library of Congress. And you have to PROVE that someone deliberately intended to defraud you. And that is where it gets tricky. 

Proving that someone actually FOUND you among all the songs and writers, and said “I like that idea, I can write that better” and defrauded you of being able to make money is a tough thing to prove. How do they find you in the first place if you are not a known quantity? That is the reason most copyright lawsuits are when one major songwriter or artist sues ANOTHER major songwriter or artist. 

There are surprisingly FEW lawsuits that ever go forward. The reason is that they are very expensive, and hard to prove. 
And in most cases, someone “SUBCONSCIOUSLY” picked up parts of other songs, and just put it into their own, without even realizing it. The most famous of these would be the GEORGE HARRISON/BRIGHT TUNES “MY SWEET LORD/HE’S SO FINE lawsuit. 

The case, which went on for 13 years and cost a fortune, proved that the Ex-Beatle had accidentally lifted parts of a song from 20 years before. 

That happens a lot. I have personally found myself IN THE ROUND at the BLUEBIRD with my latest creation, that I was so proud of and about to play, only to realize that I had accidentally copied ONE OF THE PEOPLE I WAS IN THE ROUND WITH when I heard their song, years before. 
Sometimes it can be intentional. Rock artist, Kid Rock, did this years ago with a song called “SINGING SWEET HOME ALABAMA ALL SUMMER LONG”, where he purposely used guitar chords and instrumental passages from two songs, SWEET HOME ALABAMA, from LYNYRD SKYNYRD, and “WEREWOLVES OF LONDON” by WARREN ZEVON. Kid Rock actually gave songwriting credit to all the writers of those songs. Same with “Listening to Old Alabama” by Brad Paisley, where he referenced many songs from the Country super group. 
Sometimes, like the Sam Hunt/Allen Thicke “BLURRED LINES” MARVIN GAYE lawsuit can be accidental and go forward, but most are worked out behind the scene. The Late Tom Petty was a beneficiary of this a while back. 

And then there are some nasty ones. The Rapper FRANK OCEAN, who sampled the EAGLES HOTEL CALIFORNIA tracks, music and all, then put his rap lyrics over the looped music, was a particularly bad one. When contacted by Mr. Frey and Henley, to gently tell him that he couldn’t do that, he told them less than politely to go “screw themselves!” That was a bad one. 

So there are all kinds of extenuating circumstances involved in this. And each writer is going to have to make their own decisions. 

Most professionals don’t do the entire registration on songs until they pass several tests and work their way to the top. Many don’t even do it until the songs are almost ready to be released commercially. A lot of this is due to costs, but also because elements of songs, lyrics, music, production, etc, can be changed even IN THE STUDIO, so instead of having to go back in and re-copyright or do changes on songs, they will wait until everything is final. 

I would suggest first WRITING MORE SONGS, and then doing the best as a COLLECTION of your work. But do what feels comfortable for you. In most cases, you are going to find that there are no new ideas under the sun and find a lot of things you thought were so original and unique, actually less much less original than you realized. 

For myself, I like to adhere to the saying of a friend of mine, hit songwriter and former president of NSAI, Steve Bogard. 
“You spend the first half of your career worrying about people stealing your songs. 
You spend the second half of your career worrying about having something worth stealing.” 

Write a lot of songs. Work through them. Get them perfect. Write more songs. Then when you have the ones you and others ABSOLUTELY LOVE, go copyright those. 

THEN WRITE MORE SONGS. 

MAB

7 comments

  • Evie Wardill
    Evie Wardill USA
    [url=https://wwww.google.com]thanku[/url]
  • Kieran Delaney
    Kieran Delaney Qui commodi labore s
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  • Marc-Alan Barnette
    Marc-Alan Barnette
    Hello Kieran, thank you for reading my blog. I'm not sure what you said there. I only speak English. If you have comments or thoughts. I'd be happy to listen to them. At any rate, I hope you find some help in things I've written. Good luck in your music.

    Hello Kieran, thank you for reading my blog. I'm not sure what you said there. I only speak English. If you have comments or thoughts. I'd be happy to listen to them. At any rate, I hope you find some help in things I've written. Good luck in your music.

  • Kris
    Kris Australia
    Well said. I write books and twice now have I started to write a book only to find out some weeks later that is almost identical to a book written by a wellknown author but whose work (not a single book) I have read. Luckily my soft copies predate the borrowing of the book from a library. But I did make a few changes, only to find out someone else wrote something similar! Then I read somewhere there are only 7 themes - written about millions of time. Ahoo! Ideas are universal.

    Well said. I write books and twice now have I started to write a book only to find out some weeks later that is almost identical to a book written by a wellknown author but whose work (not a single book) I have read. Luckily my soft copies predate the borrowing of the book from a library. But I did make a few changes, only to find out someone else wrote something similar! Then I read somewhere there are only 7 themes - written about millions of time.
    Ahoo! Ideas are universal.

  • Marc-Alan Barnette
    Marc-Alan Barnette
    Hi Kris, good to hear from you. It's often said "there's nothing new under the sun. When it comes to creative content. truer words have never been spoken. With millions upon millions upon millions of creators, authors, writers, filmakers, photographers, musicians, songwriters, etc. it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to have a unique thought or idea. But people still keep turning out things that we didn't see coming. That's what the greats do. Deliver a product that we've heard a billion times before, but have a different slant, a different angle, a fresh approach on the same information. I've had countless writers sit down with me with the words, "I bet you haven't heard...." And I can almost always absolutely bet I HAVE heard what they're about to do. The reason is our information sources are very narrow. We are what we see, hear, live, every day. So it is incredibly tough to even hear more than a little bit. Even with something as vast as the Internet, we only see a small percentage of what is actually out there. In books, yeah, it's all been written before. You have to write YOUR version of it. I always write TRUE LIFE because it's what we all go through. In my own business, teaching songwriting, I work with the other individuals, I insist that we mine the resources of personal experiences, for their song ideas. So I would suggest you do that in your book ideas. Sure, everything has been written, but that doesn't mean that you can;t find a different angle based upon YOUR experiences, your truth. Study the greats and you will find that even in fiction, there is an element of truth in everything they write. Hemingway, King, Coots, Crighton, etc. are great for a reason. Their novels put us right in the action that we can see, hear, touch, smell, feel. Just like there are a few main themes, (I'd probably challenge the Seven figure, down to about four main themes, love, hate, jealousy, happiness, everything else is pretty much just an extension of that. You have about 6 basic senses, just a few emotions, but ENDLESS story potential within those experiences. So just write YOUR TRUTH. The key to writing is sharing what's inside you with others. But you have to do it so that OTHERS can experience and understand what you are writing. Keep at it and always study the greats. They are great for a reason. Thanks for commenting. MAB

    Hi Kris, good to hear from you.
    It's often said "there's nothing new under the sun. When it comes to creative content. truer words have never been spoken.
    With millions upon millions upon millions of creators, authors, writers, filmakers, photographers, musicians, songwriters, etc. it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to have a unique thought or idea. But people still keep turning out things that we didn't see coming. That's what the greats do. Deliver a product that we've heard a billion times before, but have a different slant, a different angle, a fresh approach on the same information.

    I've had countless writers sit down with me with the words, "I bet you haven't heard...." And I can almost always absolutely bet I HAVE heard what they're about to do. The reason is our information sources are very narrow. We are what we see, hear, live, every day. So it is incredibly tough to even hear more than a little bit. Even with something as vast as the Internet, we only see a small percentage of what is actually out there.

    In books, yeah, it's all been written before. You have to write YOUR version of it. I always write TRUE LIFE because it's what we all go through. In my own business, teaching songwriting, I work with the other individuals, I insist that we mine the resources of personal experiences, for their song ideas.

    So I would suggest you do that in your book ideas. Sure, everything has been written, but that doesn't mean that you can;t find a different angle based upon YOUR experiences, your truth. Study the greats and you will find that even in fiction, there is an element of truth in everything they write. Hemingway, King, Coots, Crighton, etc. are great for a reason. Their novels put us right in the action that we can see, hear, touch, smell, feel. Just like there are a few main themes, (I'd probably challenge the Seven figure, down to about four main themes, love, hate, jealousy, happiness, everything else is pretty much just an extension of that. You have about 6 basic senses, just a few emotions, but ENDLESS story potential within those experiences. So just write YOUR TRUTH.

    The key to writing is sharing what's inside you with others. But you have to do it so that OTHERS can experience and understand what you are writing. Keep at it and always study the greats. They are great for a reason.

    Thanks for commenting.
    MAB

  • Reader
    Reader United States
    Here’s the thing, though. Copyright law has a lot of grey areas that depend on where you live and what type of work it is. You can copyright your songs in some [url=https://topcvwritersuk.com/cvknowhow-review/]https://topcvwritersuk.com/cvknowhow-review/[/url] countries but not others, for instance. And even if you do register your song with the US government (which I recommend), there are still ways to get around those protections by claiming “fair use” or something similar in court should someone steal one of your tunes and release their own version before yours comes out.

    Here’s the thing, though. Copyright law has a lot of grey areas that depend on where you live and what type of work it is. You can copyright your songs in some https://topcvwritersuk.com/cvknowhow-review/ countries but not others, for instance. And even if you do register your song with the US government (which I recommend), there are still ways to get around those protections by claiming “fair use” or something similar in court should someone steal one of your tunes and release their own version before yours comes out.

  • Marc-Alan Barnette
    Marc-Alan Barnette
    Unless you have a large team of attorneys, and plenty of "cease and desist" orders, the chances of you benefitting anything from copyrights are almost nil. I'm not even sure how copyrights work in the modern age. With sampling and technology, if you put something on the Internet, people are going to use it however they want. Not much anyone is going to be able to do about it. There are no new notes, no new emotions, no new ways of doing anything. It's all been done. It is just the combination of notes ,the details of the narration, the twists and turns of the story on a song that make any difference. You can concentrate on copyright law, go to college, work in law firms, and the bottom line is that if you think you can protect anything, you are not paying attention. I'm far more leery and concerned of identity theft, false allegations made against people on the Internet. the stealing of intellectual property by overseas countries, far more than I am worried about people lifting a title, phrase or intent of a song. The reality is that in the modern world, there is not a lot you can do. If you are involved with a song, artist, etc, you will also probably have to be involved with publishers, attorneys, labels, that will hopefully defend those claims. But again, reality is that it really only matters when a song is earning income, which is why the only copyright lawsuits you ever see or hear of are when one celebrity sues another. That is the only way people are hearing songs in the first place.

    Unless you have a large team of attorneys, and plenty of "cease and desist" orders, the chances of you benefitting anything from copyrights are almost nil. I'm not even sure how copyrights work in the modern age. With sampling and technology, if you put something on the Internet, people are going to use it however they want. Not much anyone is going to be able to do about it.

    There are no new notes, no new emotions, no new ways of doing anything. It's all been done. It is just the combination of notes ,the details of the narration, the twists and turns of the story on a song that make any difference. You can concentrate on copyright law, go to college, work in law firms, and the bottom line is that if you think you can protect anything, you are not paying attention. I'm far more leery and concerned of identity theft, false allegations made against people on the Internet. the stealing of intellectual property by overseas countries, far more than I am worried about people lifting a title, phrase or intent of a song.
    The reality is that in the modern world, there is not a lot you can do. If you are involved with a song, artist, etc, you will also probably have to be involved with publishers, attorneys, labels, that will hopefully defend those claims. But again, reality is that it really only matters when a song is earning income, which is why the only copyright lawsuits you ever see or hear of are when one celebrity sues another. That is the only way people are hearing songs in the first place.

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