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Taking Care of Business
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Old December 14th, 2004, 03:41 PM   #16
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Impossible, unlikely, improbable, possible, probable, likely, certain... these are all words used to describe "Exposure".


It's a fact that big companies will sue churches, high schools, day cares, wedding videographers, garage bands, etc. (My wife is an IP Attorney for a large firm here in Silicon Valley.)

They do it "To scare large numbers of people". You only have to sue a couple of kids downloading music to scare a couple of hundred thousand parents. Is it good for the company image? Does the company even care? That's a different thread.

The question becomes how comfortable are you with YOUR exposure? "Do you feel lucky... punk?""

Don't forget that in some cases, NOT suing is tantamount to allowing the trademark or copyright to Fall into the public domain. If they don't sue to protect, it can be construed as permission to infringe.

There's a lot of legal ground here, that Paul might want to comment on, but I suspect he's pretty busy, and this horse has been beaten to death in a number of copyright threads on this board.

For me it comes down to two things... Exposure, and "Doing the right thing".
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Old December 14th, 2004, 04:17 PM   #17
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<<<-- Originally posted by Tony Hall : you also can't just assume that everytime a big company sues someone that they're going to win. -->>>



Sure, they might not win, but by then you've racked up attorney fees, lost wages, mental/emotional stress, and more. You might be able to file a countersuit for some of the monetary loss (I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know), but is it really worth it?

Now, if you get sued for making a legitimate parody, for example, I might say, "Go ahead and fight the good fight." But if we're talking about something like using music that you know you shouldn't use, then Richard is correct: do you feel like playing Russian Roulette?
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Old December 14th, 2004, 10:08 PM   #18
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<<<-- Originally posted by John Britt : <<<-- Originally posted by Tony Hall :

The music industry isn't going to sue a highschool, a church, or a kid making a tape for his grandparents. You think that suing kids might be bad publicity... try suing a church... not in this country -->>>

First of all, considering the mind-boggling strongarming the RIAA has done to music downloaders, I have no doubt that they'll sue anyone, anywhere, for anything they can.

Second, I believe Paul Tauger has a story, in fact, about a church being sued for copyright infringement... Paul, am I correct? -->>>

Actually, I have two -- one involves a church that was sued because the choirmaster made 20 copies of a hymn that was protected by copyright. Another involves a high school that was sued by Andrew Llloyd Weber's organization for an unauthorized production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
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Old December 14th, 2004, 10:09 PM   #19
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<<<-- Originally posted by Tony Hall : Ok, I didn't say it was impossible... just very unlikely. Who was it that sued the church? And who won these lawsuits... you also can't just assume that everytime a big company sues someone that they're going to win. -->>>On these facts, they would win.
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Old December 14th, 2004, 10:22 PM   #20
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<<<-- Originally posted by Paul Tauger :
Actually, I have two -- one involves a church that was sued because the choirmaster made 20 copies of a hymn that was protected by copyright. Another involves a high school that was sued by Andrew Llloyd Weber's organization for an unauthorized production of Jesus Christ Superstar. -->>>

They would have to sue. After all, who do hymnal publishers sell to? Churches, right? Who do playwrites sell old plays to? High Schools. If these people ignored these violations, they may as well close up shop.
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Old December 15th, 2004, 02:02 AM   #21
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There's just some things I think people should be able to do without corporate greed interfering. For instance, when we buy a CD it can become like the 'soundtrack to our life', so who cares if a private citizen wants to use a song in a personal project with no intention of making money?

I create things and I make money by creating things, so I don't want someone ripping me off or making money off my hard work... but if a high school wanted to preform one of my scripts, or a kid wanted to trace one of my drawings, or a church wanted to use one of my songs in a non-profit video... I'd have to be a real butthole to want to mess with them.

This may be the wrong place to be a consumer advocate, but I think they need more rights. I think that you should have to prove damages to sue someone. What's it hurt if a couple wants "their song" on their wedding video... how does that hurt the record company?
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Old December 15th, 2004, 07:52 AM   #22
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http://creativecommons.org/

http://karatemedia.com/music/commons/

http://creativecommons.org/wired/
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Old December 15th, 2004, 08:11 AM   #23
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Tony,

There are areas of copyright law that do address some of the issues you brought up. Again, like we've pointed out... fair use, education, parody and newsworthiness can play a factor.

Authors of books get a few pennies on every copy that sells, even if its sold to a kid or a church. Would you deny the same right to a playwright? It's not a lot of money to pay for rights to perform "Oklahoma" at the local high school. Its a sliding fee depending on the size of your venue... But if Theatre Under the Stars in Houston, has hired a big name to star in their version of OKLAHOMA, they don't want another version playing down the street... even if it's in a High School.

The ammounts of royalties per performance are usually very small... that's why it's important to protect the NUMBER of performances... you want your small percentage to come off of EVERY performance.

"How does that hurt the record company" - I assume you mean by the illegal use of one song. "How does it help the record company" You might ask, to just legally SELL one song??? Houses are built and fall... one brick at a time.

And generally, the law allows you do do whatever you want with the music you own.

Except resell/redistribute it. And that is what a videographer is doing when he attaches someone elses work to his and sells it to the bride and groom.

Doesn't matter if its one song at a time.


Intellectual property is still property. Theft is still theft. Sure there are degrees of severity... just as there are degrees of penalty to reflect that. The person commiting the offence usually doesn't get to decide how severe his offence is AFTER THE FACT, so he should give some consideration to how the other side will see it, BEFORE THE FACT.

I have been on both sides of a lawsuit, my wife is an intellectual property attorney who counsels both large corporations, and "small churches and schools". Believe me, its much easier and usually cheaper in the long run, to just do the right thing.
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Old December 15th, 2004, 11:37 PM   #24
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That's a great argument, but I guess I just disagree philosophically. I'm one of those guys that thinks file sharing should be legal. I think the record industry and mucians make too much money as it is. Did I say too much money? Uh oh, I must be a communist ;)

We, as Americans, are so quick to feel sorry for all the bling bling musicians... oh no... 50 cent isn't going to be able to buy another two million dollar necklace this month... I knew I should have bought his album instead of buying baby formula!

I remember being a kid and taping songs off of the radio and then making mix tapes to take to school and give to the other kids. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with it and when I got enough money I'd go out and buy the whole album.

I understand that there needs to be intellectual property rights. I don't think you should be able to take someone's idea and use it as your own and I don't think you should be able to make money off of somebody else's work. I just think the laws go too far in some cases. Next thing you know I'll have to pay God royalties for filming outside.
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Old December 16th, 2004, 07:44 AM   #25
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Tony, visit the Creative Commons links I posted above and you'll see that there are artists that agree with you. From file-sharing to use of their music in derivative works, Creative Commons allows artists to have more flexibility in how their art is used by others.

That said, file-sharing really falls outside the purpose of the Taking Care of Business section, so let's address the use of someone else's music in, say, a wedding video.

You stated, "I don't think you should be able to make money off of somebody else's work. "

But this is what happens if you are being paid as a wedding videographer and you use someone else's music in the video (referring back to your comment, "What's it hurt if a couple wants "their song" on their wedding video?"). You are using someone else's creative work to convey and create a specific emotional response -- like they say, audio is 70% of what you see, and that song becomes an integral part of what you are getting paid to communicate, just as much as your camera work and editing. If that particular song wasn't so important, then you could put the Benny Hill theme there instead, right?

As for taping songs -- do you not remember the record industry's campaign throughout the 80s: "Home Taping is Killing the Music Business"? They didn't really want you doing it then, either. The advent of digital copying and worldwide file sharing via the internet simply made them take a more drastic action than just putting full-page ads in Rolling Stone.

And as an aside, philosophically, I think you would find that many of us generally agree with you. But in the TCB section, the purpose is to discuss the realities of business and law and how stay in line with these things while trying to produce our work. What could/should be is nice and all, but someone like Paul Tauger is going to give you the reality of it all, so you can best do your work.
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Old December 16th, 2004, 09:04 AM   #26
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Tony,

To address your objection that "the record industry and mucians make too much money as it is," read the following two articles about how most recording artist are lucky to make a living wage:

Courtney Love does the math, explaining how a million-dollar advance to a hot new band band means that they're only making $45 grand yearly after taxes.

John Buckman, the founder of Magnatune.com, explains why he started Magnatune, which mentions that artists get twenty cents a copy from sales of their CD's--if they're lucky.

I'm sure that Usher and 50 Cent and Bono and Sting all live pretty comfortably right now. But there are plenty of other popular artists who are just happy they can make a decent living doing what they love. (Cake, the band that brought you "Going the Distance" among others, had an album go platinum. So at that point, the band had made, what, $200K? What's making them money now? I don't think they've made the Evergreens list yet..)

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Old December 16th, 2004, 11:52 PM   #27
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John, I'll check out those links when I get a chance.

Mike, that's B.S. For one thing Courtney Love is far from a credible source of information. She's about as fake as they come. I wouldn't believe a word she says. If she's correct, then why does every single recording artist that gets a video on MTV end up with a multi-million dollar "crib". Even Tommy Lee has a "crib" with a Starbucks in it and he hasn't had a hit in ten years.

I really don't want to hear Courtney Love whining about how poor she is. Even if she didn't make a penny off of her own album sales or movie roles, she inherited Kurt Cobain's millions when he died. I don't ever want to hear a rich person whine about money. It's a slap in the face to the people that put them there.
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Old December 19th, 2004, 05:13 PM   #28
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<<<-- Originally posted by Tony Hall : John, I'll check out those links when I get a chance.

Mike, that's B.S. For one thing Courtney Love is far from a credible source of information. She's about as fake as they come. I wouldn't believe a word she says. If she's correct, then why does every single recording artist that gets a video on MTV end up with a multi-million dollar "crib". Even Tommy Lee has a "crib" with a Starbucks in it and he hasn't had a hit in ten years.
-->>>

That's a ridiculous exageration Tony. I know three people, personally, who have had hits on MTV in the 80's and early 90's, successful albums, and reasonably extentive tours.

One is a school teacher living in a condo and drives a Honda. The rest of his band is in about the same league.

One plays in small clubs and bartends. I don't think he owns a car.

The other is a local music producer, who is very small time. While he owns a house, it is a long way from a "crib".

Even at their biggest, they didn't make much money.
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Old December 19th, 2004, 10:09 PM   #29
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Hey, I can turn on VH1 any day and see a bunch of has-beens that should have invested their money better. That doesn't mean that they didn't make a killing at their zenith.

Now, I know that there are a lot of incredible artists that don't sell a whole lot of records and therefore don't make a ton of money. I make a point of buying albums from bands that I know can use the record sales. Someone mentioned Cake... I bought two copies of their latest album.

By the way, what exactly have I exaggerated? I believe Kurt's estate was worth 20 million when Courtney Love inherited it. He wasn't even THAT popular when he died... gee, I wonder how a grunge rocker makes 20 million. He must have sold 100 million albums according to Courtney Love's math!
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Old December 19th, 2004, 11:23 PM   #30
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This is what you exaggerated:

"every single recording artist that gets a video on MTV end up with a multi-million dollar "crib". "

I gave you three examples from personal experience, that prove your statement isn't true. They didn't make a killing at their peak, not even close to it. It takes a lot more than one hit, or even one hit album to make a fortune (with the exception of the rare, rare mega one hit wonders like MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice).

Regardless of Courtney's math, I'd bet a Northern Pikes album that she knows way more about the industry than you do.

As far as Kurt being not THAT popular.... How old were you in the early '90's?

As far as the rest of your logic, wow.

Oh, I appreciate your symptathy for the small musicians, I'd bet they'd be happier if you just bought one album, and kicked them an extra $20.....
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