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Old December 13th, 2005, 10:11 PM   #1
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Copyright on performed music

My daughter's high school choir performed a Christmas concert. There was no recorded music used - they were accompanied by members of the school band. They sang 12 songs, including Handel's Hallelujah Chorus and several lesser known Christmas songs (at least to me). I recorded it with the intention of making a DVD to give to my daughter for Christmas.

Several of her fellow performers have asked for copies of the DVD. The Music Director has no objections, provided we are not violating any copyright laws.

Do I have to research the copyright information of the songs if I intend to give the DVDs away at no charge? If not, would it make a difference if I were to charge $10 per DVD to cover my costs?

Thanks, Jack
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Old December 13th, 2005, 11:21 PM   #2
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Quote:
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Several of her fellow performers have asked for copies of the DVD. The Music Director has no objections, provided we are not violating any copyright laws.
Thanks, Jack
If the composer of the work has been dead for 60 years and you have performance releases from all the participants, their legal heirs and guardians if minors, then the performance of such works may be created for distribution without royalty.
This does not give the performers any right of ownership of the works but any music that is public domain lies unencumbered from rights owners unless protected by a separate covenant as defined by the laws of the US of A.

Copyright infringement is quite riddled with many rules for use during a public performance.

Realisticly, for your own consumption, created with a handycam at the school gym, you will not attract the rightsholder looking for their royalty. But that is still no license.

Charge money and distribute and you are playing at the same level as Sony, Disney et al.

Search the boards here for very lengthy discussion with regard to your query.

It can be quite an eye-opener.
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Old December 14th, 2005, 01:10 AM   #3
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And just to really rain on your parade, you need to have signed releases from all the performers, even if the music itself is in the public domain. The act of performing the song gave the performers a copyrightable interest in that recording that you made. And you should have an appearance release as well if anyone is identifiable. It's enough to make you give up shooting video, isn't it ???

FWIW, I would probably not worry about it, even though I am a stickler for not using copyrighted music in a production. But next year, make the music director get signed releases from everyone, and post some signs for the audience.
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Old December 14th, 2005, 08:00 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bob Costa
FWIW, I would probably not worry about it, even though I am a stickler for not using copyrighted music in a production. But next year, make the music director get signed releases from everyone, and post some signs for the audience.
That is one of the best real world peices of advice I have seen in a long time.
I concur.
Congrats Bob on post of the month!
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Old December 14th, 2005, 11:36 AM   #5
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Just another thought too -- while such music as Handel's Messiah is itself in the public domain, the chorus got the sheet music from somewhere and it was arranged by someone as well. Copyright is not just on the basic music - there is a separate copyright for that specific arrangment and even yet another on the sheet music. Schools must obtain performance licenses on the sheet music and plays they put on. (Whether they do or not is another matter but they are supposed to.) If the performances are filmed, we need sync and mechanic licenses as well. So even though we could use Handel without license, we still need a license to use Freddy Frump's arrangement of the Halleluia Chorus for high school choir and tuba as published by The Ajax Music and Storm Door Company of West Podunk Iowa
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Old December 16th, 2005, 03:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bob Costa
And just to really rain on your parade, you need to have signed releases from all the performers, even if the music itself is in the public domain. The act of performing the song gave the performers a copyrightable interest in that recording that you made.
Nope, sorry, but that's wrong. There is no protectable interest in the performance itself.

Quote:
And you should have an appearance release as well if anyone is identifiable. It's enough to make you give up shooting video, isn't it ???
Not with respect to any copyright interests. There may (and only "may," depending on jurisdiction) be a concern regarding right-of-publicity/commercial appropriation of likeness.
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Old December 16th, 2005, 03:55 PM   #7
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I think Paul is referring to the publicity rights of the actor. These are tightly held by performers, publishers and agents the world over. The word "may" is the key since we are discussing minors not under contract with 3rd party rightsholder to namesakes, images, performances etc.

I think we scared Jack away....
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Old December 17th, 2005, 05:50 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Paul Tauger
Nope, sorry, but that's wrong. There is no protectable interest in the performance itself.


...
Do I understand you correctly ... if someone records an artist performing music from the public domain, there're no copyright issues involved in distributing that recording? Would the recording itself would be copyrightable in its own right?
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Old December 17th, 2005, 10:01 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Paul Tauger
Nope, sorry, but that's wrong. There is no protectable interest in the performance itself.


Not with respect to any copyright interests. There may (and only "may," depending on jurisdiction) be a concern regarding right-of-publicity/commercial appropriation of likeness.
I give up. I have spent 18 months trying to understand this stuff and I still don't get it.

Screw copyrights. I am just gonna join the people who don't worry about it. It's a LOT easier.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 12:11 AM   #10
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Copyright protection accrues only to original expression that is fixed in a tangible medium. Live performance is not fixed and, therefore, not protected by copyright (there are exceptions for "ephemeral transmissions," e.g. live television broadcasts).
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Old December 18th, 2005, 05:18 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Paul Tauger
Copyright protection accrues only to original expression that is fixed in a tangible medium. Live performance is not fixed and, therefore, not protected by copyright (there are exceptions for "ephemeral transmissions," e.g. live television broadcasts).
So in the case of local musicians playing public-domain music, once I have recorded it, who owns the rights to it? Me ?
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Old December 18th, 2005, 10:26 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bob Costa
So in the case of local musicians playing public-domain music, once I have recorded it, who owns the rights to it? Me ?
Speaking only in the general case, yes. There are, of course, right of publicity concerns, and you'd have to assure yourself that the arrangement of the PD music isn't subject to copyright protection.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 08:58 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jimmy McKenzie
If the composer of the work has been dead for 60 years and you have performance releases from all the participants, their legal heirs and guardians if minors, then the performance of such works may be created for distribution without royalty.
I believe you got your dates wrong. For example, Respighi does not go public until 2012. I think that was 1937. It is 75 years IIRC.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 09:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by George Ellis
I believe you got your dates wrong. For example, Respighi does not go public until 2012. I think that was 1937. It is 75 years IIRC.
Duly noted.
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Old December 18th, 2005, 11:34 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy McKenzie
I think Paul is referring to the publicity rights of the actor. These are tightly held by performers, publishers and agents the world over. The word "may" is the key since we are discussing minors not under contract with 3rd party rightsholder to namesakes, images, performances etc.

I think we scared Jack away....

Jimmy, not scared away, but overwhelmed by the complexity. I went ahead and made a DVD of the performance for my daughter, but not sure how to proceed. I am sure that all 100+ members of the various choirs would like copies, but I am very concerned about "doing the right thing". I don't want to violate anyone's rights. Thanks for all the responses.

Jack
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