Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rip Me Off (Part 1)

Some things are just ridiculous. I uploaded 5 videos for Brother Down today. Here's one:



Obviously we didn't right the song. The title says it's a cover. I've already received an email from YouTube stating that the video "may have content or video that is owned or licensed by Warner Chappell." (Actually I received the same information about another video also, but for explanation purposes I stick to one video, even though both situations are identical.)

Here's the explanation about why this irritates me. There are two copyrights when discussing music. The first is the song copyright, and the second is the sound recording copyright. From CDBaby's FAQ on recording cover songs:

Keep in mind that the owner of these rights is typically a publisher, and that the owner of the rights in the song is not the same as the owner of the rights to any particular recording of the song. In other words, Record Labels are almost never the owners of the copyright to the musical composition - they typically own only sound recordings. You should be looking for the name of a publisher (or in some cases an individual).
Further from BMI's FAQ:

What is the difference between a songwriter and a publisher?

A songwriter or composer is the creator of a work, which is a song, score or other musical composition. A publisher, on the other hand, is an individual or company that owns or administers the copyright of a work. The writer or creator of the work must assign the copyright to a publisher in order for that publisher to claim ownership.
So if we do a search of BMI's Repertoire database we find:

HASH PIPE
BMI Work #5595418
Songwriter/Composer          Current Affiliation          CAE/IPI #
CUOMO RIVERS              BMI                              180165192

Publishers
E O SMITH MUSIC           BMI                              180282972
So plainly, the song copyright is owned by Rivers Cuomo, he is using E. O. Smith Music to administer the copyright. Warner Chappell then, being the record label, would own the sound recording copyright. The thing is, I didn't use Warner's recording. I recorded it myself in the Anarchoroom, so Anarchronistic owns the sound recording rights. Warner has no claim on this video. Brother Down performed it. They own the performance rights, so collectively, Weezer has no claim on it either.

Rivers Cuomo, personally, does have a claim on it. He owns the song copyright. If I were going to sell the song, I could get a pay the mechanical royalties and get a compulsory license to use the work. As long as the rules are followed properly, the license is automatic. Rivers Cuomo would not legally be able to object to it's use. However the compulsory license only covers selling the work. It does not cover free streaming over the internet. The compulsory license law was created for the benefit of the record labels. They used it to have "respectable musicians" record "black music" so they could sell it to kids over the objections of their parents. Now the same companies that had these laws written to their advantage (and continue to have laws written to their advantage) use their laws to my disadvantage.

What is a person supposed to do? The only choice would be to post it and hope for the best. Though, if Rivers Cuomo, or his publisher E. O. Smith Music, asked to have the video taken down, I would have to comply because currently there is no legal way to cover a song and post it to YouTube. Admittedly I'm a little frustrated. YouTube is a great advertising vehicle. I don't want to lose access to it.

I don't think this situation is right. I create content so I understand the desire to be compensated for your work, but this system is broken. For this reason, I am saying: "Rip me off." Anything I post, copy it, remix it, parody it... this blog, my music, my book when it's finished. Use it any way you see fit. I would only ask two things if you use it, let people know where you got it, and two if you make money off of it, share a little. Please? I have more thoughts on this for another post soon.

Update: Here is part 2.

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