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Postby Laz » September 10th, 2006, 6:05 pm

Not to beat this to death, but I had a new thought (gasp!).

I was just at a fairly large craft fair, and there were a few artists offering pseudo-portraits of famous people (Elvis, Jimi, Demi, Katie). Now most of these likenesses are unmistakable, but they don't infringe on anyone's image rights.

So if it's legal to hand draw a copy of an image from a picture and sell it, shouldn't it be legal to hand-transcribe the notes to a song. The original images are copy protected by the photographer, celeb, and/or publisher, but hand copies are not, even if the hand copy is replicated many times.

Or am I missing something...?
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Postby NoteBoat » September 11th, 2006, 3:33 am

A couple things, Laz...

First, the rights of a photographer are very much like the rights of a recording artist - they own the work (the specific photo/recording) but someone else - or no one - may own the underlying work. If you make a sculpture and copyright it, and I take a picture of it... well, I own the picture, not any rights to the sculpture. So photgraphers rights only enter the picture if someone is actually duplicating the photos - you can sell drawings you make from the Ansel Adams print; you can't sell phtocopies of it.

There's a parallel in music - cover songs. If you record "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You", you do not have to pay royalties to Led Zeppelin; they're the photographer. You do have to pay royalties to Joan Baez; she's the sculptor.

Second, they are famous people in the images. Famous people have limited rights - they are 'public figures'. That's what keeps the papparazzi in business. They're fair game with some limits. Jackie Mason is suing Jews for Jesus because they use his image on a brochure. The basis for his suit isn't that they use his picture; he's got to prove in court that they are unlawfully implying his endorsement.
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Postby petebri » September 19th, 2006, 2:50 am

About 10 years ago I bought total accuracy guitar TAPES and they taught you the songs by telling you what notes to play. kinda tab for the deaf. I assume they did this to get round a copyright law? could we not do this?
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Postby Tele2003 » September 27th, 2006, 4:10 am

since this subject pisses me off, I went to the NMPA website to register my 'concerns'. Typically, their 'contact us' page has a link error the disallows submission of anything.
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Postby strider2k5 » October 12th, 2006, 9:27 am

Several things spring to mind,
1/ how many of these artists started their careers by playing cover versions in semi pro bands.(breaching copyright)
2/ most young guitarists have no money to pay for sheet music....and so the inability to obtain tabbed representations of music is going to stifle their ability to grow and develop their own style.
3/ what happens to the music industry when there are no new original up and coming bands/songwriters

it seems to me that the music industry is about to kill off the next generation of artists.

Musicians need to grow and develop their own style and the way to do that is to play and study music from various artists / genres..the tab sites provide this valuable service from which the music industry will ultimately gain,because they will have a fresh new generation of musicians that were able to learn from other established artists.

These are just my thoughts

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Postby kingpatzer » October 12th, 2006, 10:07 am

I make my living with my guitar. One reason I'm a better guitarist than most I know is exactly that - I make my living at it.


Here's where I think the crux of the debate should reside.

There is a point of view out there, largely favored by the distribution companies, that without 75 year copyright protections and suing grandmother's, there is no way for anyone to ever make money from art.

A lot of artists buy into this line of thinking.

However, history is full of people making very good livings form all forms of art prior to the very notion of copyright, let alone viable legal structures to impliment it.

Does anyone really think that Steven Foster would have been a BETTER song writter if only he had had better copyright protections?

No doubt he, personally, would have been wealthier. But there's also good reason to suspect that there would have been fewer people making a living in that market space as well. From an economics standpoint, it's not at all clear that the net economic potential of the market would have been greater for Mr. Foster, he just would have had more of it reserved for himself.

So, the point of this today, is that I don't know, Noteboat, that without IP laws as they exist you'd suddenly not be able to be a professional guitar player making your living and having all the same economic incentives to work hard.

You would have greater economic incentives to continue working hard after your initial success, however.
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Postby mitchr76 » November 14th, 2006, 9:43 pm

G D Am G D C

OOPS.......GUESS I MIGHT GET SUED NOW. SEE HOW STUPID THIS LETTER IS. BY WHAT I READ OF IT, IT IS BASICALLY SAYING THAT WHAT I WROTE 'INFRINGES UPON THEIR RIGHTS' (IF I GAVE THE NAME OF THE SONG OR SOMETHING, WHO KNOWS. GUESS THEY HAVE TO FIGURE OUT THE ONE I WAS TALKING ABOUT FIRST). IF YOU ASK ME, THEY INFRINGED UPON THE RIGHTS OF U2 AND THE BEATLES JUST BY WRITING THEIR NAMES ON THAT LETTER. I HOPE IT WAS THE GUY FROM GUITARTABS THAT SPELLED HIS NAME WRONG, BUT PAUL 'MCCARTHY' HAS BEEN TRYING TO GET THE RIGHTS TO HIS MUSIC BACK FOR YEARS. MAYBE HE WILL BE LUCKY AND AFTER 56 YEARS IF HE WROTE MOST OF THE MUSIC BEFORE THE BEATLES WERE 'SIGNED' HE WILL BE ABLE TO GET THE RIGHTS BACK. ITS ASHAMED THAT BY THAT TIME ONLY THE MOST TIMELESS OF ART WILL ACTUALLY STILL BE WORTH ANYTHING. WHO WROTE THESE LAWS ANYWAYS. 56 YEARS. GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK, HOW MUCH DID YOU CONGRESS MEN GET PAID TO WRITE THAT INTO LAW. IT USED TO BE 26 YEARS, THEN IT WAS ALMOST DOUBLED. ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT IF YOU ARE ONE DAY GOING TO BE FAMOUS, DO US ALL A FAVOR AND DON'T SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE. THIS WOLRD CAN'T STAND TO LOSE ANY MORE MUSIC TO PEOPLE WHO DON'T WANT US TO HAVE IT.
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Postby smokindog » November 14th, 2006, 10:23 pm

I think its 70 years now and you don't have to yell! ( all caps) :lol:
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Postby mitchr76 » November 15th, 2006, 5:40 am

Maybe they don't fairly offer a service to persons with disabilities which would violate the the seveneties statutes supporting such persons.
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Postby mitchr76 » November 15th, 2006, 6:05 am

by the way I am done yelling. sorry, I was a little aggitated as I was trying to find chord progressions for Bob Marley's redemptions song on olga and guitar tabs (sites i have used for whats seems like a decade) when I made the copyright discovery. however I do have some words to add to this debate. sorry for any inaccurracies as some of these things I have felt for a long time but until now have not been affected by them greatly so much.

I think that it is rediculous that the original letter sent to guitartabs.com stated that money is distributed to song writers and musicians. We all know that none of these artist are actually profiting from these organizations ( i'm sure some do to some small means comparitavely). They were bought out a long time ago, otherwise there would be no interest in protecting these assets by the record labels smoke screen not for profits. Presenting themselves that way seems as though it should be illegal. I also think that all of the 'selling out' of the musicians in the past 50 years is one of the main catalysts that has perpetuated this problem. It is ashamed that we have lost decades worth of artistic discovery to these companies which obviously do not want us to listen to the music if we are poor. This entire arguement is based on the creative value of the artists themselves. However, these companies have little regard for the actual creators of music. Music has soul, an explicit ability for one to convey their inner spirit, completely free of concrete 'value'. This soul is captured and delivered from the musician to the musicians audience. The audience is then transformed internally as a result of this music. The 'industry' has disrupted this very base and prehistoric ability for man to share music. The recording studios have purchase all of the technological avenues through which we are currently able to exact this base human event. Music transcends ownership. It describes our inner being in a way that others can relate to. The only reason music industries were able to take control of music in the first place is because of the previous expense of producing cd's and promoting music. These services which were once useful are continueingly less expensive and now nearly completely unneeded. There is no service to be offered by the people with the rights to all of our societies music. The fact is, however, that there is over a fifty (not sure exactly how long it is) year time frame that an artist has to wait before he can be salvaged from a contract in which he was provided a service by recording labels; even though the music industry increasingly has nothing to offer the musician. By this time the artist will more generally be over seventy years old. The art that has been created will have diminished almost completely in popularity, save for those few timeless pieces. There is no way possible for the artist to be able to benefit from even a small fraction of his/her own creation. This disturbing time frame could not possibly apply now using reasoned, sound, and unbiased logic. It is therefore inexcusable for such a travesty to continue to be presented to the global community by its legislators (not supprising the legislators are behind the times where it matters to the people). I know of no other industry that has such a waiting period. In fact, most industries have a much shorter cut-off in which anybody may freely and without fee duplicate exactly that which has been protected. Artist are the only ones that have lost so greatly. Not because their intellectual rights are being protected, but because the music industries profits are being supported by age old lobbies to our government. In conclusion....

I have no conclusion to these remarks as none can be made. There is no magic answer to this problem. I only hope that time can create a solution that better serves the public. Maybe the internet will be the shining light at the end of this drive; though it my take decades to occur. May all our new young musicians shy away from the establishment as it now exists in search of a more sensible way to share their expressions. And may the leadership of this world someday act in favor of the people over the profits of the stock holder. From a generally non-religious person to the world.....God Help Us All.
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Postby NoteBoat » November 15th, 2006, 9:02 am

You've got a couple of misconceptions, Mitch -

1. The first is that nothing, or very little, goes to the artist. That's not true. In a typical publishing deal, the artist gets 50% of ALL royalties from publishing.

Two things affect this in practice, though. The first is how much is 'royalty'. If EMI owns publishing to a song, they may charge magazine x a royalty based on circulation to publish a transcription, and that royalty negotiation is based on the circulation, cover price, and the amount of space it takes up. If the transcription runs 5 pages, the magazine is 100 pages long, and the cover price is $5, they may decide that 5% of the cover price is fair, or 25 cents per copy sold at full price.

But subscribers don't pay full price - they pay less. So they negotiate more, and settle on a figure, maybe 10 cents per copy. Circulation is 100,000, the magazine writes a check for 10 grand, and the artist gets $5K.

But now that publisher has established a 'market price' for the royalty: 10 cents a copy. So when EMI prints up their own songbook with 20 of that artist's songs, and sells it for $20, the artist gets half of the 10 cents per song in royalty - a buck a book, or only 5% of the cover price.

The second thing that screws up royalties is radio airplay. Stations pay a license fee to play a management company's entire catalog. Let's say that works out to 8 cents per tune, per play, over the course of the year. The performing rights organization forwards 4 cents per play to the artist.

But they don't monitor every station 24/7. Instead, they rely on sampling random stations at random times (I actually know a guy who does this for a living!), and they pay out based on the percentage of times your song was heard in the selective sample - if you represented 1% of all airplay sampled, you get 1% of all royalties collected from stations.

That rewards the big artists, and penalizes the small ones. If you took a million played songs, the Rolling Stones may be played 10,000 times. If you took a billion played songs, they'd probably have something less than 10 million; they get overpaid, because they're popular, and therefore likely to be heard in the sample.

A niche artist like Michelle Shocked (or anybody else on the 'C' playlist) might get 100 plays out of a billion. Take a sample that's 1/10th of 1% of that size, and odds are 9 to 1 she won't even show up - so she doesn't get paid for the plays she actually got.

But in real dollar terms, about half of all royalty money collected DOES go to an artist - even if it's not the right artist.

2. The services provided by the music industry still have value - and a lot of it. It's true that artists are now able to distribute directly, and some do quite well at it, like Ani DeFranco. But it's also true that big music is a distribution machine - an indie will not get distribution to every radio station and CD shop in the country; EMI certainly will. From an artist standpoint, are you better getting 100% of 5,000 copies sold, or 2% of 5 million? Your personal income is 20 times higher with a smaller slice of the bigger pie!

I'm not defending the length of copyright; I think that's outrageous. I don't see much difference between a copyright or a drug patent... each represents intellectual effort. Drugs represent considerably more R&D investment than CD production, too. In the case of drugs, the prices caused by monopoly power allow the company to reap large profits, justified by the development cost; eventually it passes into public domain and we get cheap generics. I really don't understand the logic of why a 'need' (like a drug) passes into public domain about five times faster than a 'want' (like music) - if anything, monopoly pricing should be longer for needs, because filling those needs benefits society, and encouraging R&D investment through pricing makes more sense than filling wants.

By the way, a lot of the structure of 'industry' royalties didn't come about because the cost of production was so high - it was because musicians fought for them. In the early days of radio broadcasting and sound recording, a lot of musicians were put out of work.... and the union fought hard to get the musicians a slice of the new pie. The economic model that had worked well before the new technology (musicians played live, and got paid for it) changed drastically when a single performance could be reproduced in another time and place. That's why royalties exist today.

At any rate, no matter which way things shake out, statements like "Music transcends ownership" would place music outside of ownership, and deny artists anything at all for their work. I doubt that's the world you'd want for your own compositions.

Today's technology is changing, and the economic framework is tilting because of it. But arguments for a new direction have to be based on facts and logic, rather than just hope.
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Postby Q » January 5th, 2007, 1:11 pm

It's interesting that in all the threads, everyone seems to be upset with the publishers, and there has been no mention of the company that earns its living based on protection of these print rights. Hal Leonard is the largest sheet music company, with over $100 million in annual revenues. These revenues are based on 3-year exclusive rights that they acquired a long time ago with the publishers to be able to control any use of music in print form. It is true that artists (and publishers for that matter) see little revenue from traditional sheet music sales, however Hal Leonard sees tremendous revenue from these sales. Their lifeblood is the protection of these rights, and my guess is that they are the driving force behind these actions to take down the free tab sites. A NY Times article recently stated that:

"...before these sites started operating in the early '90s, the most popular printed tablatures typically sold 25,000 copies in a year. Now the most popular sell 5,000 copies at most."

Noone feels this pain more than Hal Leonard. Unfortunately, much like the newspaper industry when Craigslist (http://www.craigslist.com) took over the classifieds business, Hal Leonard's approach to dealing with this issue is protective rather than innovative.
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Postby racetruck1 » January 5th, 2007, 3:06 pm

Not to beat a dead horse....

Over the years I've noticed that a lot of people predict the death of music and creativity when the "Establishment" rears its ugly head!

I have already stated here and elsewhere that I like tab for introducing newcomers to the joy of guitar playing, but on further reflection, I'm brought back to the resources that were available to me in the early seventies. Sheet music, usually piano based, which never made sense to me, (not a lot of people had pianos where I grew up) usually accompanied by a really bad guitar chord annotation.

Yes, it took me a long time to figure out how to play, but it also taught me how to play with other people, you had to, if you wanted to learn. You went to better players, or players who knew what you wanted to know.

One of the attractions of this site is that it really reminds me of those days back then, with the added benefit of an unlimited number of other guitarists! This site forces you to LEARN! To understand not only "how" but, even more importantly, "WHY" we do what we do!

If the powers that be take away publicly published tabs, for whatever reason, then let them. It will just mean that we will have to adapt and overcome. And, in the process, make all of us better for it.

I haven't heard of one person who says that they will quit playing if tabs disappear. If they do, it would be their loss.

Thanks for the rant, please forgive me if this steps on some toes, it was not meant to. This is JMHO from a non-professional players stand point and is not directed to those of us who do make a living at it. Those of us that do, really have a hard enough time as it is. :D
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Postby NoteBoat » January 5th, 2007, 8:31 pm

Sheet music with bad chord annotations hasn't gone away - one of my students today brought in a book she'd gotten for Christmas, the music to "High School Musical". It's piano with chord charts.

The publisher clearly used software to generate the chord charts, and the editor clearly doesn't play guitar. At one point in the tune we were working through, it moved from E (open) to Eº (at 8th position as an inside voicing), then to a 2nd position chord.

She was pretty confused by the move. I was too - the identical notes are available in 3rd position, without all the jerking up & down the neck.

Software has gotten better, and I don't see the egregious errors that I did in the 70s and 80s - where a chord voicing sometimes wasn't even in the same key as the piano score. But as the software gets better, it replaces judgment - it reminds me of Bob Newhart's old routine about putting a million monkeys at a million typewriters to see what you get :)
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Postby WretchedPleasures » November 13th, 2007, 3:03 pm

Let me just say, for the record, that this is another tragically pathetic landmark that the "Pop Machine" has slammed upon us yet again. It isn't enough that they can charge over twenty dollars for a CD, anywhere from forty dollars on for concert tickets, and ridiculous amounts of money for "officialized" tablature, now they have to take tabs that USERS post, most of the time from THEIR take on it, what it sounds like to them, offline. Where is justice? And of course it is Kiss, No Doubt, George Michael, and U2 (which surprised me, but maybe it's just the industry's doing) to ruin this. Hmm...maybe a little bit of something I like to call "the Metallica/Napster debacle?" Wow, the whole idea sickens me. I think Cold had it right on their last track of "Year of the Spider." And Trent Reznor had it right when he encouraged the Australians to not put up with overly-priced CDs...Ridiculous. These people should be castigated, stripped of their finances, and left in the cold, like the rest of the 90% of the world.
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