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Entries in Legal (12)

Friday
Jul282017

How Singer/Songwriters Can Save $100K Right Now - Today! 

$100 K. I thought that would get everyone’s attention. And it’s the first thing I say when I meet with young singer/songwriters and their parents as we start the educational process of moving up from the basic performance skills of singing their own songs and playing guitar or piano to the rarefied air of the art of entertaining. That’s what I do these days as a live music performance coach.

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Monday
Apr242017

Legal Basics For The Diy World: Artists, Authors, Creators And Musicians

Under US copyright law, copyright (literally, the right to make and sell copies) automatically vests in the creator the moment the expression of an idea is “fixed in a tangible medium” (in other words, the moment you write it down, type it or record it on tape). With respect to music specifically, there are really two copyrights: a copyright in the musical composition owned by the songwriter and a sound recording copyright in the sound of the recording owned by the recording artist (but usually transferred to the record company when a record deal is signed). It is important to remember that you own the copyright in your work the moment you write it down or record it, and you can only transfer those rights by signing a written agreement to transfer them. Therefore, you must be wary of any agreement you are asked to sign. 

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Friday
Jan202017

McCartney's Sony/ATV Lawsuit More Of The Ripple Effect Of The Issue Of Copyright Terminations Under U.S. Copyright Law

Just as the music business has been staggering back to its feet after the digital assault started by Napster over a decade ago, another hard blow to the industry business model is starting to have ripple effects. Recording artists and songwriters from 1978 and after are now entitled to start terminating their contractual transfers and demanding back their copyrights. The 1976 Copyright Act, in a provision that has generally been overlooked until now, provides for the termination of copyright transfers. Even if an artist or songwriter signed a contract that purports to transfer all rights in a work in perpetuity, the Copyright Act provides that the author can terminate that grant and demand that the rights revert to the author in a shorter period of time. This is a great opportunity for artists and songwriters to get a second bite at the apple, so to speak, and get a better share of the income earned from their creative works.

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Wednesday
Jan042017

Legal Basics For Artists, Authors, Creators, And Musicians

Four Essentials:

1) Copyright Protection

Under US copyright law, copyright (literally, the right to make and sell copies) automatically vests in the creator the moment the expression of an idea is “fixed in a tangible medium” (in other words, the moment you write it down, type it or record it on tape). With respect to music specifically, there are really two copyrights: a copyright in the musical composition owned by the songwriter and a sound recording copyright in the sound of the recording owned by the recording artist (but usually transferred to the record company when a record deal is signed). It is important to remember that you own the copyright in your work the moment you write it down or record it, and you can only transfer those rights by signing a written agreement to transfer them. Therefore, you must be wary of any agreement you are asked to sign. 

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Thursday
Oct132016

Judicial Approval Of Contracts With Minors - A Necessity For Businesses (Record Business, Modeling Agencies & Tech Companies)

If a person or entity contracts with a minor they need to understsand the law. From managers to production companies to modeling agencies, and even technology start-ups, the predicament of employing or contracting with a party under the age of eighteen has become an increasing problem. The minor is not bound by the contract and may disaffirm the contract at any time during minority or within a reasonable time after reaching majority. Without a valid written agreement the employment is “at will” under the law of most States which means the minor can depart at any time. The dilemma created by a minor’s ability to disaffirm a contract is that it may seriously jeopardize the employer’s financial investment in the services of the minor whether it is the ongoing efforts of an agency to develop the career of a young talent or the technology company’s expectation that is owns the copyright in the code created by the teenage whiz kid it employs.

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Tuesday
Sep062016

General Licensing Infographic

Editor’s Note: This infographic is intended to visualize the world of General Licensing and how proposed changes could affect songwriters and music licensees. For more information, please check out the proposed SXSW 2017 Panel, “General Licensing: Where Are My Royalties?”  (Votes are also encouraged; voting ends 9/2/16.)

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Tuesday
Aug302016

Texas Governor Greg Abbott Urges U.S. Department Of Justice To Reconsider Changes To PRO Licensing Model

Governor Greg Abbott today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging her to reconsider The United States Department of Justice’s proposed changes to the Performance Rights Organization (PRO) licensing model. In 2015, the Department of Justice announced they would require PROs such as Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) and the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) to require 100 percent licensing rather than allowing PROs to negotiate licensing deals based on their market shares. Governor Abbott objected to the Department of Justice’s decision, which runs counter to longstanding industry expectations, and urged Attorney General Lynch to protect the mechanisms that allow musicians to make a living and create wealth.

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Friday
Jun102016

BEWARE: Recent Decision In CBS Lawsuit Over Pre-1972 Sound Recording Could Wreak Havoc In The Copyright World

The recording artist and songwriter communities should take note of a recent decision in ABS Entertainment, Inc. v. CBS Corporation, et al., a case concerning pre-1972 copyrights - and raise an outcry! The Judge in this case held that remastered versions of old songs are entitled to a new copyright and owners of the originals are not allowed to stop the public performance of them.

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Monday
Feb082016

Legal Issues With Songwriter Collaborations

Under the US copyright law, an author or creator owns a copyright in his or her work the moment it is “fixed in a tangible medium” (i.e., the moment the expression of an idea is written down or recorded in some manner). When it comes to the recorded music business there are two primary copyrights of interest: one in the musical composition or song; another in the sound recording of that song. A copyright extends for the life of an author plus 70 years, and in the case of collaborators on a copyright it extends for the life of the last surviving collaborator plus 70 years.

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Tuesday
Oct062015

Beware Of The Controlled Compositions Clause

Under U.S. Copyright law, Congress has seen fit to legislate a minimum statutory mechanical royalty rate for songwriters and their publishers.  Based on an upward-sliding scale tied to a cost-of-living index, the minimum mechanical royalty rate is set by the Copyright Royalty Tribunal on a per song per record basis. The current rate in effective is $.091 per song.  However, most record companies use their substantial leverage over fledgling recording artists to cause them to enter into record contracts which purport to reduce this minimum rate pursuant to the “controlled composition” clause - and this provision might also be made to apply to producers and songwriters who do work for those artists.

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Tuesday
Aug252015

The Importance Of Creating A Paper Trail When Submitting Your Work

When pitching a project, whether a TV program or game show concept, a video game idea, a proposal for a book or magazine article or circulating a demo of your song, it is a good idea to file a copyright registration on it before making it public. It is also important to create a paper trail in order to keep track of where and to whom your work is submitted. In the event that you someday decide that someone stole your work or “infringed” your copyright you will need to prove two things in order to win a copyright infringement lawsuit: (1) access to your work and (2) substantial similarity between your work and the allegedly infringing work.

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Friday
Jul102015

Practical Legal Tips For Today's Record Producer

It is important as a record producer to understand that each situation is unique, and the relationship between the record producer and the artist varies greatly depending on the arrangement between the parties as well as the genre of music.

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