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People stealing songs?


Z-Mann

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I was talking to my Grandfather recently and was telling him that I had been doing some recording. When I told him I would send him some songs he said, "Well, make sure you copyright them first. I don't want anyone getting a hold of your CD and stealing any of your songs."

 

I thought that was kind of silly but I've been thinking more about it lately. Does anyone worry about that today? With the internet and computers keeping a record of a song's existence, wouldn't it be fairly difficult to "steal" someone's song?

 

I understand copyrighting is necessary before distributing your music for sale to establish the writer(s) of the music and lyrics. But is anyone that concerned these days about someone stealing a song for profit?

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I was talking to my Grandfather recently and was telling him that I had been doing some recording. When I told him I would send him some songs he said, "Well, make sure you copyright them first. I don't want anyone getting a hold of your CD and stealing any of your songs."


I thought that was kind of silly but I've been thinking more about it lately. Does anyone worry about that today? With the internet and computers keeping a record of a song's existence, wouldn't it be fairly difficult to "steal" someone's song?


I understand copyrighting is necessary before distributing your music for sale to establish the writer(s) of the music and lyrics. But is anyone that concerned these days about someone stealing a song for profit?

 

 

Uhm. No. Never happen in a million years. Worrying about getting a song cribbed for profit is like worrying about the Pig Flu or something. Very small chance of it happening to you. Copyright your stuff if it makes you happy, sure. But it's kind of uhm, well, egotistical to think your original music is worth enough to steal, you know? And I don't mean just yours. Anybody's.

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With the internet and computers keeping a record of a song's existence, wouldn't it be fairly difficult to "steal" someone's song?

 

I think that notion falls under the idea of Poor Man's Copyright, which doesn't hold up.

 

As far as someone stealing my song, what a joy! Imagine the fame and the unimaginable lawyer's fees as I go to court to defend my song!

 

Pony up the dough for registration if you must. Most songwriters will never recoup the fee (not much really) through sales or licensing of their songs, but I guess it offers some kind of comfort knowing that your oeuvre is protected. :idk:

 

*

 

Random spacey musing. Oeuvre is "work." Hors d'oeuvre is literally "outside the work." Can I actually claim to have an oeuvre when my main work isn't songwriting? It's a bit comforting for me to consider that my "work" is actually an appetizer for something else. :wave:

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I think people are always concerned. It's one thing if someone steals a thing from you. But when someone steals your own creative work, it can be something that strikes a little deeper.

 

That said, the only cases I have read about either in the news (very, very rare and almost always an action against a song which has proved to be a big hit taken by the copyright holders of an earlier song that's also got some exposure) or in anecdotal accounts on recording and musician boards (pretty much always band-break-up type things where one or more members are claiming that another member or members took "their" songs with them or later claimed to have written songs for the band) have been very rare in the first case and, in the second, more common, but typically a matter of people who know each other and worked with each other disputing ownership of songs that have not actually produced much or any revenue from recording sales. (Live performance, of course, is another matter, but one where unpublished authors almost never get any compensation and even published authors of well-known hits are extremely lucky to even get an ASCAP or BMI count of a given songs' performance on a night when one of the PRO's has a 'counter' in the audience and he's actually any good [there are a lot of songs those guys are expected to recognize as they're sitting there trying to intimidate bar and coffeehouse owners into paying the BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc live music extortion, er, license. (Full disclosure: I'm a member of ASCAP despite my antipathy to some of their tactics.)]

 

 

Anyhow, bottom line, it seems like it's pretty much the folks you know that you might have to worry about.

 

 

 

But having said that, every year at least one or two big plagiarism cases in book publishing or journalism hit, and, of course, every year, probably many thousands of college students get in trouble for plagiarism, so it seems reasonable to assume it goes on. It's easy to imagine the designated songwriter of some band flipping through old obscure albums looking for "inspiration" when it turns out he's not the fountainhead of creativity he was expected to be.

 

Still we -- and the folks so-plagiarized -- probably never even know about it, because for 99.99% of bands and artists, most folks will never know they exist. Tough racket. ;)

 

 

And the plagiarism cases that make the news seem mostly to be cases where the IP holders of one established work claim too great a similarity to their work by another, typically more current and remunerative work. In most cases that similarity has often seemed a bit tenuous to many, and likely the result of unconscious copying or simply coincidence. There have been some blatant rip offs (typically where a writer thought the source work was out of copyright/in the public domain, as with Page and Plant and the famous blues plagiarism suits against them; they argued that they thought the works copied had themselves been derived from earlier works and that that was just how the blues worked -- a position which some would suggest reflects practical reality to some degree. That said, one of the central artists in the lawsuits, Willie Dixon, made his living writing for, playing with, and producing other blues artists like Howlin' Wolf. And, while there are always a lot of echoes of earlier works in the blues, Dixon was able to establish authorship of a number of works, and was supported by musicologists and blues historians for the most part.)

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You know, I wrote a song in the early '90's called "Tear That Lost Fear of The Ocean." I think I wrote it before anyone had heard of the group Tears for Fears (I might be wrong on that).

 

I didn't have my self together or the resources to record it decently, but I did record an acoustic version in a friend's studio and mailed in a cassette to the copyright office. I played the song a lot at parties and informally at a dance camp that I attended, selling about 80 cassettes. I got a lot of people telling me they were moved by the song.

 

Several months ago, when I was getting ready to record the song, I decided to google the title - just to see if anyone had tried to steal it. Lo and behold, I saw a thread where this New Age woman quoted lyrics of my song, and said that it was her favorite song, that her friend wrote it - some friend I didn't know .. or rather that her friend had said that he had gotten the lyrics from a poem that he had read.

 

I recorded the song, and was able to contact this woman, and she said it was the same song that her friend had claimed to have adapted from a poem. This friend did make a living from performing and recording, but hadn't yet recorded my song (maybe he knew he was treading into dangerous territory), but he was playing it live without crediting me.

 

To hear the song, go to www.myspace.com/larrylevin or www.reverbnation.com/larrylevin.

 

You can upload as many songs as you want at the government copyright website, and as you're waiting the couple of months for them to process your claim, you can keep on uploading more songs. I think it's pretty reasonable for $35.

 

Beakybird

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I recorded the song, and was able to contact this woman, and she said it was the same song that her friend had claimed to have adapted from a poem. This friend did make a living from performing and recording, but hadn't yet recorded my song (maybe he knew he was treading into dangerous territory), but he was playing it live without crediting me.

 

 

Interesting story.

 

btw, I play so many songs in my sets where I don't credit the songwriter. Occasionally, I don't even mention that I am the songwriter. Someone uniformed may hear something I've done and think that I've written it or even claimed that I've made a claim that I wrote it -- even though I haven't made such a claim. Audiences make all kinds of odd assumptions about artists.

 

Have you contacted the musician? Is there a possibility that he thought your poem was anonymous? Of course, he may have stolen it outright and with full knowledge. Or ... perhaps he hasn't recorded it because he hasn't been able to find the author?

 

I agree the $35 isn't much, but is it worth it? What good will come of it? I guess you can write a sternly worded cease and desist letter to the infringing party, but will you actually go to court?

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Tears for Fears:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tears_for_Fears

 

Interesting story. That would have seemed really weird, seeing somebody random using your stuff. Makes me want to google quotes from some of mine to see if anyone is doing something with it out there.

 

 

You know, I wrote a song in the early '90's called "Tear That Lost Fear of The Ocean." I think I wrote it before anyone had heard of the group Tears for Fears (I might be wrong on that).


I didn't have my self together or the resources to record it decently, but I did record an acoustic version in a friend's studio and mailed in a cassette to the copyright office. I played the song a lot at parties and informally at a dance camp that I attended, selling about 80 cassettes. I got a lot of people telling me they were moved by the song.


Several months ago, when I was getting ready to record the song, I decided to google the title - just to see if anyone had tried to steal it. Lo and behold, I saw a thread where this New Age woman quoted lyrics of my song, and said that it was her favorite song, that her friend wrote it - some friend I didn't know .. or rather that her friend had said that he had gotten the lyrics from a poem that he had read.


I recorded the song, and was able to contact this woman, and she said it was the same song that her friend had claimed to have adapted from a poem. This friend did make a living from performing and recording, but hadn't yet recorded my song (maybe he knew he was treading into dangerous territory), but he was playing it live without crediting me.


To hear the song, go to
www.myspace.com/larrylevin
or
www.reverbnation.com/larrylevin
.


You can upload as many songs as you want at the government copyright website, and as you're waiting the couple of months for them to process your claim, you can keep on uploading more songs. I think it's pretty reasonable for $35.


Beakybird

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You know, I wrote a song in the early '90's called "Tear That Lost Fear of The Ocean." I think I wrote it before anyone had heard of the group Tears for Fears (I might be wrong on that).


I didn't have my self together or the resources to record it decently, but I did record an acoustic version in a friend's studio and mailed in a cassette to the copyright office. I played the song a lot at parties and informally at a dance camp that I attended, selling about 80 cassettes. I got a lot of people telling me they were moved by the song.


Several months ago, when I was getting ready to record the song, I decided to google the title - just to see if anyone had tried to steal it. Lo and behold, I saw a thread where this New Age woman quoted lyrics of my song, and said that it was her favorite song, that her friend wrote it - some friend I didn't know .. or rather that her friend had said that he had gotten the lyrics from a poem that he had read.


I recorded the song, and was able to contact this woman, and she said it was the same song that her friend had claimed to have adapted from a poem. This friend did make a living from performing and recording, but hadn't yet recorded my song (maybe he knew he was treading into dangerous territory), but he was playing it live without crediting me.


To hear the song, go to
www.myspace.com/larrylevin
or
www.reverbnation.com/larrylevin
.


You can upload as many songs as you want at the government copyright website, and as you're waiting the couple of months for them to process your claim, you can keep on uploading more songs. I think it's pretty reasonable for $35.


Beakybird

 

Every few years or so, back in the day, fabled newspaper advice columnist Abbigal Van Buren (Dear Abby) would pass along a story about some song or poem that had been passed around as written by someone else than the original author -- sometimes many different authors had claimed or at least had had the work attributed to them.

 

The most famous/infamous of these was probably that ball of gauzy good feeling, Desiderata (which I had posted on my wall when I was a teenager. Of course, I had my walls covered with stuff, by then.)

 

Sometimes, maybe often, these may have resulted from misunderstandings as photocopies of songs and stories passed from one copier to another and were often retyped (complete with no erors, and sometimes, new attributions).

 

When I was, like, 9 or 10, my older cousin, who was in a fairly popular local bluegrass band, played a little song for me he said was called "Puff the Magic Dragon." He said something that made me believe he said he'd written it.

 

Sometime later, I heard it on the radio and I couldn't believe my ears. Here was some trio called Peter, Paul, and Mary and they were doing my cousin's song! I was overjoyed and ran to my mom to tell her.

 

She gave me the real fish-eye look. "Honey, I'm pretty sure Rick didn't tell you he wrote that song." I insisted he had. When I finally asked him he said, "Hell, no, it's a Peter, Paul and Mary song! I learned it off the album when it came out and now the single is on the radio." He acted like I was nuts. I was pretty crushed. To this day, I can't figure out precisely what he might have said to make me think he was claiming the song. But I was positive. I told my friends...

 

But it shows how innocent people can get some cockeyed ideas in their heads.

 

 

_____________________

 

 

BTW, I'm pretty sure that by the early 90s that most folks had already forgotten who Tears for Fears were. :D Their biggest year may well have been '83 when their debut album turned 3 top five singles.

 

They were pretty much wash-ups going into the 90s. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:0ifpxqr5ldse~T1

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My mistake. I wrote that song in the early '80's - before I had heard of Tears for Fears, at least.

A decade can make a lot of difference! :D;):D

 

But, hey... I'm so old that I have 4 decades of alternative culture that all run together in my head... I have to sort out the memories by figuring out what I was wearing at any one time or what was on the radio. I'm gonna be buckets of fun in the old folks home...

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Stackabones asks: Have you contacted the musician? Is there a possibility that he thought your poem was anonymous? Of course, he may have stolen it outright and with full knowledge. Or ... perhaps he hasn't recorded it because he hasn't been able to find the author?

 

I asked the woman who loved my song to forward the mp3 to the musician. He was claiming that he created the music to the song when it was the same music as mine. Either he had heard the song off of my cassette or I had played it around him and he had a good memory.

 

It was flattering, but it was also scary. What if the song were not copyrighted? What if this fellow copyrighted the song before I did? This is one of my better songs. I write a lot of love songs and not enough songs with other messages, and this song had a great metaphysical message.

 

I'm sorry, but I believe in myself. Maybe I'm deluded, but I think I'm going to make a substantial amount of money with my songs. Regardless: I put a lot of time into writing a song, and I definitely feel like the deepest expressions of my heart are worth $35.

 

RE: Tear That Lost Fear of The Ocean, I actually had another wealthy musician who was going to fund his own recording project, who had asked me permission to record the same song, but I never heard from him, and to my knowledge he never got anywhere with the project.

 

Beakybird

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A decade can make a lot of difference
!
:D;):D

But, hey...
I'm so old that I have
4 decades
of alternative culture that all run together in my head... I have to sort out the memories by figuring out what I was wearing at any one time or what was on the radio. I'm gonna be buckets of fun in the old folks home...

 

Dude, let me know which one and I'll join ya. :thu:

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I would hunt someone down like a dog and make them pay if they stole one of my songs... I would fly across the country, across the ocean? I would find them, where they live, where they work? I would take a baseball bat to their knees and color bone, they would pay, and they would pay "dearly..." I would beat someone to within an inch of their lives

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I would hunt someone down like a dog and make them pay if they stole one of my songs... I would fly across the country, across the ocean? I would find them, where they live, where they work? I would take a baseball bat to their knees and color bone, they would pay, and they would pay "dearly..." I would beat someone to within an inch of their lives

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You can't steal chord patterns/progressions. They aren't copyright-protected.
:)

 

Not true. Something don't have to be copyrighted to be stolen. Here's what I'm talking about: I take a song I like - could be a pop song. A friends song, or some unknown's on Myspace. I learn it. I keep the chord progression.. Maybe tweak it by dropping a chord or messing with the timing a bit. Maybe tweak the melody too. And then I scrap their words and replace them with my own. Like giving a ten-speed a paint job. Bada bing. I got a new song and did only half the work!

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I absolutely send stuff for copyright when I shop it around!

 

Case in point... short version here... My partner and I wrote a tune. He not being very busniess savvy drops off a copy of the tune to an aquiantance and a very large label/publishing co to listen to. without my notice. Soon after my partner is diagnosed with cancer and within 9 months has passed. Someone at the label says we want this big artist X to do the song and since the writer has died, who'd know? Little did they know he had a partner. In the interim I founded a new band, copywrote the tune because we were going to re-release it, then I get calls 2 weeks later saying, hey your tune is on MTV in heavy rotation. I have a friend at this artists label faxing me world wide figures each week (sold over a million copies worldwide and was top 40 here in the US). So I begin proceedings to recify this on my behalf.

 

So I learned... since it was not copywritten when the purported access to the song took place, I can only sue for actual royalties earned and no punitive damages. After a headache of legal actions over a year ahead and after all expenses (which I'd have to pay up front, services on contingency) are paid off, out of 100k in royalties, I'd probably see about 25k myself.

 

Also learned that since my partner passed, any and all of his evidence that he took it to this pub co are in admissable in court.

 

I did however get a letter from this label/pub co saying that they had their musicologists review and saw no basis for the claim whatsoever. So if I ever did the song and they tried to sue me back, I can wave this letter back in their face. And the original demo has the other writer who passed singing it, which was done before the artists album was ever released and we had access to it if they had claimed that.

 

So now when ever send demos to parties for placement I don't trust or know well enough to trust yet, it's worth the $35 for copyright for any future headaches...

 

Oh and sorry I won't devulge any of the real names/ companies involved. I wanna put this one behind me... Atleast I know I have what it takes to write a million selling tune.

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I absolutely send stuff for copyright when I shop it around!


Case in point... short version here... My partner and I wrote a tune. He not being very busniess savvy drops off a copy of the tune to an aquiantance and a very large label/publishing co to listen to. without my notice. Soon after my partner is diagnosed with cancer and within 9 months has passed. Someone at the label says we want this big artist X to do the song and since the writer has died, who'd know? Little did they know he had a partner. In the interim I founded a new band, copywrote the tune because we were going to re-release it, then I get calls 2 weeks later saying, hey your tune is on MTV in heavy rotation. I have a friend at this artists label faxing me world wide figures each week (sold over a million copies worldwide and was top 40 here in the US). So I begin proceedings to recify this on my behalf.


So I learned... since it was not copywritten when the purported access to the song took place, I can only sue for actual royalties earned and no punitive damages. After a headache of legal actions over a year ahead and after all expenses (which I'd have to pay up front, services on contingency) are paid off, out of 100k in royalties, I'd probably see about 25k myself.


Also learned that since my partner passed, any and all of his evidence that he took it to this pub co are in admissable in court.


I did however get a letter from this label/pub co saying that they had their musicologists review and saw no basis for the claim whatsoever. So if I ever did the song and they tried to sue me back, I can wave this letter back in their face. And the original demo has the other writer who passed singing it, which was done before the artists album was ever released and we had access to it if they had claimed that.


So now when ever send demos to parties for placement I don't trust or know well enough to trust yet, it's worth the $35 for copyright for any future headaches...


Oh and sorry I won't devulge any of the real names/ companies involved. I wanna put this one behind me... Atleast I know I have what it takes to write a million selling tune.

 

 

This a solid story and I think it really applies to someone who lives in a song industry town.

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