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  1. #1
    I'll just be the doofus and ask this question: is there any financially and practically viable way to obtain rights to publish sheet music /tablature for copyrighted music which was written by someone else? How much might one pay for such a thing , and how would you go about it?

    Is it impolite to ask: Is 99% of what is out there for sale as tab "arrangements" of other people's music done without permission? I guess I have been assuming that it probably is and that it's a nightmare to do this for real.

    Just curious. Thanks.

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  3. #2

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    Sheet music arrangements are considered derivative work by the modern copyright laws. The law permits non-commercial, fair use, but that's it:
    What Are Derivative Works Under Copyright Law? | legalzoom.com

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Sheet music arrangements are considered derivative work by the modern copyright laws. The law permits non-commercial, fair use, but that's it:
    What Are Derivative Works Under Copyright Law? | legalzoom.com
    Yes. ...Unless you obtain the rights to do so . I'm asking how one might do that and whether anyone knows anything about this process from personally having done it.

    My gut feeling is that if it were anything practical that normal people could do on a small scale, it would be a product which could be easily found with a third-party company hooking you up on licenses.

  5. #4

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    I looked into this a bit.

    To do it legally, you have to obtain what is called a print license. A print license can only be negotiated directly with the owner of the music, and it's completely up to them whether to grant the license or how much to charge you for the privilege.

    That's as far as I got before deciding to bag it. I don't know how the big guys like Hal Leonard get it done, but they obviously have more time and resources than little ol' me LLC.

    .

  6. #5

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    What is a print license? - Easy Song Licensing

    I assume that what usually happens is that a person proposes, or actually writes arrangements, tabs, songbooks, song studies, etc., and is in talks with an actual publisher that markets such music materials. If you have something that interests them to publish, THEY will get the licenses needed to publish/print, sell the stuff.

    As far as independently doing it youself, printing, publishing, marketing, selling tabs, arrangements, etc., sounds like a product that the copyright holder wouldn't be that interested in if you didn't have a track record of generating revenue, compared to an established outfit like Hal Leonard or other publisher.

    I wonder what forumite Rob MacKillop does in regard to authoring learning material for Mel Bay??
    Last edited by cosmic gumbo; 12-03-2019 at 10:08 PM.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    I'll just be the doofus and ask this question: is there any financially and practically viable way to obtain rights to publish sheet music /tablature for copyrighted music which was written by someone else? How much might one pay for such a thing , and how would you go about it?

    Is it impolite to ask: Is 99% of what is out there for sale as tab "arrangements" of other people's music done without permission? I guess I have been assuming that it probably is and that it's a nightmare to do this for real.

    Just curious. Thanks.
    That's a great question about whether all these people who are selling arrangements online have permission. It's something I've wondered about for a long time. I'm talking about people like Sandra Sherman, Richie Zellons, Rich Severson, and on and on. It's possible that they have made some kind of private deal, but I'm not sure.

    I've noticed that Walter Rodrigues and Chris Whiteman publish via Sheet Music Plus. SMP has an deal with Hal Leonard for the rights to something like 1,000 songs. If you publish your arrangement through them you get 10% of the sales price and they take care of distributing money to the copyright holders.

    It's not much money, but I don't see any other way for the average person to do this. I think making your own private deals would be cost prohibitive.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack E Blue
    It's not much money, but I don't see any other way for the average person to do this. I think making your own private deals would be cost prohibitive.

    Not only is the cost going to be prohibitive, but tracking down who actually owns a piece of music, currently, and figuring out how to contact them is a daunting proposition.

    .

  9. #8

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    Even Hal Leonard couldn’t get permission to include any Gershwin tunes in vols 1 to 3 of their ‘Real Books’ (at least as far as I could see), which is a rather annoying omission. They only started to include them later (vol 4 onwards) apparently.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    Is there any financially and practically viable way to obtain rights to publish sheet music /tablature for copyrighted music which was written by someone else?
    Quote Originally Posted by FwLineberry
    Not only is the cost going to be prohibitive, but tracking down who actually owns a piece of music, currently, and figuring out how to contact them is a daunting proposition.
    That's why people write contrafacts.

    Matt, you can write and arrange an exercise, call it "Who's Deep As The Ocean?" and you're off to the races.**




    ** This post should not be misconstrued as legal advice. Anybody who goes to a jazz guitar site seeking legal advice will doubtless get exactly what they pay for anyway.
    Last edited by Sam Sherry; 12-04-2019 at 06:47 PM.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo

    I wonder what forumite Rob MacKillop does in regard to authoring learning material for Mel Bay??

    I either write my own stuff, or do arrangements of out-of-royalty old things. But if I wanted to do a piece requiring a license, the publisher would either say "not possible" or arrange for all the legalities to be seen to. So far that has not been an issue.

  12. #11

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    From the US Copyright office.
    https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ14.pdf

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    But if I wanted to do a piece requiring a license, the publisher would either say "not possible" or arrange for all the legalities to be seen to. So far that has not been an issue.
    I was at a workshop of Michael Langer. He's a classical guitarist branching out into Pop and Jazz and he has written almost hundred books. Some of them consist just of arrangements of popular songs. At the workshop somebody asked about the copyright stuff and his writing process. He said, that he makes a list of tunes he would like to do and gives it to the publisher. The publishers task is to find out who has the copyright and how expensive it would be. After the publisher has finished his task the list is much (very much) shorter...

    I've always wondered how copyright applies to transcriptions? You find them on a lot of homepages, and I really doubt that all those guys pay royalties. Some of them even earn money with selling them... Does anybody have a clue if this is legal or not?

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanford J17
    I've always wondered how copyright applies to transcriptions? You find them on a lot of homepages, and I really doubt that all those guys pay royalties. Some of them even earn money with selling them... Does anybody have a clue if this is legal or not?

    Legality comes down to what stands up in court. When OLGA shut down years ago it came down to lacking time and resources (read deep pockets) to fight a court battle. You can bet that if somebody is able to show a judge or jury that you have impacted their ability to sell their product (what Harry Fox Agency claimed against OLGA) you will probably lose.

    .

  15. #14

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    It's a simple concept, If you are deriving something of value by using someone elses property, they are entitled to control and compensation as the owners of the property.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    It's a simple concept, If you are deriving something of value by using someone elses property, they are entitled to control and compensation as the owners of the property.
    If only the laws were written that simply and eloquently

    But it should read :

    "If you are using someone else's property, they are entitled to control and compensation as the owners of the property.'

    In the philosophical sense, one has to assume that a person wouldn't be using somebody else's property if there was no personal value derived in doing so. In the legal sense, It simply doesn't matter if you're deriving value from it or not. One of the arguments people try to stand on is, "I'm not making any money off of it, so it's not copyright violation." Another is, "I'm providing free advertising/exposure for the artist by..."

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