[bct] Copyright issues and the talent show

  • From: The Scarlet Wombat <coconut@xxxxxxx>
  • To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2006 06:51:55 -0500

DJD, not all of the talent show files came with introductions, Neal may not have known who was performing.

I did some extensive legal research last night with my wife, in her 3rd year of law school, and was surprised at the results.

It seems that current copyright law restricts even gratis performances of works still in copyright. For example, Neal mentioned the song "Cheek to Cheek. Performing this song, even if for no remuneration, is a violation of current copyright law, unless there is permission from ASCAPk, BMI or whomever owns the copyright. I find this to be extremely narrow and stupid, but it is the law and we cannot afford to violate it. Awards are growing for copyright violaters and companies are becoming more willing to prosecute the small fry. The notes are considered a formula, and like a recipe in a cookbook, are uncopyrightable.

This means you can perform the music to Cheek to Cheek, but you cannot sing the words in a public performance without permission. You can, however, change the words to make a parody or satire of the song, that is allowed.

For example, you could modify the song to be about the other cheeks. [big grin]

This copyright stuff is enough to give everyone a headache, but Neal is protecting us all by his insistance upon doing the right thing.


The words of a song are what are copyrighted, the notes are not.

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