Tag Archives: Copyright

The Public Domain – A Guide for Media Producers

What do these artistic works have in common?

  • Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony
  • Hamlet
  • Moby Dick
  • Oh Susannah
  • America the Beautiful
  • Tarzan
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe

Answer: They are no longer protected by copyright law and are free for all to use. They are classified as being in the Public Domain.

These creative works, and thousands like them, are available for use by the public at no charge because their copyrights have expired or have somehow, been nullified.

The available public domain media include images, music, photos, illustrations, graphics, books, artworks and movies.

Generally speaking, US publications prior to 1923 are in the public domain. So you won’t find the latest bestsellers or any top ten hits. You will find the classic books from the start of this century and previous centuries, as well as the great musical masterworks from Bach to Tchaikovsky.

Copyright Limits
In the United States, works published with a copyright notice from 1923 through 1977 are protected for 95 years from the date of publication. Those published in 1978 or thereafter are now protected for 70 years after the death of the creator, as are those in the European Community. In Canada and other countries, the period is life plus 50 years.

Misconceptions about Public Domain works
True or False…since Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, Swan Lake, was composed in the 19th century and is now in the public domain, it can be freely used as background music in video or multimedia presentations?

The answer is True AND False

It is true that Swan Lake is no longer under copyright and this public domain music can be freely used without seeking permission from a publisher. In other words, you don’t have to pay anyone to acquire synchronization rights to be able to use the music of Swan Lake.

However, if you use an existing recording of Swan Lake in your work, that recording is protected by copyright and you would need to get permission from the record company to use it.

So yes, Swan Lake is public domain music and you could use it for free if you assembled your own ensemble of musicians and recorded your own version of it. But if you use someone else’s recorded version, you would need permission from them to be able to use their recording in your production.

This is an example of a public domain piece of music –  Jeux D’eau by Maurice Ravel. Though the work itself is in the public domain, this recording is fully copyrighted and would require a license to use in your work.

Here’s a quick rule of thumb when using music, images, graphics, or texts in your productions… If you didn’t personally create it, then you need permission to use it in your work unless the media in question has entered the public domain. For a detailed article about copyright permissions, Master Use and Synchronization Rights, see the article How to Use Music Legally in Your Work.

UniqueTracks Public Domain Classical Music
UniqueTracks offers a quick and easy way to legally license classical music recordings of music works that are in the public domain. When you purchase a license from UniqueTracks, you are acquiring master use rights to use the recordings in your projects and products with no further licensing or payments to us.

The UniqueTracks Stock Music Library licenses public domain classical stock music recordings for a variety of media use.  Classical music offers the benefit of time-tested melodies that have moved listeners for generations. Included in our series are movements from Tchaikovsky’s famous ballets ” Swan Lake“, “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Nutcracker (Suite)“, the famous “Blue Danube Waltz” by Johan Strauss, Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” Vivaldi’s brilliant “Gloria” for choir and orchestra, numerous solo Piano Waltzes by Chopin, the “Air on a G String” by J S Bach, and Schubert’s “Fifth Symphony”.

Public Domain Sites, More Information
Project Gutenberg – A great site of public domain literature, Project Gutenberg is the oldest producer of free electronic books (eBooks or etexts) on the Internet. All may be freely downloaded and read and redistributed for non-commercial use.

Copyright Confusion by Neil Wilkinson
Clear and concise discussion of copyright from WritersWeekly.com

United States Copyright Office – Library of Congress. Lots of copyright information, also tells how to register your own work for copyright.


Premium Stock Music for Film, TV, Advertising, and Interactive. Editor-selected, Easy Search, Fast Results.  UniqueTracks has a vast library of music loops and grooves plus a large selection of classical production music available for licensing into your production.


Royalty Free Music, Sound Effects, and Animated Video Backgrounds

How To Use Music Legally In Your Work

When do I need a license to use music in my work?
You need to acquire a license when you want to take music that you have not personally created and use it as background music soundtrack in your production.  Acquiring a license gives you the legal right to include someone else’s copyrighted work as a part of your own work.

What is a Copyright?
Copyright is a federal law that protects creators by giving them exclusive rights to their works for a period of time.  Once a work is under copyright, it is considered copyright infringement (illegal) to use the work without the permission of the copyright owner.

How does copyright affect my decision to use music?
Music that has been recorded and issued on CD is protected by 2 copyrights.  To use a recording of a musical composition in your work, you need to get permission from both copyright holders.

The first permission you need is from the music’s publisher.  The music publisher holds the copyright for the actual written music – the melody, the lyrics, the accompaniment, the actual music as it would appear in sheet music.  This copyright is shown by using the familiar © symbol.

The second permission is for the recording itself.  To get this, you would approach the record company that released the recording.  The record company holds the copyright for the actual performance of the song captured and mastered on tape and released on CD.  The symbol for this copyright is the letter (P) inside a circle. (look on the back of your own Cds, you will see these symbols in use)

The fact that music is protected by copyright doesn’t mean you cannot use it, it simply means you have to seek permission to use it.  To receive that permission you will typically have to pay a licensing fee.

What licenses do I need?
Here are the licenses you need for the right to use music in your media project:

Synchronization License – This license is issued by the music publisher.  The Synchronization License (often abbreviated as “sync” license) gives you the right to “synchronize” the copyrighted music with your images and dialogue.

Note: Having a sync license means you have permission from the publisher to use the music but it doesn’t give you the right to use a specific recording of the composition.  For that, you need the following…

Master Use License – This license is issued directly from the record company. Fees can range from several hundred dollars to millions of dollars depending on the popularity of the music.

Once you have paid the music publisher for a Sync License and the record company for a Master Use license, you have the legal right to use the music in your production within the terms of the license you negotiated.

Sidebar
This article is about music that is under copyright and NOT in the public domain.  In the United States, music written before 1933 is in the public domain and can be used without having to acquire a synchronization license.  However, you will still need a master use license if you use a recording of a piece in the public domain.  Music written after 1933 is still under copyright according to US law.  Public Domain is defined and interpreted differently in Canada, Europe, and the UK. Here is an article with more detail about using public domain music.

How do I find out who owns the song rights?
If you don’t know the publisher of the song you want to license, you should contact the major Performance Rights Organizations like BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC.  These groups have large databases of composer and associated publisher song titles.  Another place to try is The Harry Fox Agency. This company mainly grants mechanical rights (for recording and existing song), but their database is also huge.

Music Clearance
As you can see from the process described above, licensing music can be a time-intensive, form-laden, and expensive process.  There are companies that just specialize in finding and processing the paperwork to get you the rights to a song. If you enter the term “Music Clearance” in a search engine, many music clearance companies will appear.  If you have a music supervisor on your project, he or she will also be experienced in music clearance.

A Licensing Alternative – Production Music
Using Production Music (also referred to as Stock Music), is the easiest way to quickly license music to use legally in your work. Production Music fills a niche for producers who don’t have a million dollar music budget and can’t afford to license a major hit song.  Production Music gives the smaller, independent producer the ability to use music soundtracks in his or her production.

Is Production Music under copyright?
Production music is protected by both the (C) and (P) copyrights.  When you buy a track from a production music library, you’ll receive a license agreement which grants you both synchronization and master use rights. It’s simple and easy to do.  For instance, at the UniqueTracks Stock Music site, your license and recorded master track can be downloaded right to your computer upon purchase.

Stock Production Music is not copyright-free as some have termed it.  It is fully protected by copyright law. With production music, you get the ease of licensing.  You don’t have to contact several sources to seek sync and master use licenses.  These licenses come bundled together and the rights granted are very wide.  A typical stock music license grants you permission to use the music in TV broadcasts, TV & Radio advertising, Internet streaming (great for YouTube videos) music-on-hold, apps & video games, in-store broadcast, and as corporate trade show products and giveaways.  Here is an example of a typical stock music license agreement.

Can I license a famous song from a production music library?
There are no production music pop hits.  You won’t find an Eminem track in a royalty free production music library.  To use an Eminem cut you would have to negotiate a license with Interscope Records.  That’s not to say you can’t find Hip Hop tracks in production music libraries but you won’t find current or past pop hits.

Unlike a pop song, production music is composed to be used specifically as background music. It is usually instrumental, with no vocals or lyrics, and is similar to a film soundtrack.

The simplicity of licensing makes it a perfect choice for corporate videos, Flash animations, Game apps, Music-On-Hold, PowerPoint presentations, independent film, multimedia applications, – virtually anywhere where music is helpful but where the project budget doesn’t include hundreds of thousands of dollars to license expensive songs.


Premium Stock Music for Film, TV, Advertising and Interactive. Editor-selected, Easy Search, Fast Results  UniqueTracks has a vast library of music loops and grooves plus a large selection of classical production music available for licensing into your production.


Royalty Free Music, Sound Effects, and Animated Video Backgrounds

DMCA needs to actually enter the millennium

The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) of 1998 sought to give Internet Service Providers legal protection (a “safe harbor”) against copyright infringement claims should one of their users upload copyrighted material. The act made sense at the early stages of the Internet before broadband expansion lead to companies like YouTube and sites like the Pirate Bay.

The DMCA puts the burden of enforcement squarely in the hands of content providers by way of the “takedown notice” which is essentially a form sent to the ISP owner stating that there is some type of media or software on their site which they do not have the rights to be hosting. The takedown notice informs the ISP owner that further legal action will be taken if they don’t comply by removing the sited item(s).

The problem with the DMCA today is that content owners can’t keep up with the volume of takedown notices they have to file. YouTube has received over 100 million DMCA notices from the recording industry in just the last few years. Google’s own statistics show that 97% of these claims are valid.

The DMCA’s safe harbor is also the main defense used by pirate sites like The Pirate Bay, KickAssTorrents and Torrentz. These sites have earned millions by illegally hosting content for which they have no rights or licenses.

Unfortunately, rather than manage copyright, it [the DMCA] has provided a huge loophole through which a number of online pirate entrepreneurs sail blissfully through. Known as the “safe harbor” provision, this oft-abused language has served to shelter digital thieves at the expense of rights holders. ”Safe Harbor” has enabled the growth of a criminal cancer and it’s a cancer–that as of now–cannot be beaten, only kept (marginally) at bay. – See more at VoxIndie.org

The DMCA is Broken from fastgirlfilms on Vimeo.

Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business

In 2013, Digital Citizens Alliance set out to understand how content thieves operate and profit from the works of others. In an effort to determine how much bad actors earn through advertising, Digital Citizens commissioned MediaLink LLC to undertake a research project focused on the ecosystem’s revenues and profitability.

The findings, published in the report “Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business” show that these sites are making incredible profits off of the works of others.

The highlights include:
• Content theft sites reaped an estimated quarter of a billion dollars in ad revenue alone in 2013.
• The 30 largest sites that make revenue exclusively through ads averaged $4.4 million in 2013.
• The most heavily trafficked BitTorrent and P2P sites, which rely exclusively on advertising revenue, averaged a projected $6 million per year in 2013.
• 30% of the most heavily trafficked content theft sites carried premium brand advertising and 40% carried secondary brand advertising
• The sites studied in the sample had a estimated profit margin of 80-94%.
This presentation includes screenshots from many of the sites reviewed by MediaLink.

Download Digital Citizens Alliance Report

Download More information (Media Packet)
mediapacket

digitalcitizensalliance-infographic

Postcards to Defend Copyright

We at UniqueTracks want to pass along this link to a very smart messaging program from copylike.org (Defend Copyright). These are online postcards displaying easy to understand statements about the damage to artists caused by piracy and file-sharing. The postcards can be sent directly from the copylike.org site.

See some examples below…

copylike.org_postcard_rightsandtheft

copylike.org_postcard_money

copylike.org_postcard_musicisfree

 

Spread the word at
http://copylike.org

Wikipedia leverages user-generated content for its own politics

Information wants to be free… (or so the Web gospel reads)

Wikipedia apparently has entered the political arena, closing the site for one day to protest the SOPA bill.

What’s interesting to me is the notion that the knowledge collected by Wikipedia, freely given by volunteers spending untold hours contributing to the site, can be leveraged by the site’s owners to support their own politics.

I’m not sure if that would meet the approval of the many, varied, unpaid writers who contribute freely to Wikipedia or so-called crowdsource or “open source” platforms.

In an article titled The importance of Wikipedia published Nov 30, 2011 on opensource.com, Susan Hewitt, a 63-year old contributor to Wikipedia says

“Wikipedia is self-organizing and self-correcting,”. “There is no boss and police force, yet at this point in its development it’s perfectly clear that it works really well.” Wikipedia calls to the better angels of people’s nature, and those angels respond.

No police force, but apparently a higher power.

It’s the downside of the concept of a free web. The truth is there are powers behind the free web and they can use their power when it suits them. Now it’s free, now it’s not. Who decides? Well, we saw this week who decides.

Interestingly, a paid product, Encyclopedia Britannica, for instance, could not be so leveraged. Once you purchase it, it is yours. It can’t be removed from your home by the publishers because they don’t agree with your politics. Is that what we pay for? Ownership? Control? Privacy? Autonomy?

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

Ensuring Copyright Compliance the Easy Way

Here’s two online videos that describe copyright and how to re-use content in a legal manner. Though the videos deal mostly with using printed materials, they are good as a guide for using music as well.

The videos were produced by the Copyright Clearance Center.

Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) is a global rights broker for millions of the world’s most sought after materials, including in- and out-of-print books, journals, newspapers, magazines, images, blogs, ebooks and more.

CCC’s six minute Copyright Basics video is a great way to get an overview of copyright. It covers everything from the origins and reasons for copyright laws to what is not protected under copyright laws.

The second video gives more specifics on how copyright laws can be inadvertently violated in your workplace. Watch CCC’s video Copyright @ Work. This video introduces you to the typical ways employees unintentionally (or intentionally) ignore copyright laws in the workplace and how you can easily resolve the problem to ensure you and your employees are within the law.

About the Copyright Clearance Center
Copyright holders simply enroll at Rights Central and they’re ready to earn royalties on the creative content for which they have copyrights. CCC makes the content easily searchable and then sends the copyright holder a single check for all royalties on all content the holder has in the CCC system. This saves companies from managing hundreds or thousands of royalty checks and working out details with hundreds or thousands of people who wish to use their content. Musicians will recognize this organization as similar to Performance Rights Organizations (PROs) ASCAP, BMI, SESAC

On the content user’s side, CCC eliminates the hassle of contacting copyright holders and waiting days, weeks, or even months for a reply that authorizes use of copyrighted content. Too often even people who are aware of copyright laws ignore them because getting permission is extremely time consuming.

With CCC, businesses or educational institutions can simply pay an annual fee that gives them authorization to use anything in the CCC database. No longer do you have to wait weeks for a response and pay out numerous checks to get authorization to use copyrighted material. With CCC you can pay once and help yourself to copyrighted materials all year long.

Year end sees crackdown on copyright infringement and online piracy

Here are 4 events that show what looks like a growing trend towards taking serious action against copyright infringement on the Internet.

1. LimeWire, the company that issued the popular peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software program is closing it’s doors
. LimeWire tried to retool as a legal music site similar to iTunes after the demise of its P2P service, but the company is now abandoning that effort and closing its doors for good on December 31, 2011. Last October a court-ordered injunction forced LimWire to disable ‘the searching, downloading, uploading, file trading and/or file distribution functionality, and/or all functionality; of it’s P2P file-sharing software,” the company said at the time.

2. In Sweden, the convictions of Pirate Bay founders are upheld on appeal
According to the Los Angeles Times, The Pirate Bay is “one of the world’s largest facilitators of illegal downloading“, and “the most visible member of a burgeoning international anti-copyright or pro-piracy movement”. The Pirate Bay website still exists. It has over 4.5 million registered users and is approximately the 89th most popular site on the Internet worldwide. In 2009, it’s founders were found guilty of assisting copyright infringement. The ruling was appealed. In November 2010 the convictions were upheld by a Swedish appeals court. They decreased the original prison terms but increased the fine to 46 million SEK (about 6.6 million dollars).

3. US Seizes 80+ Torrent and P2P web sites
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (a division of Homeland Security) has seized the web addresses of torrent-finder.com and about 80 other websites for copyright violation. The sites have been sharing copyrighted material for free download. The New York Times reported “By Friday morning, visiting the addresses of a handful of sites that either hosted unauthorized copies of films and music or allowed users to search for them elsewhere on the Internet produced a notice that said, in part: “This domain name has been seized by ICE — Homeland Security Investigations, pursuant to a seizure warrant issued by a United States District Court.”

4. Google Upgrades it’s Copyright Infringement policy
A week after the US government’s torrent crackdown, Google issued its own policy changes regarding copyright infringement.

As the web has grown, we have seen a growing number of issues relating to infringing content. We respond expeditiously to requests to remove such content from our services, and have been improving our procedures over time. But as the web grows, and the number of requests grows with it, we are working to develop new ways to better address the underlying problem.

There are four key changes that will have some impact on how they handle copyright-questionable submissions.
1. Google will be trying to take action on takedown request within 24 hours of submission
2. They will prevent terms associated with piracy from showing up in the autocomplete feature of searches
3. They plan to improve AdSense anti-piracy efforts
4. They’ll look for ways to make authorized content more likely to show up in searches

Cook’s Source plagiarism fallout

A recent pilfering of a writer’s intellectual property has caused more than a bit of a stir in the online community. Response was so heated, in fact, that the guilty party, Cook’s Source Magazine, has ceased publishing as of its November issue.

The Story

The editor of Cook’s Source Magazine published a story in both the print and electronic versions of their magazine. But, as it turned out, the story’s author hadn’t given permission for Cook’s Source to publish the article. In reality, the author didn’t even know the article had been published until a friend asked her about it.

Apparently, the editor simply copied and pasted the article from the author’s website. The page is on a domain that the author owns and there’s even a copyright notice at the bottom.

Needless to say, the author wasn’t happy.

In a polite response, the author asked for two very reasonable things.

1. An apology on Facebook and a printed apology in the magazine.
2. $130 donation to the Columbia School of Journalism.

After a colossal blunder like that, one would expect the editor to humbly acquiesce to the author’s more than reasonable demands. Instead, the editor made it clear she would do nothing of the kind, claiming that she and her staff had to do so much editing to the article that the author should thank her for such a good portfolio piece.

However, the really frustrating part of the whole story is the editor’s assumption’s about things that are published on the Internet. Boasting that she had 30 years publishing experience, she actually claimed that the Internet was public domain.

As shocking as this story is, the concept of the Internet as public domain is far too pervasive. The fact remains that anything published anywhere has a copyright owned by its author until that author relinquishes their rights (usually through a transaction of money).

It doesn’t matter which medium is used (print, video, audio, Internet), a copyright is a copyright.

The Fallout

In this case, the general public rose to the aide of the offended author, filling Cook’s Source Magazine’s Facebook fan page with so many angry posts that Cook’s Source was forced to pull down their Facebook page.

Cook’s Source had worked hard to build their fan page to over 6,000 members and with one simple infringement, it was all gone. They appear to be trying to rebuild with a Facebook group, but I doubt it’ll work. After all, the third post is already a call to pick up the discussion where it left off on the old Facebook page.

In fact, because of all the bad publicity, the editor of Cook’s Source decided to pull the plug and cease publishing the magazine. The last issue was the November issue.

One of my favorite blogs is the Copyright Alliance Blog written by Patrick Ross. Here is his take on the closing of Cook’s Source and this whole series of events.

This story went viral on the Internet. Some video spoofs have recently appeared on YouTube…

Can you copyright your name and face?

That’s the question behind a class-action lawsuit aimed at video game publisher Electronic Arts. Sam Keller, a former quarterback at Arizona State, is bringing the case claiming that Electronic Arts profited from the use of his image and the images of other college athletes in their NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball video games. Amateur rules prevent the use of athletes’ names in commercial products but the games have the same team colors, team numbers, body-types and even athletic moves of the actual college athletes.

The case if blowing up beyond the right to use images of college athletes in video games. A ruling in the case could set a First Amendment precedent defining when a person’s right to control his image trumps the free-speech rights of others to use it.

An early attempt by Electronic Arts to have the case thrown out was rejected by US District Court Judge Claudia A Wilken. Judge Wilken argued that Electronic Arts did not sufficiently “transform” the images into a work that would qualify as free speech.

Major media companies, The Motion Picture Association of America, the Gannett Company, ESPN, Viacom, are lining up in support of Electronic Arts.

Keller has support from significant organizations too including the players unions for professional baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer. Each has filed a brief supporting Keller. Keller also has the support of the Screen Actors Guild, the AFL-CIO, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Nathan Siegal, who represents the media companies has said…

Treating the right of publicity as if it were a copyright – as if you could copyright your name and face – goes too far, and it would give people too much power to control the First Amendment speech of others

Representatives for the athletes and other famous figures say Electronic Arts has gone too far. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the general counsel of the Screen Actors Guild said

The real life consequence would be that anybody making anything other than a television commercial or a print ad – what is very clearly commercial speech – would essentially have the right to use people’s names and likenesses in those projects without any consultation.

Some scholars believe this case could eventually land in the US Supreme Court.