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I asked for and got a copy of Finale SongWriter a few years ago for my birthday. I love it! I love writing down the songs in my head. In the last year, though, I've had students make requests for sheet music that doesn't exist. Either they'd say, "I need to play this song for church," and it's way too hard for them (so they need a simplified arrangement), or they hear a song, and the sheet music simply doesn't exist.

Case in point:

One of my best students apparently wants to play "Box of Rocks" by The Song Trust for a Christmas party while someone (her family? Friends?) sings it. It's a cute, simple song, but the sheet music is not available anywhere, nor is an instrumental-only version of the song. She asked me if I could put it in Finale, and I have done so. I do not intend to put the sheet music online anywhere; this is a just-for-my-student thing.

Anyway. I have some questions that have arisen as I've done this more and more (I think four or five times in the last year).

1. What are the copyright issues that may arise from this type of use?
2. Who would I contact to deal with copyright issues, like if I, for instance, wanted to make my work available online to others? I could not, for example, find any contact information for The Song Trust.
3. Would you charge students extra for this sort of thing? "Box of Rocks" probably took 3 hours of my time. I didn't charge this time, but if my students find out I can do this, I can imagine them asking me to do it more and more, and I just don't have time or will to always do it for free.

Is there anyone here who does anything like this who can give me advice?


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I'm not able to answer your questions. However, I have arranged a piece for a student, who then went on to play it at my recital. His parents videotaped his performance and placed it on youtube without telling me. My brother who lives very far away googled my name one day, and that's how I learned I was on youtube in person as well as by name. I learned they had given me credit for the arrangement. However, I didn't want to be on youtube. So I asked his parents to take me off of youtube which they did. So my cautionary tale is to be careful. You may tell your student not to put it online but their acquaintance might.

I also had a student play something at school. After hearing it, his music teacher wanted copies.

My advice is don't do it before you have published it.

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Originally Posted by Brinestone
1. What are the copyright issues that may arise from this type of use?
Legally speaking what you've done is legal.

Pragmatically speaking, I seriously doubt anyone will come knocking on your door asking for explanations, or money.

That said, depending on how popular your arrangement may become (you never know), and how eager is the student(s parents and friends) to promote it, it may reach to the wrong people.

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2. Who would I contact to deal with copyright issues, like if I, for instance, wanted to make my work available online to others? I could not, for example, find any contact information for The Song Trust.
The publishers, but I don't know who they are. I think there are databases out there with the copyrights of each song, and tune.

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3. Would you charge students extra for this sort of thing? "Box of Rocks" probably took 3 hours of my time. I didn't charge this time, but if my students find out I can do this, I can imagine them asking me to do it more and more, and I just don't have time or will to always do it for free.
Not this time, but for the next time, if someone asks, do explain the situation to them and tell them that your time IS precious and as such you wouldn't be able to do it for free.

alternatively, turn this into a lesson and teach them HOW to do it, so that you will charge your hourly pay per norm and they'll get some additional information to use it at home.

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Legal issues: Don't post an arrangement (score or recording) on the internet. Performance at studio recitals etc. is probably fine as long as the parents know not to post the video online. And presumably you don't charge for tickets to studio recitals.
To publish your own arrangement of a song that's under copyright, you need the rights. Harry Fox is one large rights management agency -- google them and find out how they work, that's how all the big agencies work. You can just write to Harry Fox, send a check and get rights for songs. Major artists prefer to let large agencies like Harry Fox handle these arrangements rather than being contacted directly by everyone.
If the song is by a smaller independent artist or living composer, efforts to contact the artist or composer directly are probably worth while. They may not be with the big agencies anyway, and they will have more time to engage with you (and they might even end up promoting your arrangement or a student's performance of it.)

Can you just throw an arrangement up on the internet and hope no one notices? You can, and amateurs and parents often do with no trouble, but if you are a teacher or professional musician you probably don't want to risk the headaches that could potentially result if someone does notice.

I often help students arrange tunes for themselves, but almost always we are working on it together in lesson time, and we don't usually write it down beyond making a list of sections and maybe the chord progressions. I let the student take the lead on planning the arrangement, helping only when they get stuck or are doing something foolish. Then the student gets credit for being the arranger and I list them that way in the recital programs smile

Last edited by hreichgott; 12/11/15 03:21 PM.

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Please remind me, what was the last time a teacher got in trouble for posting an arrangement of a copyrighted music?

How much do you think the label would sue you for?

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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
Please remind me, what was the last time a teacher got in trouble for posting an arrangement of a copyrighted music?



To me it doesn't matter whether I will get caught, if I know what is right and what is wrong.


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Musical Arrangements and Copyright Law

According to this article, “public performance license” covers purely adaptive arrangement for live performance.

Obtaining this type of permission is quite easy and has probably already been obtained. Typically, locations where music is performed publicly, such as concert halls, parks, and nightclubs, already have obtained this type of license from the three performing rights organizations (PROs) in the U.S. (ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) in a blanket way that includes all performances at their location. These three PROs grant these rights on behalf of virtually every music publisher and songwriter in the United States. These licenses are very broad and would include situations where only a portion of the original musical work or arrangement was performed. Therefore, the writer of this arrangement has nothing further to do in terms of obtaining permission for the performance beyond confirming with the location that the blanket licenses are already in place.

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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
Musical Arrangements and Copyright Law

According to this article, “public performance license” covers purely adaptive arrangement for live performance.

Obtaining this type of permission is quite easy and has probably already been obtained. Typically, locations where music is performed publicly, such as concert halls, parks, and nightclubs, already have obtained this type of license from the three performing rights organizations (PROs) in the U.S. (ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) in a blanket way that includes all performances at their location. These three PROs grant these rights on behalf of virtually every music publisher and songwriter in the United States. These licenses are very broad and would include situations where only a portion of the original musical work or arrangement was performed. Therefore, the writer of this arrangement has nothing further to do in terms of obtaining permission for the performance beyond confirming with the location that the blanket licenses are already in place.

My god, are you a lawyer?


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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
Musical Arrangements and Copyright Law

According to this article, “public performance license” covers purely adaptive arrangement for live performance.

Obtaining this type of permission is quite easy and has probably already been obtained. Typically, locations where music is performed publicly, such as concert halls, parks, and nightclubs, already have obtained this type of license from the three performing rights organizations (PROs) in the U.S. (ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) in a blanket way that includes all performances at their location. These three PROs grant these rights on behalf of virtually every music publisher and songwriter in the United States. These licenses are very broad and would include situations where only a portion of the original musical work or arrangement was performed. Therefore, the writer of this arrangement has nothing further to do in terms of obtaining permission for the performance beyond confirming with the location that the blanket licenses are already in place.


Once the performance is recorded and posted online then it isn't a live public performance.


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If you post them on Youtube, and you agree to display an ad on it, you are covered. Actually, not only covered, youtube will share revenue with you.

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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
If you post them on Youtube, and you agree to display an ad on it, you are covered. Actually, not only covered, youtube will share revenue with you.

This is partly serious - in regards to AZNpiano's probably rhetorical question - are you in fact a lawyer and specializing sufficiently in this area?

Your first comment was something along the line of that we haven't heard in forums of any teacher having gotten into trouble. I've stayed out of the question because I am not a practising music teacher - my profession is elsewhere - and when colleagues advise each other about this matter, I sit back and observe. It seems important that they be informed about the laws in their profession. If you have actual legal expertise then this should definitely be considered. If you are good at googling, that should be considered too.

I only know that the various music professionals that I have encountered have been very careful about copyright - their reputations are at stake, and reputation is very important when you are self-employed as most private teachers are. I definitely would not go by whether we hear about anyone being caught - I suspect that anyone who did get in trouble would not go out and advertise it in a forum.

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Quote

I only know that the various music professionals that I have encountered have been very careful about copyright - their reputations are at stake, and reputation is very important when you are self-employed as most private teachers are.


You meant the students would avoid you like the plague if you post a video with your own arrangement (often a simplified version so a 9 year old student can play) of "yellow submarine" on YouTube?

If you are a video game maker with a billion revenue a year, yes, you need to negotiate agreements for each and every music you use in you game.
No one would go after a piano teacher who makes 60 bulks an hour, it doesn't make any business sense, and it would be a PR disaster.

The worst thing could happen is Youtube takes your video down.

Sometime, we just take ourselves too seriously.

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Sorry, I can't make head or tails out of that answer.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Sorry, I can't make head or tails out of that answer.


Moi non plus.


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He has a point. Youtube covers you in a similar type of way that CreditCards cover you for fraud charges. You don't have to worry about it that much. Youtube assumes ultimate responsibility for the content on their site. If you are not sure about something, they have an algorithm to parse key notes from videos and will certainly send you a notice if they find something that matches copyrighted material. Sometimes the end result isn't that you have to take it down but that you have to allow advertising on your video that will compensate the rightful owner.

Now if you post it on the internet on some other site, like your teaching site, then that is a BIG difference and in that case you are ultimately responsible. Much different situation. In this case you could theoretically get screwed... I mean....Sued.

None of this should be taken as official legal advice or even ethical advice. I'm just stating how it has worked in my experience.

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Sorry, I can't make head or tails out of that answer.


What I am trying to say is, enjoy your music, enjoy your creativity, share your joy of music with your students. If you need to use internet as a tool to achieve that, especially Youtube, use it.

Not to do arrangements due to fear of possible litigation is not necessary.

Having said that, I not suggesting you to sell your arrangements of copyrighted music for money without permissions, clearly, that is neither legal nor ethical, and I didn't think that was OP's intention anyways.

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Originally Posted by blueston
He has a point. Youtube covers you in a similar type of way that CreditCards cover you for fraud charges. You don't have to worry about it that much. Youtube assumes ultimate responsibility for the content on their site. If you are not sure about something, they have an algorithm to parse key notes from videos and will certainly send you a notice if they find something that matches copyrighted material. Sometimes the end result isn't that you have to take it down but that you have to allow advertising on your video that will compensate the rightful owner.

Now if you post it on the internet on some other site, like your teaching site, then that is a BIG difference and in that case you are ultimately responsible. Much different situation. In this case you could theoretically get screwed... I mean....Sued.

None of this should be taken as official legal advice or even ethical advice. I'm just stating how it has worked in my experience.


Google signed a blanket licensing deal with, and paying fees to BMG and all other major music licensing agencies for all copyright infringements. And they have implemented a contend ID system. If a copyright infringement is detected, the video could be taken down, which is the end of the story. However, most content owner prefer to monetize it, by placing ads on the video. If it is a new arrangement, or there are other contributive content in the video, the uploader has rights too, so uploader can share revenue, at the end of the day, everyone wins.

From one of the music licensing company:

Quote

I've made a video. Do I need a licence to put it on YouTube?

If the music used is protected by copyright, then yes. However, YouTube will generally take care of the licences required to stream so-called "user-generated content" incorporating music from its website, so we don't need to issue you with a licence directly.


Source:
https://www.kobaltmusic.com/page-youtube-licensing-faq.php


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Originally Posted by The Monkeys
Quote

I only know that the various music professionals that I have encountered have been very careful about copyright - their reputations are at stake, and reputation is very important when you are self-employed as most private teachers are.


No one would go after a piano teacher who makes 60 bulks an hour, it doesn't make any business sense, and it would be a PR disaster.

The worst thing could happen is Youtube takes your video down.


Not being careless about copyright laws is part of being a professional. As a consumer if I see a piano teacher who is careless about one aspect of their profession I assume they are careless about others. They will not get my business.


Quote
Sometime, we just take ourselves too seriously.


It can be a serious profession.


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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by The Monkeys
Quote

I only know that the various music professionals that I have encountered have been very careful about copyright - their reputations are at stake, and reputation is very important when you are self-employed as most private teachers are.


No one would go after a piano teacher who makes 60 bulks an hour, it doesn't make any business sense, and it would be a PR disaster.

The worst thing could happen is Youtube takes your video down.




Not being careless about copyright laws is part of being a professional. As a consumer if I see a piano teacher who is careless about one aspect of their profession I assume they are careless about others. They will not get my business.


Quote
Sometime, we just take ourselves too seriously.


It can be a serious profession.


If I were a student and my YouTube video were pulled down due to copyright, I would have the impression that 'not legal is ok as long as you don't get caught'... not a good lesson to give to a child.

Monkeys-- the link you provided has additional information that seems like should be included for accuracy: the composer may contact the publisher to have it removed from YouTube. So, the decision can be made by either party.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by TimR
Originally Posted by The Monkeys
Quote

I only know that the various music professionals that I have encountered have been very careful about copyright - their reputations are at stake, and reputation is very important when you are self-employed as most private teachers are.


No one would go after a piano teacher who makes 60 bulks an hour, it doesn't make any business sense, and it would be a PR disaster.

The worst thing could happen is Youtube takes your video down.


Not being careless about copyright laws is part of being a professional. As a consumer if I see a piano teacher who is careless about one aspect of their profession I assume they are careless about others. They will not get my business.

Quote
Sometime, we just take ourselves too seriously.


It can be a serious profession.


I regret some of my wordings, and if I offended anyone, my sincere apologies. Everyone read my posts would know that music teachers have my upmost respects.

The essence of the copyright laws is to encourage the creativity while balance the right of the content creator and the content user.
Yes, music teacher needs to be a role model and not to willfully infringe copy right laws. For example, not to make photo copies of the copyrighted books beyond fair use.

But when it comes to creativity, like rearranging music, when it comes to share the joy, like performing and sharing your performance, don’t let the fear of copyright infringement get in the way. In the vast majority of the cases, you are legally protected. So, feel free to be a music teacher, stop worrying being a lawyer.

Of course, it is a completely different world when you enter the show and publishing business, but this forum is not about that business, is it?


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