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#1699351 - 06/21/11 01:21 PM Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs?
MathTeacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/25/11
Posts: 256
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I transcribe pop hits a lot. The problem with piano scores from songbooks are that they are only intermediate level, lacking in greater detail like other instrumental melodies during the song, more chords are needed, and verses are usually written out as exact repeats when in fact they are somewhat different from each other. Chorus changes in intonation are not shown in these music sheets, and usually instrumental solos in the songs are entirely omitted. Sometimes certain bars are missing altogether for simplicity.

So I make these lackluster arrangements to an advanced version, usually as advanced as possible for two hands. The end results sound much better than the available scores in my opinion. Some of the songs have never been transcribed at all even. Having done so many of these, and of very popular songs from the past decades, I was wondering if I could start up a website for people who have the same complaints about the available arrangements of their favourite songs. Is it legal to put a price tag on these "embellishments" of mine, or do my scores still belong to the original publishing houses that made the first piano transcriptions?


Edited by MathTeacher (06/21/11 01:28 PM)

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#1699362 - 06/21/11 01:41 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
scotpgot Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 128
I believe that unless they are "arrangement" (significantly different than the original work), which they obviously are not, they fall under the copyright protection of the original artist/owner.

So, yes - illegal (far as I know).

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#1699383 - 06/21/11 02:12 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
beeboss Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: uk south
Even if they are an 'arrangement' you still have to compensate the composer. Probably you have to get permission from the composer and register your 'arrangement' as well.
_________________________
http://www.youtube.com/davebeeboss

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#1699388 - 06/21/11 02:27 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: beeboss]
MathTeacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/25/11
Posts: 256
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Ok. But there are several websites that sell midi files of songs. I kind of doubt that they have permission from every artist. Or perhaps they do. I don't know.

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#1699391 - 06/21/11 02:36 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20752
Loc: Oakland
There are lots of people selling heroin and methamphetamine. That does not make it legal.
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Semipro Tech

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#1699393 - 06/21/11 02:40 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
No, it's not legal. Buy a license.
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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#1699583 - 06/21/11 09:01 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
Scott Coletta Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/11
Posts: 514
Loc: Chicago
Here's a good source for the answer to your question and a million other legal issues in music.

http://www.amazon.com/Kohn-Music-Licensi...4378&sr=1-1


You can get the second edition used (it's just as good)for next to nothing:

http://www.amazon.com/Kohn-Music-Licensi...4158&sr=1-1

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#1699662 - 06/22/11 01:28 AM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
BadOrange Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/11
Posts: 368
Loc: Banned
you would have to get a what is a called a folio licence from the publisher. The good news is that you don't have to pay for a mechanical licence. This is only if you plan to exploit it commercially. If you aren't selling it , you can do it.

But just because something is illegal does not mean you will actually get in trouble. If you are making enough money, be prepared to get served a cease and desist with perhaps a nice notice served that you are being sued.


Edited by BadOrange (06/22/11 01:30 AM)

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#1699690 - 06/22/11 03:08 AM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
sportsdude2060 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/14/10
Posts: 133
It's most certainly illegal; however, there is a simple workaround. Simply list the available transcriptions on your website without any type purchase link and then offer to send customers the sheets of their choice in exchange for a "donation" of some sort(typically via paypal, for an amount negotiated by email).

Legitimate pianists do it all the time. For instance, http://vkgoeswild.com/

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#1699937 - 06/22/11 01:13 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17698
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
I like Vika's arrangements and have bought, er, donated for, a few myself. However, I think the proposed solution is still illegal, according to U.S. law. The violation occurs when you publish a derivative work without obtaining the right to do so from the original copyright owner. Whether you charge for that derivative work or give it away free is irrelevant.

It could be that copyright law is different, or equally likely, not enforced in Vika's home country. (Russia? I forget.)
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1700009 - 06/22/11 03:31 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: Monica K.]
MathTeacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/25/11
Posts: 256
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Yes, Vika's webpage
http://vkgoeswild.com/?section=sheets

is precisely what I had in mind for my own transcriptions (and based on her sample, I think mine might be a bit more advanced than hers). Anyway, so bottom line: will she be going down anytime in the future? Don't be surprised if you see a new webpage like this sometime soon.


Edited by MathTeacher (06/22/11 03:33 PM)

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#1700108 - 06/22/11 07:13 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
It's still illegal, IMO. There is also, IIRC, new legislation that tightens up this issue, but I'll check that out and report back. In short, I would not do it. It's not legal and it's not right - in that the artist/creator is not getting paid; to-wit:

http://youtu.be/mj5IV23g-fE

Cornell has a good site:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/usc_sup_01_17_10_5.html





Edited by daviel (06/22/11 08:00 PM)
Edit Reason: cornell
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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#1700136 - 06/22/11 08:32 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
azandj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/10
Posts: 45
Loc: Texas, USA
I myself do not know about the legality of selling such transcriptions, but I thank you for making them. Most of the modern pop music songbooks for piano are rubbish. I am fascinated by the difference in the quality between songbooks from the 70s and earlier compared to those that are published today.
_________________________
Home piano: Yamaha P2 upright

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#1700156 - 06/22/11 09:40 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: azandj]
MathTeacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/25/11
Posts: 256
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By: azandj
I myself do not know about the legality of selling such transcriptions, but I thank you for making them. Most of the modern pop music songbooks for piano are rubbish. I am fascinated by the difference in the quality between songbooks from the 70s and earlier compared to those that are published today.


Exactly. We are actually doing good service here. The piano pop songbooks are simplified purposely so as to increase their marketability to include people with limited playing skills. For those who can play well and want their songs to sound as good as possible, there's currently no such publications. We need these transcribers.

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#1700159 - 06/22/11 09:46 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: sportsdude2060]
kpembrook Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1252
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: sportsdude2060
It's most certainly illegal; however, there is a simple workaround. Simply list the available transcriptions on your website without any type purchase link and then offer to send customers the sheets of their choice in exchange for a "donation" of some sort(typically via paypal, for an amount negotiated by email).

Legitimate pianists do it all the time. For instance, http://vkgoeswild.com/


The "workaround" is not legal. Read and understand the meaning of "copy right". It means that the owner has the exclusive right to make copies --or control through whatever arrangement they want the making of copies. The law does not have anything directly to do with payment -- although a compensation is normally a part of a licensing arrangement. But that's up to the copyright holder. If they want to license for free, they can, but somebody else can't just presume upon their generosity.

It's the same as someone bringing copy Fender or Gibson guitars into the US. It doesn't matter if they would be given away for free (how would you like that if you were Gibson? Would you feel better that what you owned (the design) was being given away for free instead of people making money on it? It still wrecks your market.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#1700166 - 06/22/11 09:55 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: kpembrook]
Lefty Chev Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/11
Posts: 377
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: kpembrook

The "workaround" is not legal. Read and understand the meaning of "copy right". It means that the owner has the exclusive right to make copies --or control through whatever arrangement they want the making of copies. The law does not have anything directly to do with payment -- although a compensation is normally a part of a licensing arrangement. But that's up to the copyright holder. If they want to license for free, they can, but somebody else can't just presume upon their generosity.

It's the same as someone bringing copy Fender or Gibson guitars into the US. It doesn't matter if they would be given away for free (how would you like that if you were Gibson? Would you feel better that what you owned (the design) was being given away for free instead of people making money on it? It still wrecks your market.


With the disclaimer that I'm not a lawyer, I don't believe just copying something violates copyright law. There needs to be damages as well. As far as I understand it, you can transcribe music for your own personal use, but distributing it is a different story. I can also build a guitar for myself that looks just like a Les Paul, but I can't sell it with "trademark" headstock, exact body shape or logo.

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#1700206 - 06/22/11 11:32 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: kpembrook]
sportsdude2060 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/14/10
Posts: 133
Originally Posted By: kpembrook
Originally Posted By: sportsdude2060
It's most certainly illegal; however, there is a simple workaround. Simply list the available transcriptions on your website without any type purchase link and then offer to send customers the sheets of their choice in exchange for a "donation" of some sort(typically via paypal, for an amount negotiated by email).

Legitimate pianists do it all the time. For instance, http://vkgoeswild.com/


The "workaround" is not legal. Read and understand the meaning of "copy right". It means that the owner has the exclusive right to make copies --or control through whatever arrangement they want the making of copies. The law does not have anything directly to do with payment -- although a compensation is normally a part of a licensing arrangement. But that's up to the copyright holder. If they want to license for free, they can, but somebody else can't just presume upon their generosity.

It's the same as someone bringing copy Fender or Gibson guitars into the US. It doesn't matter if they would be given away for free (how would you like that if you were Gibson? Would you feel better that what you owned (the design) was being given away for free instead of people making money on it? It still wrecks your market.


I didn't claim it was, and it doesn't have to be. The "workaround" is designed not to soothe your conscience but rather to help you not get caught, and case studies show it's highly effective (note the fact that "legitimate" (i.e. perform in the public light), well-known pianists do it often without consequence). Perhaps I should have emphasized that in my post, but please don't lecture me on copyrights.


Edited by sportsdude2060 (06/22/11 11:35 PM)

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#1700207 - 06/22/11 11:34 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Whatever happened to morality? Opps...forgot...its obsolete now! Today, its "get away with whatever you can" until they come after you. Nice.

Nice that is until an intellectual property that you have created (read: music) is ripped off by some creep transcribing/recording/whatever without your permission.

When that happens to you, then you will change your sorry-xxx tune and scream bloody murder.

Here's a radical thought....try and do the right thing, and actually compensate the artist for their work.


_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1700221 - 06/22/11 11:46 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: rocket88]
sportsdude2060 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/14/10
Posts: 133
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Whatever happened to morality? Opps...forgot...its obsolete now! Its get away with whatever you can. Nice.


Haha, now you're catching on. wink

Originally Posted By: rocket88

Obsolete that is until an intellectual property (read: music) that you have created is ripped off by some creep transcribing/recording/whatever without your permission.

When that happens to you, then you will change your tune.


I don't know... If I'm were to make millions of dollars recording tracks with auto-tune and then lip syncing a few concerts, I really wouldn't be worried about the a few hundred dollars made by some random guy transcribing my music. Shoot, if I were to make millions of dollars as part of a band with real talent, I still wouldn't mind. But if I were just starting out, I can see how that might be troubling.

Then again, research indicates that the spread of pirating has actually led to direct increases in artist revenue, due to the greater exposure it provides.

Originally Posted By: rocket88

Just try and do the right thing...compensate the artist for their work.


Yeah, it is the right thing to do, but it's too much work.

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#1700227 - 06/22/11 11:51 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
And down the tubes we go with that style of thinking.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1700234 - 06/22/11 11:59 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: rocket88]
azandj Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/24/10
Posts: 45
Loc: Texas, USA
I think if I was a pop singer who actually CARED about the music, I would appreciate someone promoting my music in a beautiful way. True, that does not make it any more legal, but it's just a thought.
_________________________
Home piano: Yamaha P2 upright

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#1700235 - 06/23/11 12:00 AM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
Apparently not many of the forumites here write their own original music. What is the objection to the artist getting paid? I can't understand the willingness to steal from other artists.
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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#1700236 - 06/23/11 12:02 AM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: rocket88]
MathTeacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/25/11
Posts: 256
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I couldn't get hold of all the original artists even if I tried.

How about this. Somewhere in my website, I will state that the original artists may contact me to collect their royalties.

Musicnotes has done this to save their butt:
http://www.musicnotes.com/publishers/unknown.asp
Mind you, they REALLY hid their link to this page though (go ahead and try to find their link starting at their homepage). But that's just the publishers not getting paid by musicnotes. And the original artists?


Edited by MathTeacher (06/23/11 12:10 AM)

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#1700274 - 06/23/11 01:40 AM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
jotur Online   blank
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5279
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
You could take your transcriptions to a publisher, who would get the permissions for you, if they thought it was worthwhile to publish your transcriptions.

You don't necessarily have to contact each and every artist - there are agencies that handle permissions.

It doesn't appear to me that you really wanted to know if it was illegal or not - you're pretty determined to do it whether or no. Maybe you just wanted to know how likely it was that you got caught, or what the consequences might be if you got caught? I dunno - I'm just not sure why you asked at all.

I think I heard somewhere tho that a measure of a person's character was what they do when no one's looking - or if they don't get caught.

Just sayin' smile

Cathy
_________________________

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#1700322 - 06/23/11 04:33 AM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4974
Loc: boston north
I would like to see more advanced transcriptions available. There are some collections out there so getting them published would be the way to go.

Jotur has the right idea.

And I just bet that a publisher would be interested!
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1700494 - 06/23/11 11:38 AM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
Regarding the idea of a link on MT's webpage inviting the artists to send him a bill:

Oh, that's the ticket! put the burden on the artist. Why don't you just obey the law? There are companies that handle licensing. One of my bandmates is getting licenses for a CD we are mixing. It's not rocket science. Just do the right thing instead of ripping off the artists.

Are you really teaching math to students? Do your students smoke pot in class?
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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#1700524 - 06/23/11 12:31 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17698
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
I agree with Cathy. Before deciding that getting the appropriate permission is impossible, why not try? I'm very curious as to how much the license would cost per song. It might be a very reasonable token fee, and it could be as easy as contacting just a couple of organizations that represent a lot of different artists. I don't know. But if you took the effort to make the inquiries, you might be able to rationalize better to yourself that getting the legal ducks in a row was just too insurmountable. wink
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1700669 - 06/23/11 04:22 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: lilylady]
MathTeacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/25/11
Posts: 256
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By: lilylady
I would like to see more advanced transcriptions available. There are some collections out there so getting them published would be the way to go.

Jotur has the right idea.

And I just bet that a publisher would be interested!


I'm not sure about that. Advanced transcriptions of pop songs would be a niche market I think. Only a minority of people would play them without frustration. I don't think there would be much profit for the publishers. Otherwise, Hal Leonard would have published such transcriptions long ago.

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#1700854 - 06/23/11 09:54 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: Monica K.]
kpembrook Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 1252
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
why not try? I'm very curious as to how much the license would cost per song. It might be a very reasonable token fee,


It might be easy, indeed. My wife, who is a violinist, has done some transcriptions of both pop and classical stuff into arrangements for string trio. (Beatles, folk) When the trio (Three Belles With Bows) did a CD, they had no trouble getting permissions and the cost was very reasonable. There was only one artist's agent that didn't reply quickly.
_________________________
Keith Akins, RPT
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair

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#1700901 - 06/23/11 11:21 PM Re: Is it legal to sell advanced transcriptions of songs? [Re: MathTeacher]
BadOrange Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/11
Posts: 368
Loc: Banned
to the person that asked how much ? about 10 -12% of retail but considering you are on the internet and you probably won't be selling many ,i really doubt they would even respond. The phone call itself probably costs more than their potential income.

Contact the publisher. If they don't offer some sort of arrangement, just go ahead and do it yourself. The worse case scenario in your situation is a cease and desist order.

Ideally, you would need a publisher on your behalf to arrange this. Perhaps approach a publisher first and go that route.

either way , you won't be making any money.

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