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#693371 - 02/17/09 09:17 PM copyrights  
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Michael James Moore Offline
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I sent in my 3rd cd 8 months ago and still waiting so i can register my songs with Bmi.Those guys must really be understaffed or maybe they lost my cd? http://www.mjmrecords.com/default.htm

#693378 - 02/17/09 09:28 PM Re: copyrights [Re: Michael James Moore]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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Micheal,

The US copyright office is backed up two years filing copyrights. BMI recieves probably 1000-1500 CD's a week. ASCAP about the same. It is why you usually have to have a representative and develop a relationship to speed the process up. They might not know the purpose for the CD. Might want to check with your rep. If it has been 8 months, it might have been discarded as unknown reason.
With the legal situations as they are, most PRO's, publishers, writers, artists, etc. rarely are able to open packages from people they don't know. We are frankly surprised there hasn't been some crazy person angry because his songs are not cut, to send some anthrax or some other substance. It is a weird world out there.

MAB

#693446 - 02/17/09 11:36 PM Re: copyrights [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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There is no reason to wait until your copyright registration comes back to register your songs with BMI. If your submission didn't come back undelivered you are probably pretty safe. I usually wait a week before I submit any new songs I have just sent for copyright registration.


Ray E. Strode
#693576 - 02/18/09 10:46 AM Re: copyrights [Re: Ray E. Strode]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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I sent one in Aug 07, got the confirmation certificate back in Nov 08, over a year. Once you know that they have received it, it is safe to pitch then.


The more you taste the bitterness of defeat, the sweeter final victory will be

May the flowers of love forever bloom in your garden of life

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#693582 - 02/18/09 11:25 AM Re: copyrights [Re: Everett Adams]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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With the legal situations as they are, most PRO's, publishers, writers, artists, etc. rarely are able to open packages from people they don't know. We are frankly surprised there hasn't been some crazy person angry because his songs are not cut, to send some anthrax or some other substance. It is a weird world out there - Marc

That's another concern; all packages going into the Washington D.C. area are subjected to irradiation machines.

I've had one CD returned to me from the Copyright Office that stated the CD was damaged by one of these machines. I was told to encase my CD in heavy cardboard if I send more through the mail. Better to use the online process.

Another point; I can't help but wonder how the Copyright Office knew my CD was damaged. I doubt that they listen to every CD sent to them. Which leads to another quandary; how do you know your CD's at the Copyright Office aren't damaged?

I can envision going into a copyright infringement court only to find your CD is blank.

Best, John


#693592 - 02/18/09 12:07 PM Re: copyrights [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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John,

I will give you some insight as a friend. I have been in Nashville for 20 years, had five major cuts, been through four or five publishing deals. No one here even files copyrights until something is released nationally. You cannot copyright a title or an idea and they have ALL been written before.

And in this age of rampant downloading, there is really no way to protect anything. It is one of the biggest arguments people have when they come to do this. The copyright office is funded by patents, songs, ideas, inventions, that never go anywhere, are never heard, and simply dissapear. So an enormous amount of money is simply wasted.

In history there have actually been 10 major copyright lawsuits. About four of those were won, the most famous, the George Harrison, "My Sweet Lord" case, where after 12 years and $600,000, George ended up owning the comapny that was suing. It was proved that his former Manager, Allen Klien, had coluded with the original writers of the "He's So Fine" song. So he lost and won.

I know that all of us think we have the most unique song that has never been done, but the truth is that almost all these things have been done. In Nashville we deal with around 2 million songs, written pitched, promoted, etc. a year. Writers are writing continually on their own ideas, and while their might be picking up of an idea, phrase,etc.most of it is unintentional.

So the majority of the lawsuits you hear about are not "won" but settled, by companies, to free up royalties. If you have a song that is being contested, all royalties are held. So until the litigation is settled, nothing can be paid. So when you are sitting on hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, you would rather pay a few thousand to be clear. Especially since it costs thousands in legal fees just to fight these things.

That has also become a very sore spot within the industry and why you get a continually, "not accepting unsolicited material" signs and why publishers, writers, pluggers, etc. will not accept CD's or listen to songs from anyone they don't know.

So you should get some advice from others then make your decision. I tell people to not worry about it, write a lot of songs and go forward. I never copywrite songs because it is simply a waste of time and money for me. Others might have another opinion. But the rule of thumb I have come to live by is that I can almost be guaranteed that any time I have ever done a workshop, seminar, or panel and the people have the copyright form attached, the song is NEVER worth stealing. We are all writing the exact same stuff. In Nashville it is the "twist on the tale" that makes the songs different. the song craft, the intriquing lines, the catchiness of melodies. That is what makes songs different.

In your case, the fact that they sent your CD back and told you it was damaged, means some one either viewed it or put it in a CD player, to know it was damaged. If it makes you feel better for your piece of mind, send another one. But expect another 6-8 months.

MAB

#693601 - 02/18/09 12:45 PM Re: copyrights [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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Thanks for the info Mark! It's great to have an insider here!

This damaged CD happened awhile back. I did send another CD (probably damaged too, they just didn't listen this time).

Since then, I don't register my songs anymore with the copyright office. It's too expensive and takes up time I could be using more productively.

The first song I registered with the copyright office was in the late 50's (your typical C-Am-F-G ballad that was so popular back then)) - yikes 50's!

Anyway, I wanted to check the copyright office to see if that song was still on file. They were going to charge me a couple hundred dollars to find out. Needless to say, I told them to forget it.

Best, John


#693617 - 02/18/09 01:34 PM Re: copyrights [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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John,

The money is actually for aggrivation. I love this that we are asked to register our creative works, and labors of love with the same people that run the Department of motor Vehicles, the industry bailouts, and all the other wonderful things associated with governement. Of course they will charge you, They figure if you are dumb enough to go through these silly processes and then really guarantees nothing in the form of protection, you should pay the price. That's where the money for the budgets come from and I am sure that there will be some of this bailout money that goes to that office as well, to re decorate their offices.
Look, I am not saying people should not desire to protect their work, but when you hear so many songs, multiple titles, the same old same old ideas, stories, and lines, that you just become numb to it. the people always worried the most about having something stolen, never have anything worth stealing, and the people who really do this professionally, NEVER worry about it.
In the past five years I have had 13 song titles, general ideas, similar grooves, melodies, etc. end up as hits on the radio. And that is with me being around the writers of those songs on writers nights, in the rounds, benefits, etc. But I don't claim one of them stole anything because they didn't. We all just think in similar areas. And if one comes up that scoops you, well that is the breaks. You can stay at home and play things for nobody, and be the best writer in your living room. But that is where you will stay.
I say you get out there and hope you write them so good that people don't want to steal them bacause you have done the definitive version of the song. Again, this is all just my opinion,but based upon the biggest waste I see of money, time and aggivation. What you have gone through is typical. Lots of money, lost time and no results. Only the governement can get away with that.
And to think that some people even think they are going to get funding from these people is what amazes me.

MAB

#693618 - 02/18/09 01:36 PM Re: copyrights [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Two Singers Offline
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Marc and John,

I have written 600+ songs, far fewer than you Marc, but nonethe less, a significant number, I have never once registered one with the U.S. Copyright Office. If I were commercially competitive with my writing (don't we all have our dreams!!!???), I might reconsider at that point.

I think what many of the newer entrants into the songwriting arena, as well as a few old-timers, do not realize is that registering your song with the U.S. Copyright Office does not make it any more "legally" protected. The only benefit of that registration, as far as I know, is that should you ever find yourself in court on a copyright infringement litigation/contest, the U.S. Copyright Office is just another tool to help substantiate your claim, assuming your claim is valid. You simply have the U.S. government as one of your allies. They are another voice for you case...nothing more, nothing less.

The second you enter a work onto a tangable medium (disk, hard drive, paper, sheet music, napkin...anything that reveals the content and context of your effort), it is automatically and "LEGALLY" copyrighted once you apply the copyright insignia and your name. It is no more legal, whatsoever, if you register it with the Copyright Office. I always date my copyrights, too. It doesn't hurt to do so.

So, unless you have written the song of the year/decade/century, and suits in the business have agreed to that ascription, I think copyrighting your song is probably a waste of time and money until you have a deal for a "CUT" in ink. However, if you're financially secure enough that the money for registration is insignificant to you, there's certainly no harm in doing so.

Just one guys opinion. Contrary to what my wife says, my opinions are sometimes accurate.

Alan

#693625 - 02/18/09 01:49 PM Re: copyrights [Re: Marc Barnette]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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Thanks Marc.

Yeah, I won't deal with these guys anymore.

You're correct about so many similar ideas out there. Hey, we're all working from the same raw materials.

I do quite a bit of TV background instrumental work. I haven't copyrighted any of those tracks. I guess once there's airplay, they're protected to a degree (or maybe not?).

Anyway, I'm not really concerned anymore about protecting my work. However, if I ever get that once-in-a-lifetime "kill 'em dead", never-been-done-before song, I'll consider registering it.

Best, John

#693627 - 02/18/09 01:51 PM Re: copyrights [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Sounds like solid advice to me Al.

John

#693747 - 02/18/09 08:49 PM Re: copyrights [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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John,

Love your signature line. I couldn't agree more.

Alan

#693770 - 02/18/09 09:51 PM Re: copyrights [Re: Two Singers]  
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Michael James Moore Offline
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That video was great,Marc!I sure wish i could do that in a big studio.I agree there is nothing new under the sun.I send in the whole cd and just register all my songs with the one copyright in my Bmi writers account.Maybe someday i get a check.My songs are all over the place so who knows.Thanks guys

#693775 - 02/18/09 10:14 PM Re: copyrights [Re: Two Singers]  
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Originally Posted by Al David
John,

Love your signature line. I couldn't agree more.

Alan


Yeah, that's me Al - "no fuss, no muss", just get the job done. grin

Best, John cool

#693921 - 02/19/09 12:54 PM Re: copyrights [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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songwritingchampion Offline
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Do you know the real difference between the poor mans copyright and the copyright office? Answer 45 dollars. if you look at the date of creation on your copyright regigration certificate you will see they got it right off your enevople that you sent it in. In other words the poor mans copyright works they just won't back it up because they didn't get their 45dollars. it is all about money today and always has been. Thats my take on it anyway. I know many will disagree but thats my expereience. ---Steve

#693932 - 02/19/09 01:11 PM Re: copyrights [Re: songwritingchampion]  
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LJean Offline
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Does sending your original material, with lyrics and all information by registered mail protect you in a court of law? I was told it would hold up,as long as you don't open the package as the package is dated by the postal service, and have been doing this for awhile. I have spoken to other artists who do the same. It is much easier to do, and costs a lot less (about $10.00 here).

#693933 - 02/19/09 01:13 PM Re: copyrights [Re: LJean]  
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Jack Swain Offline
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No, not really. This is sometimes called a poor man's copyright, but it has never stood the test of a successful court case.

#693936 - 02/19/09 01:21 PM Re: copyrights [Re: LJean]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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Originally Posted by LJean
Does sending your original material, with lyrics and all information by registered mail protect you in a court of law? I was told it would hold up,as long as you don't open the package as the package is dated by the postal service, and have been doing this for awhile. I have spoken to other artists who do the same. It is much easier to do, and costs a lot less (about $10.00 here).


http://www.copyrightauthority.com/poor-mans-copyright/

#693947 - 02/19/09 01:55 PM Re: copyrights [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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LJean Offline
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John....Thank you so much for that link!!!! I have found it most helpful!

#693969 - 02/19/09 02:53 PM Re: copyrights [Re: LJean]  
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Marc Barnette Offline
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John,

Actually that does not hold up any more. We have had a lot of discussions on that exact thing in Nashville by attorney's and other things.

google: Performing Songwriter Magazine/songwriter lawsuits. It should take you to the article from one of the issues last year, which outlines the ten most famous case and mentions changes in the copyright law, which has been updated lately.

In the past few years, NSAI, ASCAP, BMI, and other entities have been working on increasing the royalty rates from 9 cents to 10 cents per copy sold, addressing the licensing issues for digital downloads, ring tones, etc. and addressing the peer to peer and pirating issues. Much of this law has been re-written and new statues are constantly going into effect. You need to consult entities that deal with those issues mainly PROS, publishers, etc. Don't go get some divorce attorney to look over contracts, they are not suited or educated for that.

Basically if I could get people to spend ONE hour on writing better songs and building relationships, instead of focusing on the BIGGEST waste of time, which is copyright and registering non sense, I would have fulfilled my purpose in life.

Let's be real for a minute. Without some solid
networking connections, and real time relationships, your chance of getting anything even heard is not as good as being struck by lighting.

Your chances of getting a top level, writer, publisher, plugger, record exec, artist, is not as good as being struck by lighting in a submarine underwater. You can stick a lighting rod up your butt and stay in a basement, but it would be pretty unlikely you would need to.

If you have a web site, You Tube, My Space,Face book site, great. There are about five billion communications daily on the Internet. Building a billboard in your living room. You have to get people there.
That is why we don't worry about copyrights and such non-sense. You have all been finding out just what we are talking about. The copyright office, PRO's, publishers are all so backed up it gets years to work through this. They lose CD's from people they don't know.
As a publisher, plugger, record company, when you have two hundred songs on your desk you have to go through in two hours, another two hundred on your desk you have listened to and have to try to do something with and another 500 in a basket you are trying to throw away, and these are ALL from people you know who have referred them to you, you just ain't going to somebody's web site to hear their song. Period.
So my advice is get it out there, take your chances, suit up for the game. This is the real world. Trust me, nobody is stealing songs. That is non-sense passed around from people who are as clueless as you can imagine.

All that song theft non-sense would resonate with me if it wasn't some guy who lives with his mother and has never been outside of his living room, trying to sue someone like Jeffery Steele. Jeffery Steele is the top writer in Nashville. In six years he has had 800 cuts, 87 singles, 12 number ones. he has made the careers of Montgomery Gentry, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, George Straight, and damn near every new artist that has come out in the past five years. Lately he has spent a lot of time in LA writing with Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Costner and other Hollywood "A" Listers who are trying to be singers.
He writes two songs a day, and at any one time has between 20 and 30 cuts floating around out there, not to mention up and coming artists, every new one coming to him, every other hit writer trying to work with him, every record company after him to write with their current and future artists or to save an artist about to be dropped from their label.
He has been BMI's writer of the year multiple time and probably makes around 10 million dollars a year. Trust me, the practicioners of this art would not be up there if they had to steal ideas. They might get a chance but staying up there 6-7 years? Not a chance.

So before a lot of effort and money is expended protecting something, best make sure you have something worth protecting. And remember. you compete against people like myself and Rand, who do this every single day, run in the right circles and have sacrificed everything for this life. it is a pretty good one and we really do want all of you to see it. That is why we do what we do, and along the way if we have a service, book workshop,or song that you like, the more the better. But we do all of this because we care, and we want better writers. And because you ask questions, participate in discussions, and want to better yourself through things like this, you deserve it.

MAB

#693973 - 02/19/09 03:09 PM Re: copyrights [Re: Marc Barnette]  
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 6,561
Mark Kaufman Offline
Mark Kaufman  Offline

Top 40 Poster

Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 6,561
Minneapolis
I'm SO glad I've always been too broke and lazy to bother with copyright...

#693974 - 02/19/09 03:12 PM Re: copyrights [Re: Marc Barnette]  
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 9,109
John Lawrence Schick Offline
Top 20 Poster
John Lawrence Schick  Offline
Top 20 Poster

Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 9,109
PA
Hi Marc,

Actually the link I provided stated the poor man's copyright doesn't hold up anymore. It gave reasons why it doesn't. I'm sure we agree on this.

I agree 100%; our priorty should focus on the music, not the protection there of.

Thanks for your interesting posts Marc!

Best, John


#693978 - 02/19/09 03:17 PM Re: copyrights [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 156
jmsocia Offline
Serious Contributor
jmsocia  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: May 2008
Posts: 156
Being a numbers person this is my favorite stat. In regards to Jeffrey Steele, "In six years he has had 800 cuts, 87 singles." Hell he's an INCREDIBLE songwriter and still only about 10% of his cuts are actually singles.

Last edited by jmsocia; 02/19/09 03:17 PM.
#693984 - 02/19/09 03:32 PM Re: copyrights [Re: jmsocia]  
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,654
Emily Sanders Offline
Top 100 Poster
Emily Sanders  Offline
Top 100 Poster

Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 4,654
Santa Monica, CA
Hi, Marc,

I just read your post about copyrights...It's one of the best and most informative posts I have seen on this site on the subject. Thanks for sharing your professional wisdom and practical advice smile WOW!

Emily


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