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song writing etiquette.


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I played in this one band last january for maybe 4 months. I had some problems working with the other guitar player so i left.

I wrote this riff and brought it to the table and then i proceeded to write chord progressions based on the same riff. I wrote a few other parts and such.

To make a long story short, they still play the song in their set, am i being wrong for telling them wtf? Since its basically my song do they have any right to still use it?

 

Id like some feedback on this topic.

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Aside from legal proof that the song is your's, I don't know what you can do about it. Maybe ask them to not use it. Did any of them have input on the song? Write a verse, etc.? If others contributed to the song, then they've probably got a right too. I've never run into this kind of a problem, probably because pretty much all of my songs were written 100% by me. I hope you get it resolved to your satisfaction. If not, don't let it eat you up. Things happen, and they're not always things we want. Just got to move-on. Do something even better. [thumbup]

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I played in this one band last january for maybe 4 months. I had some problems working with the other guitar player so i left.

I wrote this riff and brought it to the table and then i proceeded to write chord progressions based on the same riff. I wrote a few other parts and such.

To make a long story short, they still play the song in their set, am i being wrong for telling them wtf? Since its basically my song do they have any right to still use it?

 

Id like some feedback on this topic.

 

Mail a copy of the song to yourself (and don't open it!) That's as good as proving copyright in Canada anyway, should there ever be a dispute of who owns what when the money is split.

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Mail a copy of the song to yourself (and don't open it!) That's as good as proving copyright in Canada anyway, should there ever be a dispute of who owns what when the money is split.

 

Not arguing with you, but in this modern age that's pointless. Without proper paperwork and the things you need to do you don't get rights to material in Amerikur. It's a jungle.

 

Original Poster: Copyright the material and record it yourself, even if on acoustic into a Radio Shack tape recorder. After you get copyright notice you can then take the steps needed to stop them from playing it.

 

There is no etiquette in this, it is all business, all money, all lawyers. Guns. huh. I think there's a song in there!

 

Good luck with it.

 

rct

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It's probably not going to be worth the hassle, I'd take rct's advice on recording it etc. I would first politely call/e-mail them and ask them to stop using that song in their sets. Keep a copy of any communications if possible. Other than that I wouldn't fight much more on it, in the odd chance they go somewhere on that song you can pull out the comms and copyright and at least use the money to pay the legal fees you incur getting that shut down.

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If they contributed anything to the song - lyrics, a rhythm part - then you can do nothing. And even if you ask/tell them to stop ('cease and desist' in legal terms) all they have to do is change a couple of things, and then you would have to sue for plagiarism in order to establish any connection to your original song.

 

Suggestions; get them to give you credit if possible? Unlikely I suppose.

Better, take your tune back by recording and playing it, add something new they can't do or think of....basically, rewrite the tune if need be.

It is a very back-handed compliment that they are still using your material, what that implies is that they can't do any better themselves and that in turn will define the limits of that particular band.

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Yeah I guess they basically took the chord work to it, i didnt write lyrics but alot of solo work they couldnt play.

I guess i still own the rights to that stuff since they didnt take that.

 

 

I don't know how far this stands up in litigation. For example I don't think "chord progressions" are subject.. Melody lines are, as are lyrics. that is why recording the song, (with what ever melody or lyrics were written) make it a viable way to claim ownership. Some of that is yours for sure, and they should have had some contact with you. It was the right thing to do. so IMO where these guys have failed the etiquette test is not asking you if you minded, and promising that if it came up, they would say who wrote it.. the question is how much money are they making off that, and is any of that due to you? Not sure..

 

had a similar issue.

 

A Drummer I'd worked with for a few years wrote a song, he knew enough on piano to come up with chords, the melody and lyrics, and we helped with the arrangement, and took out some of the rough edges, it eventually was part of a recording project we worked on with a bunch of local guys. He asked me if I'd write a double lead part for the song. I agreed, we finished the recording project, and eventually went our separate ways

 

His day gig back then was he owned an Advertising company, they did PR and promotions etc. So I'm watching TV one night, and you know how the cable stations will show local ads during shows, and doesn't an ad his firm did for a local business come on... I hear the double lead part of that song we did in the back ground "Hey, wait a second,, that sounds familiar?"

 

He never told me he planned to use it, and never offered me a dime for it, (and he of course charged his fees for the ad but just used the music with out compensation, while the song was his, the part of the song he used was my guitar tracks. and it wasn't a short solo, it was over a minute and half, and it took me sometime to piece it all together when I wrote/recorded it.)

 

The next time he asked me to join him in a recording project, I told him no thanks, so he asked me why not? I mentioned that I had heard the Ad where he used my solo tracks, he got a bit indignant .. "ya.. so... what's the big deal, hey man, your guitar playing was on TV, you should be thrilled"

 

Thrilled? No - I feel sort of ripped off man... just seemed like a jerk thing to do.

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Not arguing with you, but in this modern age that's pointless. Without proper paperwork and the things you need to do you don't get rights to material in Amerikur. It's a jungle.

 

Original Poster: Copyright the material and record it yourself, even if on acoustic into a Radio Shack tape recorder. After you get copyright notice you can then take the steps needed to stop them from playing it.

 

There is no etiquette in this, it is all business, all money, all lawyers. Guns. huh. I think there's a song in there!

 

Good luck with it.

 

rct

 

"There is no etiquette in this, it is all business, all money, all lawyers. Guns. huh. I think there's a song in there!"

 

Yeah I agree with the last line there! 'Ettiquatte' is for little old ladies and golf courses, 'Excuse me kind sire, would you please cease and desist!' @#$!@!$%%% (insert explitive here) no, no, no.... Don't sweat the little stuff. Going through all the trouble to copyright a peanut is still just a peanut. Hey, maybe you get some exposure by the other guy playing YOUR song, just make sure you can prove it's YOUR song at the end of the day. Few peeps will really ever have to go to dispute intellectual property. Makes ya wonder nowdays, everyone is out to screw everyone. how do you present new material to a band mate in order to rehearse (when you know they as well as you may just walk away anyday and take your stuff with them)? At some level that's prudent and then for most it's not. Do most bands care to take out liability insurance in case they break something at a venue, or contents insurance in case their equipment gets stolen, or a venue license so that they can reproduce copyrighted materials? no. that would take all the fun out of it.

If you want to eat cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off with the little old ladies at tea, then by all means sweat the ettiquette. How many times has some a-hole cut you off in traffic or taken your parking spot? life is a crap sandwich. yeah, and who frankly has the financial means to pursue a civil action against the guy who stole your song? lol

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Johnny, if you didn't write the lyric, you're pretty screwed. They did pass some sort of "signature lick" legislation, but I think that was across the pond.

 

 

Go find them playing it somewhere and record it. At least you'll have a decent demo of your work :).

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I'm afraid Chanman is right. You are, at best, a co-owner of any copyright in the song, and if you didn't write the melody/lyrics, but only the riff, the other party generally has a stronger case than you do. This is why Chuck Berry can't sue every one that does a solo with his signature "4 to 5 against root" bend, and Bo can't sue eveyone that does a "Bo Diddly" beat. At best a court would have to decide that your contribution was significant enough to amount to co-authorship. Just use the riff again in another song.

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This is why I always write the name of my friend on my recordings of his music. I don't feel the need if it is a song by a band that has recorded something I'm covering because it feels like overkill (this was written by Led Zep, or by whoever they ripped off, lol)

but unknown artists don't have the privilige of being so known that it is taken for granted that they wrote it or had song-writers write for them.

 

I heard about the, mail it to yourself trick and it seems great for something you're not serious about but if it is something supercatchy...do it the most solid way...legal stuff.

 

Remember, you came up with it, there's more where it came from. You're the cow! Let them have their glass of milk. You are the COW!

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One ettiquite to consider is that if you co-write and then split up, you can't exactly take it back. It's not really fair to tell them they can't use what you wrote TOGETHER because when you wrote with them, you WERE part of the band.

 

So they are playing a song you wrote with them without you? that's good, not bad.

 

IF they don't want to give you co-writing credit, that's meesed up. That would be a lie on their part.

 

IF that is the case, they aren't giving YOU credit where you came up with this or that, no problem. It's STILL your your stuff. Nothing to stop you from taking the parts that YOU came up with and using them for your own song. For example, if you wrote all the music and they wrote the words, there is NO reason you can't still consider the music you wrote as yours.

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You can copyright lyrics and melody.

Chord progressions and beats are not valid.

 

If a riff was able to be copyrighted .....

 

There's a few "gray" areas here, but....

 

It really boils down to the fact that a "riff" can be "melody", and IF an essential enough part of the song, IS deserved of a share of the songwriting credit and royalty payments.

 

Case in point: Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale".

 

Nearly 40 years after the song was recorded, Matthew Fisher, organist of Procol Harum, sued bandleader/composer/singer/pianist/copyright holder Gary Brooker for songwriter royalties and a share of the copyright, AND WON! His contribution of the signature organ "riff" was deemed (by the British high court) to be worth 40% of the copyright ownership and future royalty payments.

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There's a few "gray" areas here, but....

 

It really boils down to the fact that a "riff" can be "melody", and IF an essential enough part of the song, IS deserved of a share of the songwriting credit and royalty payments.

 

Case in point: Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale".

 

Nearly 40 years after the song was recorded, Matthew Fisher, organist of Procol Harum, sued bandleader/composer/singer/pianist/copyright holder Gary Brooker for songwriter royalties and a share of the copyright, AND WON! His contribution of the signature organ "riff" was deemed (by the British high court) to be worth 40% of the copyright ownership and future royalty payments.

 

 

This is what I was referencing.

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