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Re: [News] MAFIAA Attacks Children, Professor Accuses MAFIAA of Abusing the Law

Roy Schestowitz wrote:

> Will The RIAA Shut Down Public School Kids From Singing Pop
> Songs On YouTube?
> ,----[ Quote ]
>> Dave Title points our attention to a public elementary
>> school in New York City (PS22) that is making news for
>> putting together a chorus that sings various pop songs (and
>> sings them well!).
>> [...]
>> But, of course, Title wonders how the RIAA feels about all
>> of this:
>> However, this seems like a video ripe for takedown by the
>> RIAA. These kids did not get the rights to perform this song
>> and they are now spreading their cover for free! This is
>> just the sort of activity the record industry seems to keen
>> on stopping - whether it is a chorus of school-kids or a
>> couple of people doing a karaoke version of the latest 
>> Beyonce tune.
> `----
> http://techdirt.com/articles/20090527/0253005023.shtml

I found out that Girl Scouts are not permitted to sing or dance
to a boom box around a camp fire, due to the likes of
organisations like ASCAP.


Starting this summer, the American Society of Composers, Authors
& Publishers has informed camps nationwide that they must pay
license fees to use any of the four million copyrighted songs
written or published by Ascap's 68,000 members. Those who sing or
play but don't pay, Ascap warns, may be violating the law.

Like restaurants, hotels, bars, stores and clubs, which already
pay fees to use copyrighted music, camps -- including non-profit
ones such as those run by the Girl Scouts -- are being told to
ante up. The demand covers not only recorded music but also songs
around the campfire.

"They buy paper, twine and glue for their crafts -- they can pay
for the music, too," says John Lo Frumento, Ascap's chief
operating officer. If offenders keep singing without paying, he
says, "we will sue them if necessary."

No more "Edelweiss" free of charge. No more "This Land Is Your
Land." An Ascap spokesman says "Kumbaya" isn't on its list, but
"God Bless America" is.

Diablo, an all-volunteer day camp that charges girls $44 a week
to cover expenses, would owe Ascap $591 this year, based on the
camp's size and how long it runs. Another composer group, Sesac
Inc., which owns copyrights to such popular tunes as Bob Dylan's
"Blowin' in the Wind," says it plans to ask camps for another set
of royalties this fall.

Even "Happy Birthday" is copyrighted:


The Chicago-based music publisher Clayton F. Summy Company,
working with Jessica Hill, published and copyrighted "Happy
Birthday" in 1935. Under the laws in effect at the time, the
Hills' copyright would have expired after one 28-year term and a
renewal of similar length, falling into public domain by 1991.
However, the Copyright Act of 1976 extended the term of copyright
protection to 75 years from date of publication, and the
Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 added another 20 years, so
under current law the copyright protection of "Happy Birthday"
will remain intact until at least 2030.

Does this mean that everyone who warbles "Happy Birthday to You"
to family members at birthday parties is engaging in copyright
infringement if they fail to obtain permission from or pay
royalties to the song's publisher?  No.  Royalties are due, of
course, for commercial uses of the song, such as playing or
singing it for profit, using it in movies, television programs,
and stage shows, or incorporating it into musical products such
as watches and greeting cards; as well, royalties are due for
public performance, defined by copyright law as performances
which occur "at a place open to the public, or at any place where
a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a
family and its social acquaintances is gathered."  So, crooning
"Happy Birthday to You" to family members and friends at home is
fine, but performing a copyrighted work in a public setting such
as a restaurant or a sports arena technically requires a license
from ASCAP or the Harry Fox Agency (although such infringements
are rarely prosecuted).

The problem lies with the definition of copyright.  95 years is
an unreasonable time.  Almost anything written almost 100 years
ago is no longer considered "music worthy".  A reasonable term
would be something of the order of 50 years, which would
adequately cover the original artist.  The purpose of the
additional 45 years is to protect the interest of companies, not
the artist, IMHO.

This is simply abuse.  A non-profit organisation around a camp
site singing a popular tune is going beyond the reasonable means
of seeking compensation.

Years ago I remember my high school band teacher telling me, that
if I gigged in a small night club or pub, I would probably not
have to worry about copyrights.  However, it seems that nowadays,
for the sake of greed, these companies would go after the small
performers and amateur performers.

Thus, if I perform a popular tune at amateur hour at a small
coffee shop, I/the restaurant are owing to pay a royalty fee,
which adds impetus to not perform at all, which I gather is what
they want.

Then too, if what I perform "sounds like" someone's copyrighted
rendition of a public domain song (and there was some artist
clown some years back who wanted to sue another performer, for
using several notes from his song, a "theme"), then I suppose I
could open myself up for a lawsuit.

It is nothing more than a pretense for greed, IMHO, not much
different than the patent FUD that Linux infringes on Microsoft's
software patents.


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