Copyright Permissions

Hey guys,

Got a client wanting to do some video game music for a marching show next season, and is having trouble finding copyright permission. I primarily do original works and haven't had to do that process for a while. Who do you guys use? CopyCat? BMI?

Well, what can you do? Just have to do the best you can and hope the bad luck doesn't find you.

I think we feel bad about lawyers because we don't know the code we hire them to deal with. 

We are currently not allowed to show any movie of any kind without subitting a written statement to the principal stating how it relates to the exact thing we're studying.

If someone can burn themselves with coffee while driving with it inbewteen their legs and sue McDonalds, we all had better watch our backs.

I'm really nervous being a male teacher in this day in age as well. I've heard some pretty nasty horror stories. In many places simply having a female student accuse you of something is enough to get you fired, even if it's PROVED to be false. Cause if it makes it to the local papers they'll fire ya for bad publicity.....

Yay lawyers.....
From what I understand...

Once you agree to allow a company to publish and sell/ distribute your music, it's up to them what happens to it. I think most companies try to ";honor the composers"; wishes, but yeah they can pretty much allow or deny whoever they want.

If you get permission to arrange it is just for that season, if you get another school wanting to buy it from you they will have to turn around and get permission as well.

I'm sure those lawsuits will go away eventually the same as the Napster lawsuits did. At least let's hope... nothing better than a Pixar flick to occupy the last day before a break:)
Quick question. Say a certain composer detests drum corps/marching band and doesn't want their music arranged for it, is it  his/her decision or the company that publishes the music?

And along those same lines, who ";owns"; the music? The composer or publisher?

Futhermore, if you get permission or arrange a piece for a marching season then decide that you want to sell your arrangement, does the original permission allow this or does that take a different type of licence? Possibly to include royalties?

I currently teach math and our schools have been really cracking down on various copyright issues. Most notably around the time certain companies *ahemdisneyahem* started sueing schools for showing their vidoes.  I suppose in this age if you can be sued you will be.
[quote author=Jim Casella link=topic=2989.msg15971#msg15971 date=1238011762]

Keith Rawlins would be a good resource as well. He's super smart, and understands the needs of music educators. His contact information is available on the [url=]Egbert Law Offices website[/url].

Keith also set up this email to keep his traffic separate from his company business.
you guys are so smart! I love you all. go percussion!
The [i]Copyright[/i] page ( on the Web site that Jim provided in the previous post is an excellent overall info page on copyright.  Also, if you have time, go straight to the source and check out the Web site for the [b]United States Copyright Office[/b] (
Requesting permission to arrange requires contacting the copyright owner and executing some agreement which usually requires a moderate fee (depending on the publisher). Some publishers may deny permission altogether as well, although I never quite understand why people wouldn't want their music to gain wider exposure. To each their own...

If you want to do a quick initial search to locate the copyright owner, usually a good place to start is with [url=]ASCAP[/url], [url=]BMI[/url], or [url=]SESAC[/url]. Keep in mind, these are performance rights organizations (PRO's). They aren't the ones you'll work with to gain permission to arrange. [i]Rather, these are just resources that will help you locate who to actually contact - the actual copyright holders themselves.[/i]

Once you've located the copyright holder of the title you wish to arrange, usually you can use a stock [url=]Permission To Arrange form (available on the Music Publishers Association website).[/url]

If you're interested in learning more about various specifics, there's a lot of very helpful information on the [url=]MENC website[/url].

As mentioned, using a service to do all this for you can be a nice convenience. Jeni Paulson at [url=]Copycat Licensing[/url] has been doing it for drumlines, bands, corps, etc for quite a while now and tons of folks use them.

Keith Rawlins would be a good resource as well. He's super smart, and understands the needs of music educators. Information is available on [url=]his website[/url].
Great advice! I am definitely going to make sure I do this.

+1 for you!
[quote author=erath link=topic=2989.msg15960#msg15960 date=1237932453]
Wow, that's totally uncool. But those are the sorts of stories that really make me pay attention to dotting all of my i's and crossing all of my t's.

Getting a nastygram from a lawyer or publishing company is never fun, especially when you were told by the school that all the copyright stuff was taken care of...Always request a photocopy of the clearance if you do arrangements for out of state groups or groups that you aren't directly involved with.
That was the last year we've used them.  Now we've been using Key Poulan original stuff.
Wow, that's totally uncool. But those are the sorts of stories that really make me pay attention to dotting all of my i's and crossing all of my t's.
[quote author=erath link=topic=2989.msg15946#msg15946 date=1237909279]
[quote author=Cadet311 link=topic=2989.msg15945#msg15945 date=1237908421]
A band I work with did a Les Mis show in 03 (or 04?).  Either way, Hal Leonard wrote us in 2007 saying the permissions weren't secure and were seeking money.  [/quote]

Hey, do you mean that they never got permission and marched it anyway? Or do you mean that they started the process and didn't follow through?

We thought the permissions were secure.  We went through a composing/marching group who told us it was taken care of.  The only reason we believed them is because they'd been great for us for years.  They weren't so great for us that year.
Whomever you use or whatever you pursue, just remember that infringement of copyrighted material whether accidental or for profit is very, very serious in the courts.  [b]Minor[/b] penalties can go from $500 to $20,000 [i][b]per[/b][/i] infringement.  Infringement is often equated to [b]theft[/b].  However, the courts have stated there is a difference.  You can be convicted of infringing on the copyright holder's use that is guaranteed to the person(s) alone.  This is an ongoing debate that I do not have all the answers.  That's why it is generally easier as stated by Cadet 311 to do it right to begin with or it can be time consuming and full of wrong turns if you pursue copyright clearance yourself.  Organizations like ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Publishers, and Authors) have stuck it (legally pursued them in court and won) to people using copyrighted works improperly.  [u]Bottom line[/u]:  Don't be foolish.
Keith Rawlins (Cavalier Alum) is an intellectual property attorney and now offers his services for this type of thing. He says hw will do it cheaper than CopyCat.

I'll post his email as soon as I track it down:)
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