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  1. #1

    Default Lyrics to Unavailable Song Posted in a Review

    Hi! I was curious about this and wonder what you legal experts thought about it.

    I had written two online reviews on a book and video that I loved. The video is an animated TV special based on the book and posted in "pieces" on YouTube. It is not available in any other format anywhere else in the world (it may be in some TV station's video archive or something, but not sure).

    On this TV special, there are two songs, one could be heard on the videos and one was cut off. I have found out that many people have very fond memories of these songs and are dying to find the exact lyrics to them, but can't find them. I have tracked down pieces of the one song that is not on the video and I have written down the lyrics to the other song. The lyrics, music and anything else about the song (composer, singer, musicians) are not available anywhere that I know of. People seem to really want to know more about these songs, but there is no information anywhere.

    I (now) know that lyrics are considered copyrighted and one shouldn't post the entire lyrics even for criticism. Now I'm thinking of removing them because I don't want to get in trouble for infringement. I am torn, though, because these lyrics aren't available anywhere and people really want to find them.

    Should I remove a portion of the lyrics from my reviews and just put up some kind of link where they can email me if they want the entire amount? Or, do you think it won't be a problem if I leave them up?

    I don't know if it matters, but there are ads for the books (and a poster related to the book) on those sites as well.

    ETA: I also posted the entire lyrics to one of the songs in a comment on another site because people were asking about them.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Lyrics to Unavailable Song Posted in a Review

    What makes you think it's any more legal for you to mail out the lyrics than it is to publishing. In fact, sending them out outside the actual critical piece is entirely without any fair use exception.

    You know the answer. You are allowed to use excerpts for review purposes. Frankly, it sounds like the lyrics aren't even part of the critical use here.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Lyrics to Unavailable Song Posted in a Review

    Please tell me why I can't quote or sing the lyrics of this song in private to a single individual? I am not talking about distributing the lyrics through the mail in masse. But, I would like people to know that I know the whole lyrics to the song if they really want to know it. What if a friend of mine asked hey, do you know the lyrics to the song XYZ and I say, yes, they go da da da? Would I be sued for telling them that? Is it any different than me emailing the same information?

    Also, yes, I am actually critiquing the song as well as it is also part of the review of the TV show. There is a whole section of the review devoted to the music of that show.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Lyrics to Unavailable Song Posted in a Review

    Please tell me why I can't quote or sing the lyrics of this song in private to a single individual?
    Quoting them or singing them privately wouldn't be an issue, but setting them down in tangible form (letter/email) would still be infringing. That said, I hardly think that you'd have to worry about the song's publisher coming after you if they found out you emailed the lyrics to your bestie, because they'd have to prove that such action caused them financial harm.

    Consider contacting the song's publishers and asking for permission to post the lyrics. It costs nothing to ask, and if you present a well researched reason for your request, they may well surprise you with an OkeeDokee.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
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    Default Re: Lyrics to Unavailable Song Posted in a Review

    I expect that copyright would be registered, such that they would be able to claim statutory damages even in the absence of proof of harm, but the odds that they're either going to detect an email between friends or find it to be an offense worthy of litigation are very small.

    The studio that produced the video would have maintained records of its composers, copyrights and licenses, etc. - if it had a decent library of work it will either still be around or will have been acquired by another studio which, similarly, should have those records. It's difficult to say how a studio will respond to a proposal to publish lyrics to an old song - some might view it as good P.R., but others have a reputation for wanting to limit the distribution of anything to which they can claim an intellectual property right.

    An old animated TV special.... prior to the 1980's, the value of music from children's TV productions (and I'm assuming you're talking about something aimed at kids) was considered to be low, and my guess is that you'll find that the song was written by an employee of the company and was performed by studio musicians. There's an interesting New Yorker article on how Haim Saban recognized the value of such music, and how that insight became the foundation of his multi-billion dollar empire, but I digress.

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    Default Re: Lyrics to Unavailable Song Posted in a Review

    Oh, I dunno, I think it's a pretty relevant digression. Much the same has been happening with video game music, where the music from old, out of print games has been fondly remembered and eventually reconstructed by fans - not dissimilar to Desertgal piecing the lyrics to these forgotten TV songs together.

    Rather than chase these fans through the courts, the composers of these pieces have encouraged the fan base, giving rise to the OCRemix community, and large scale symphony productions, most notably featuring composers whose music is featured in games like Final Fantasy, Zelda, Silent Hill, Battlefield, and The Elder Scrolls. These guys have become rock stars in the industry - in the case of Nobuo Uematsu and Akira Yamaoka, quite literally. Jeremy Soule just about gave fans a heart attack when he joined the OCRemix community, remixing his own work and that of others. There's even a well-regarded community that has turned video game music into dance and trance music, and the limited edition CDs sell out within hours of the pre-orders going up. (They have the blessings of the composers, and they pay proper royalties.)

    The way an artist chooses to enforce his copyright - or not, as the case may be - can have a huge impact on their earnings. By encouraging fans to remix their work or reconstruct it altogether, these artists are ROLLING in money, far more than if they had aggressively pursued copyright claims. Fans pay premium prices for symphony performances where one or more composers will be in attendance, CD sales of these performances is brisk, even sheet music flies off the shelf now. Even the US Army Band has performed their own arrangement of video game music, after some of them had been playing around with some themes at rehearsals. SquareEnix was more than thrilled to give them permission to publicly perform the music.

    I find the whole thing fascinating.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
    I'm training for the MS Society's Bike to the Bay - and blogging about it!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Lyrics to Unavailable Song Posted in a Review

    Yeah, but missy, there's often a far cry from video game music and other stuff. It is presumptuous that a composer would find virtuosity in stealing his songs off a tv soundtrack just because some obsolete video game owners think it's cool that some fans have dredged their stuff out of obsurity.

    The composer is known and this isn't fanfic, it's another commercial venture. The OP would do well to air on the side of caution.

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    Default Re: Lyrics to Unavailable Song Posted in a Review

    Err, even.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Lyrics to Unavailable Song Posted in a Review

    Wow, this is very interesting! Yes, it was a children's special and the last time it was broadcast was in 1972 and it has only been broadcast twice in its entire history. The major creators of the work are famous and well known, but are long dead. I know of at least one person involved in the work who is still alive, but can't track him down. There is absolutely nothing I can find out about this special as to who might own the rights to it as if this time (unfortunately, the only copy of this work publicly available, posted on YouTube 4 years ago, has all the credits removed. Attempts to contact the person who posted it has been fruitless). All this lack if info despite winning an Emmy in 1972. All I can find are the name of the main voice over person, two of the names who did the only two voices in the show, the person who did bird sounds and maybe one person involved in the music production, but I think only as an arranger. I think one of the scriptwriters is still around and alive.

    Is there a way I can check in the copyright status of this work? ETA: I just found out that the copyright office charges a butt-load of money to search copyrights before 1978 unless I go there personally.

    In my opinion, I feel that it is in the public's benefit and enrichment to tell people about these lyrics (since they are remembered fondly by those who heard them first hand) but the composer might not feel the same way. For now, I am only going to offer a few lines and tell people if they wish to discuss these songs further to contact me privately until I can find out if it is OK to post the whole thing. I seriously doubt many people are going to ask for the lyrics outright.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Lyrics to Unavailable Song Posted in a Review

    The composer is known and this isn't fanfic, it's another commercial venture.
    Fanfic is also infringement. There are a number of authors out there who will ride down on ficcers like the Wrath Of God. JK Rowling just sued the pants off a guy who collected trivia and developed a "Potterverse" concordance website, and she's been going after the slash-fic community with a vengeance. And don't even get me started on the Tolkien estate.

    I'm not saying everyone should take the game music revival route, just pointing out that reviving old works for new generations doesn't automatically mean lawsuits and claims for damages. It often does, but sometimes a long forgotten artist sees a fannish labor of love and encourages it such that he and the entire community benefit.

    The OP would do well to air on the side of caution.
    Well, sure. Which is why I suggested she contact the copyright holder and ask.

    Is there a way I can check in the copyright status of this work?
    It's definitely still covered by copyright - under various amendments to Federal copyright provisions, works published with a copyright notice between 1964 and 1977 were retroactively granted the full 95 years of copyright protection.

    Your first step would be to contact the production company to find out who holds the rights. If they're out of business, seek out the estates of the creators of the work - they may own the rights, or know who does.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
    I'm training for the MS Society's Bike to the Bay - and blogging about it!

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