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Country
(@country)
Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 10
Topic starter  

Hey, I got a question, I don't know if it was covered somewhere else but I thought I would ask. I have been reading online articles that say sites that host tabs - even those which members have figure out are illegal, are they really? I know you guys have some on here but also have a disclaimer on the index thing. I am just curious because I am still learning by ear and I am not good enough yet to go totally by ear. I am making improvements but still rely on a site from time to time.

Any thoughts?


   
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Elecktrablue
(@elecktrablue)
Famed Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 4338
 

If you take the tablature from a book, like "Beatles Fingerpicking" for example, and copy it exactly as it is in that copyrighted book, or if you scan the pages of a book, then, yes, it is illegal. You cannot "copy, reprint or duplicate" copyrighted material. Most tab sites don't have tabs exactly as they were written by the people who wrote them (except in the case of material posted by the artists/writers/composers themselves where express permission is given). They are generally one individuals interpretation of how they think the song goes. Some are pretty close (but some are horribly wrong, too!!!).

The songs in our database are only available to our members and were posted only by our members and the majority of them are the work of our members who took the time to sit and tab out each song as they play it (not necessarily as it was originally written).

Hope that helps a bit! :D

..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ .·´
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´ -:¦:- Elecktrablue -:¦:-

"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"


   
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Country
(@country)
Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 10
Topic starter  

So whats on here is legal because its an interpretation. Thats what I am asking because like I said in the post I made that I believe you replied to I still have trouble figuring out parts of songs and sometimes need a kick in the butt as I call it to get started, if I posted looking for help would it be legal.


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

So whats on here is legal because its an interpretation. Thats what I am asking because like I said in the post I made that I believe you replied to I still have trouble figuring out parts of songs and sometimes need a kick in the butt as I call it to get started, if I posted looking for help would it be legal.

Copyright is complicated - how else would lawyers justify their fees?

Basically, a copyright is the right to control copies of a work. If it applied to all copies, then all tab would clearly be illegal.

But it doesn't apply to all copies... there's a concept called "fair use". Under certain circumstances you can copy someone's work without it being infringement. Unfortunately, fair use is pretty fuzzy... courts get to decide when it's fair and when it's not.

Some of the arguments that have won out seem to apply to tab sites, or at least what they put in their disclaimers: they're not for profit, they're part of scholarly work, they are excerpts used to illustrate a lesson for educational purposes, etc.

But the argument that a tab is an "interpretation" won't fly... because there's another copyright concept called "derivative works". These are works created that are based on other works (which are covered by copyright).

If I want to distribute exact duplicates of copyrighted works, I could get the permission of the copyright holder... or I might be able to pay a "statuatory royalty" and use them without explicit permission... or I might be able to make a good argument that I'm somehow covered by fair use.

But if I want to distribute "my interpretation" of copyrighted works, I must have the permission of the copyright holder.

So a lot of the disclaimers (including some on GN lessons) that say it's the author's interpretation of a song are really an admission of guilt in a way - I'm not a lawyer, but it seems like you could make a stronger case for fair use of an accurate transcription than you could for unauthorized derivative works.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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kingpatzer
(@kingpatzer)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2171
 

I have a friend who is a lawyer specializing in IP stuff (his focus is around patent law and specifically as it relates to genetic products, he's also got a phd in genetic engineering, anway . . . ) and he seems to basically agree with Note's thoughts about the disclaimers.

When I talked with him, the "this is speculation, not legal advice, and I'm in no way representing you, if you want to know the answer you need to retain a qualified attorney in your area who is appropriately licensed ..." thoughts I got from him where that the best thing to do if hosting or posting tab is to:

(1) break it up into distinct lessons fragments, such as intro, chorus, verse, etc.
(2) use it to teach, highlite, or discuss specific techniques found in those fragments
(3) use mulitple songs at the same time so as to avoid accusations that the above 2 steps were merely a dodge to infringe
(4) explicitely state that the education intent
(5) be as accurate in the transcription as possible, show a good faith attempt to obtain the artists' own transcription if possible
(6) have a body of work writing for similar education purposes which includes clearly non-infringing uses, such as using your own songs or transcriptions for which you have the artists permission, and using songs that are not high on the popularity chart
(7) avoid having index and search functions that are clearly designed to allow people to find a tab for a specific song to play

And if you do all that, you can still get sued, and you can still lose.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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