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Legality of playing guitar?

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Pilot7
(@pilot7)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Topic starter  

I was thinking, and is it technically legal to... (In USA)

Is it legal to download tabs of songs I do not own for the purpose of teaching myself the song on the guitar?

Is it legal for me to play the song on the guitar?

-Is it legal for me to sing the copyrighted lyrics while I do so

Is it legal for me to record myself playing the copyrighted song on my guitar? For purposes of documenting my progress or sending the recording to my family members/friends to show them my playing progress.

Is it legal for me to ask that people pay admission to listen to me play copyrighted songs on the guitar?

I highly doubt it is but Is it legal for me to sell a cd of me playing the copyrighted songs? Not that anyone would want to buy my cd Wink
This question comes to mind because I know people sell parodies.

I was just thinking about all this, doesn't playing songs that others created on the guitar violate a lot of copyright law?


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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Copyright isn't an ironclad 'pay me whenever you use it' thing... there's a legal doctrine called "fair use" that lets people use copyrighted materials in certain situations (like quoting from a book in a review is fair use - provided you're not quoting six chapters!) Fair use is open to interpretation... I can quote a paragraph from a book in a review and I'm fine, but if I sample two seconds of someone's music, I'm not. Courts sort those things out one at a time.

But to take 'em in order:

Downloading tabs won't get you in any trouble. Uploading them might - technically it's an infringement (at least in my opinion) because you're depriving the person with the publishing rights from revenue. People put the little disclaimer on tab that it's the author's research, etc.... but I could put the same disclaimer on a standard notation description and I'd clearly be violating the copyright to post it online.

Playing a song for your own entertainment is perfectly legal. That's a fair use. Same with singing the lyrics... I mean, "Happy Birthday" is still under copyright, and I've yet to hear of anyone getting sued for singing it.

Recording a song for your own use won't get you in any trouble. Sending it to your family probably won't either... there's actually a few cents built into the price of blank CDs that's supposed to go to copyright owners, on the assumption that the media will be used to reproduce some copyrighted works.

Charging admission gets you in trouble. The performing rights organizations (BMI, ASCAP, SESAC) license venues to allow performance of copyrighted tunes. If you're playing in a bar, the bar owner should have already licensed the place. If you're renting a hall and doing your own production, legally you've got to pay.

If you put someone else's song on a CD for commercial purposes, you have to pay the copyright holder.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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Alan Green
(@alangreen)
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If you put someone else's song on a CD for commercial purposes, you have to pay the copyright holder.

As I understand it, they also have the right to refuse to allow you to use their song. Go careful.

Best,

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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Nick Torres
(@nicktorres)
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...and notice you almost never hear "Happy Birthday" sung on film or commercial TV.


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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As I understand it, they also have the right to refuse to allow you to use their song. Go careful.

Not if it's already been released somewhere.

My memory is a little fuzzy on this... I think it was either Paul Simon or Pink Floyd who took issue with someone sampling their music. The way it ended up shaking out was that the artist can withhold permission for a work only until the first release - up to that point, it may be a 'work in progress' that would diminish the reputation, but once it's out there the artist has give the stamp of approval as a finished work.

There is one advantage to having them go along willingly, though - you can negotiate the royalty. If you do it without permission, there's a fixed rate (called a statuatory royalty) that you'll pay, and it might be higher than what you can negotiate on your own.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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yoyo286
(@yoyo286)
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Yeah, as long as you dont charge, its alright. Hmmm.... there's this Beatles cover band called the Eggmen around here and they charge admission to concerts... I'm sure they didn't ask Micheal Jackson(owner of Beatles Copyrights) if they could cover their songs.... :?

Stairway to Freebird!


   
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reasonableman
(@reasonableman)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Yeah, as long as you dont charge, its alright. Hmmm.... there's this Beatles cover band called the Eggmen around here and they charge admission to concerts... I'm sure they didn't ask Micheal Jackson(owner of Beatles Copyrights) if they could cover their songs.... :? At a guess they play at venues that charge. The venue's are probably licensced and your actually paying the venue although they do then pay the band.


   
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Alan Green
(@alangreen)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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In the UK, the venue is upposed to notify the Performing Rights Society of the songs played. I've never known one do so, though.

Best,

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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redneckrocker
(@redneckrocker)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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I seen once on vh1 that CCR's record company tried to sue John Fogerty when he went solo, because he sounded too much like John Fogerty :shock: :?

I mean, really, who is he supposed to sound like?

~Mike the Redneck Rocker.

"The only two things in life that make it worth living are guitars that tune good and firm feeling women" - Waylon


   
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klim
 klim
(@klim)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 269
 

Boy, this subject can be argued until the cows come home.

In Canada as well, all Venues are licenced with SOCAN and a few others for royalty rights. They pay (as do the radio stations), an x amount of dollars per year for the rights of any song available, which is supposedly in return paid back to the original publisher of the song(s). This is normally to cover the costs for cover bands in most cases.

So if you play in a venue of any sort, it's probably covered somehow. If however you setup a stage on your own at your local park and played a series of cover tunes, then probably not.

As for downloading TABS, as Noteboat says, it isn't illegal. Only if you write out a tab exactly tab for tab from say Book of Guitar Songs, then that might be infringing on the person that tabbed it out originaly.

Yeah it's really confusing, as I have for years argued copyright infringement rights on pictures grabbed off the internet for Broadcast use.
My bosses says it fair play, I deem that we shouldn't use it due to copyrights. But they have a hissy fit, when some other broadcaster uses
a peice of video that belongs to us without compensation or acknowledgement.

As for selling CD's with covering someones elses tunes, as long as you are registered with your local Songwriting Organization for Publishing, it probably would be alright, but then you'll have to pay a percentage of your cd for that song.

:wink:


   
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