Album Artwork

Copyright matters affecting music and musicians.
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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Fri Mar 22, 2013 5:47 pm

Typo,
The fact that the work on the CD or DVD is identifiable is perhaps important to what KJR proposes, in that it is not just any old blank CD, but one which purports to be an album of music by a particular artist. But that does not change the situation from the point of view of the artist and/or rights owner of the sound recording.
Let's look at the moral rights of the artist(s) who perform on the album. They have a moral right for their work not to be subject "to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, the said work, which would be prejudicial to [their] honour or reputation." (Berne Convention Art 6 bis which is the source for section 80 in the CDPA). I remain to be convinced about how melting a CD or DVD so that it can no longer be played actually distorts, mutilates or modifies the actual songs being sung. What that melting treatment does is to make the songs both unplayable and unrecognisable. I think you would recognise that as a consequence of the doctrine of exhaustion of rights, a legitimate owner of a copy of a work, be it a book, CD or photograph, has the right to destroy his copy, along with several other means of disposal. What KJR proposes is simply an exercise of that right.
As far as the copyright in the sound recording is concerned, the CDPA does not advance any moral rights to the producer, so there is no cause of action there.
There is very little caselaw on the subject of derogatory treatment, but what exists*, along with recognised authorities such as Laddie, Prescott & Vittoria or Copinger & Skone James, takes a very narrow view of this moral right, and make it clear that there must be damage to the honour or reputation of the author arising from the mutilation etc. Clearly it would be extremely hard to build any case on the proposition that melting a DVD impugned the honour of the artist whose songs were on the disk.

* the best example is Confetti Records v Warner Music UK Ltd [2003] EWCh 1274 (Ch) see paras 145 -162.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

mtaylor
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Re: Album Artwork

Post by mtaylor » Thu Mar 07, 2019 4:10 pm

Hi
Two questions regarding album covers and lyrics

I am in the process of writing a book about a certain singer-songwriter and would like to include images of their album covers. Do I need permission and is it likely to be expensive?

Also in the same book I am hoping to use lines of lyrics written by the artist. Do I also need permission for this.

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AndyJ
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Re: Album Artwork

Post by AndyJ » Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:55 pm

Hi mtaylor,

I assume that your proposed book would be intended, in part at least, to review or critique the particular singer/songwriter's works. On that basis I think that the fair dealing exception for that purpose (see section 30) should be sufficient to cover what you wanted to do, provided that the illustrations were not overly large or high resolution, ie they were a shorthand reference to the particular album under discussion. The other important aspect is that each illustration of an album cover must bear a credit (I suggest something like 'Album Title, record company which released it and date of release') to comply wth the fair dealing rules.

If the singer/songwriter remained with the same record label throughout the period under discussion, you could try approaching that company for permission, but dealing with a number of different labels could get complicated, especially if some said no to your request. I have no idea what the cost of a licence fee would be in such cases, and it would probably vary wildly between the different labels. The record companies are relevant here because they will own the copyright in the artwork on the album covers in most instances.

The lyrics are a separate matter. Copyright in them will initially belong to the songwriter, but in many instances this copyright will have been signed over to a music publisher. But it may not be necessary to get permission to use short quotations of lyrics, as the same fair dealing exception should cover what you want to do. However it is important to note the word 'fair' and what it means in this context. That is to say, you should only quote something in order to illustrate or exemplify the point you are making in your text, and you should use the least amount of the lyrics necessary to make that point.

However if your book is largely biographical with little or no critical analysis of the singer's works, it might be wise to get permission, as it is probably stretching the provisions of section 30 too far if that aspect is absent.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

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