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.
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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.
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Photoshoot
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Re: Album Artwork

Post by Photoshoot » Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:09 pm

Hi, I have a related question if you'd be so kind. I'm an amateur photographer doing a personal project which involves a series of portrait photographs of local record shop customers who will be holding their favourite vinyl record album with the sleeve artwork clearly visible, and includes a few words about why it's their favourite.

So far I have 26 portraits and am considering a local exhibition in a public library, and may also be looking at a local art gallery. In addition, it's possible I may enter the photographic portraits in photography competitions as representative of my work.

I obtained releases from the people in the portraits prior to taking the pictures. Also, for clarity, the exhibitions will be free of charge and I am only spending money on this project, not making anything from it. However, if I did enter any of the images in a photography competition it's possible I could win something. The prizes typically aren't particularly significant as it's more about the recognition.

There is no question of copyright works being misrepresented or resold for profit, and the scale is small. Also, I'm presuming this would not adversely impact the copyright owners as, if anything, it endorses their product.

That being the case, I'm wondering whether it would be necessary for me to secure permission from every copyright holder (i.e. 26 different albums thus far) as the administrative overhead involved in that would probably make it unviable.

I'd be most grateful for your view.

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Re: Album Artwork

Post by AndyJ » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:27 pm

Hi Photoshoot,

I don't think you need to worry about getting permission. Since the people in your photographs are providing a review or critique of why it is their favourite album, the exception in section 30 should apply to your inclusion of the album covers. The details about whether this project is for commercial purposes (either now or in the future) is not really relevant either from the point of view of infringement or with regard to the section 30 exception. However in the event that a particular record company wanted to be petty and make an issue of your use of their work, I think the fact that this is basically a private project might be persuasive in making them think twice before going ahead, in view of the possibility of negative publicity which such a case would no doubt stir up. If you can, provide details of the artist and album title in each case adjacent to the image or in a catalogue if there is one, in order to comply with the full requirements of section 30. However where a photograph is displayed in an exhibition setting, and there is no catalogue, it would be reasonable to invoke the relevant part of subsection (1) because space would not permit the inclusion of these extra details.

If anyone is holding the Beatles White Album you should be on pretty safe ground!
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Photoshoot
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Re: Album Artwork

Post by Photoshoot » Fri Mar 29, 2019 4:02 pm

Thanks very much for the superfast reply AndyJ which is enormously helpful. And yes, the plan is that the artist and title will be displayed along with the person's comments adjacent to the photograph (and no, I haven't had a White Album yet ;-) )

Cheers and thanks again

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