Talking Newspaper Music Copyright

Copyright matters affecting music and musicians.
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KABTN
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Talking Newspaper Music Copyright

Post by KABTN » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:54 pm

Hi there
I run the Talking Newspaper dept for a Charity. We read from local newspapers (from whom we have sought permission) and the recordings are distributed to our visually impaired clients. Some of our editions are keen to include music on their recordings and cite fair usage/believe we are allowed to use bits of songs. My understanding however is that unless they have created the music themselves then they cannot use any part of it unless they have sought permission from the person who owns the copyright. For example someone wanted to use a recording of the song Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. I assume that they need to contact the person who produced the CD that the recording was on to ask for permission. Is this the case? Does the person/company who produced the CD own the copyright for that version of the song? I think Copyright expires after 50 or 70 years which leads me to believe that anything found on a CD is still under copyright given the technology hasn't been around that long. Is this correct? Is it all more complicated than that?
Thanks in advance.
Louise

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AndyJ
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Re: Talking Newspaper Music Copyright

Post by AndyJ » Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:41 pm

Hi Louise,

Just to expand slightly on the background issues, you are correct that copyright in a recording will be owned by the person/company responsible for making the recording. This copyright lasts for 70 years from the date the recording is first published. But in addition, in order to reproduce the work being performed (a tune or song for instance) you also need the permission of the authors of the music and lyrics. This sounds horrendously complicated, but fortunately you can get a single licence which covers all of these aspects from PRSforMusic. Since you are a charity, there are preferential rates for licences.

However, if you only wish to use small snippets of music, this may fall within the fair dealing exceptions, either the more general categories, such as quotation, or more specifically the category for disabled persons. Much will depend on the reason for wishing to include the music. If it is purely for some secondary purpose, it may not fall into the fair dealing ambit, but if it is to enhance or further illustrate the spoken word then it may well do.
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

KABTN
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Re: Talking Newspaper Music Copyright

Post by KABTN » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:11 pm

Hi Andy

Thanks for this. We only want to use snippets of music to make the Talking Newspaper and Magazine more enjoyable to listen to. No other reason than that really. We send out the information via Royal Mail's Articles for the Blind Freepost service and one of the conditions of use is that we can only include a maximum of 2 minutes of music in any recording so there is a limit to what we can put on regardless of the Copyright issue.

I had a look at the fair use thing and the category for disabled persons information but neither seem to cover our specific situation, unless I am missing something!

Louise

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Re: Talking Newspaper Music Copyright

Post by AndyJ » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:14 pm

Hi Louise,

Taking your last point first, no, you probably aren't missing anything with the exceptions for disabled persons. Generally those exceptions are there to allow a work to be copied into a different format to make it more accessible based on the person's disability. The most obvious might be exactly what you do, translating text into speech for the visually impaired. Or providing sub-titles on TV programmes and films for deaf people.

Then going back to your earlier point, take care not to just adopt a quantitative approach to the amount of a musical work which you wish to use under the fair dealing exception. There are many cases in which copying just a few notes of a song can amount to infringement if those notes form a substantial part of the original work and the purported fair dealing purpose is weak. Using a part of a copyright work must be proportionate to the desired purpose under the specific heading, such as criticism or news reporting. So for instance a quote from a current best seller may be permissible if it demonstrates the author's racy style or her use of a contemporary mode of speech etc. If in doubt, I would advise you to get a PRS licence, especially since you should be able to get a very favourable deal as a charity.
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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Re: Talking Newspaper Music Copyright

Post by KABTN » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:22 am

Thanks Andy. Much appreciated.

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