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I've done a note-by-note piano transcription of Dave Grusin's "On Golden Pond" notated in MuseScore. I am wondering if it would be legal to upload it somewhere for free download? And how about putting a PayPal donation button. I've seen it being requested on YouTube and guys even offer to pay for such a transcription. I did it not because of the money but rather because it was a challenge for me, however I wouldn't refuse a virtual beer in the form of a small voluntary donation wink And I don't want to get into legal troubles though.

Last edited by CyberGene; 05/08/12 02:53 AM.

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There are several forums where people upload transcriptions (i have also done many transcriptions for free) for free download. You need some sort of reproduction license i think if you want to sell them. BUT i think you can upload them for free download on your own blog website and have an optional donation button?? I have considered it also, but i am doing backing tracks, which in Australia is a bit more complicated even if there is no money involved.
Sorry i'm not much help, but i too am interested in the answer!


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Originally Posted by CyberGene
And I don't want to get into legal troubles though.
IANAL

You need a special license to do it, and in order to get that license, you need to negotiate with the original artists. This is why Hal Leonard is basically the only company that actually produces non-classical sheet music legally.

That being said, most people who do what you're talking about do it anyways. The most likely scenario is that the owners of that music or their representatives will send a DMCA request and force you to remove the offending sheet music. No loss of income.

You will, though, be opening yourself up for a possible lawsuit similar to the ones for MP3s, where you'll be forced to pay $50,000 per sheet. I've never heard of a publisher going after someone producing their own sheet music, but it is possible.


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Thank you, I understand.


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Well, I gave it a go and published it in a new blog. It is free for download and there's a donation button. Hope this will go trouble free.

Here it is: http://cyberscores.blogspot.com/


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If you look at http://vkgoeswild.com/ , she does something similar, but she has gotten or is trying to get rights to publish her works based on the original. My guess is that if what you're doing becomes popular, you're going to be contacted by rights holders.

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Originally Posted by appleman


You need a special license to do it, and in order to get that license, you need to negotiate with the original artists. This is why Hal Leonard is basically the only company that actually produces non-classical sheet music legally.


Actually, often even obtaining permission from the original artist won't even be legal. If a publishing company has paid for the rights to publish the sheet music, there is usually no legal way to set up a rival product, regardless of what you do with the profits. It will be viewed as diverting sales away from the legal copyright holder. Of course, it depends on what sort of exclusivity was written into the publisher's contract with the artist, but generally they lock them up pretty tight. Much of this activity goes unnoticed, but if you happen to catch the eye of a big publisher, you can get yourself into some trouble.

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Unless the artist publishes under a form of open licensing (Copyleft, Creative Commons, or GNU Public License), it can be difficult to determine the legalities - but you already know that.
As has been said before, you are safer if you don't try to sell the sheets.

The convolutions of copyright, the rights enforceability, and the legal costs of fighting an unreasonable enforcement when you are protected by the fair use clause, are all muddled for non-lawyers. It also makes it a pain to find and buy good sheets for a lot of modern music.

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There are zillions of guitar tabs on the net, and as far as I can tell, no one has tried to shut that down.

As long as you haven't copied someone else's transcription, my guess is that you're on safe ground. You are using a form of notation to describe what you hear (which may or may not be correct). I think there is a reasonable argument that this is fair use, in that such analysis could probably be considered scholarship.

Charging for such a transcription would muddy the waters a bit more, but a general "donate" rather than a specific "purchase" probably helps there... especially if the page offers multiple transcriptions, so the donation could not even be tied to any particular piece.

But no, IANAL...

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As I see it, if you sell a transcription, (without express permission) you are depriving the rightful copyright owner of income from sales of their sheet music.

If you give away a transcription, (without express permission)you are depriving the rightful copyright owner of income from sales of their sheet music.

Whichever way you dress it up, it is still illegal.


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Originally Posted by R0B
As I see it, if you sell a transcription, (without express permission) you are depriving the rightful copyright owner of income from sales of their sheet music.

If you give away a transcription, (without express permission)you are depriving the rightful copyright owner of income from sales of their sheet music.

Whichever way you dress it up, it is still illegal.

I think that's more of an argument about whether it is ethical rather than whether it is legal (not everything that deprives someone of income is necessarily illegal... for one thing, we'd have no public libraries!)

But regardless, in this case, is there an actual transcription offered by the copyright holder? In many cases, sheet music for songs (or accurate transcriptions) simply do not exist to be purchased. You can't be depriving someone of income from sales of their sheet music if their sheet music doesn't exist. (That isn't to say that they might not have a claim against you for having generated a derivative work, but that's a different argument, and gets back to whether what you've done falls into the murky area of fair use.)

(As an aside, the argument of whether providing something for free deprives someone else of money has been a long-running and complicated argument. Record companies claim every illegal download cost them $, but no one knows how many such downloaders would actually have purchased the item if they had not found it illegally.)



Last edited by anotherscott; 05/09/12 11:02 AM.
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How about recording my performance (played by ear) with a camera above the keys and uploading it on YouTube? This is close to uploading a MIDI file. Which is close to uploading a sheet music.

Everything seems like a very tricky situation. Where's the line. And if I can't upload the video on YouTube, then am I at least free to play it home alone to myself? How about playing it to a guest of mine at home. Three guests, 10, YouTube?


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Originally Posted by anotherscott
There are zillions of guitar tabs on the net, and as far as I can tell, no one has tried to shut that down.



Actually hundreds of tab sites have been shut down over the years. Usually by threat from the legal department of Hal Leonard. The only reason they keep springing up is because the servers are regularly relocated and most are based in countries where the legalities are not pursued, like Russia and Eastern Europe. Tab sites are not legal, they just don't have the ability to shut them all down. A couple of tab sites were allowed to keep running legitimately by paying a royalty fee to Hal Leonard and similar.

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Thanks for the info about the guitar tab sites. I wonder if the chords themselves factor into it at all, or if it is the lyrics that provide the foundation for the objections.

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Originally Posted by ando
Originally Posted by anotherscott
There are zillions of guitar tabs on the net, and as far as I can tell, no one has tried to shut that down.



Actually hundreds of tab sites have been shut down over the years. Usually by threat from the legal department of Hal Leonard. The only reason they keep springing up is because the servers are regularly relocated and most are based in countries where the legalities are not pursued, like Russia and Eastern Europe. Tab sites are not legal, they just don't have the ability to shut them all down. A couple of tab sites were allowed to keep running legitimately by paying a royalty fee to Hal Leonard and similar.


Justinguitar.com was also forced to take down all of the tabs he transcribed and made available with his free lessons.

From his site:
Quote

In early 2010 I was contacted by the Music Publishers Association and told to remove all the tabs (and lyric chord sheets) from my site. I looked into trying to fight it but there was little chance of winning, so instead my lawyer recommended that I try and work with them instead of against them, so that is what I have done!

I am now working in partnership with Music Sales (who are a very cool bunch now I've got to know them) and in return for selling sheet music and tab (through Music Room and Sheet Music Direct) I will be able to get a limited number of tabs free for promotional use. This will be coming soon. We wanted to get the Beginners Songbook up and running first (see below!). This way you get sheet music accurate and checked by me, and the correct royalties will get paid to the songwriters.



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