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Collaborations Between Creative Commons And Pro Members

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Does anyone have any experience or insight into the situation in which a composer and lyricist collaborate with the music being released under a Creative Commons license (specifically, in this instance, CC-BY 3.0) while the lyricist is a member of a performance rights organization (in this instance, SOCAN) and does not choose to use a CC license?

I’m not sure what I want to know about it because... well, it’s what we don’t know we don’t know that’s the danger zone.

I understand that no one may distribute a recording of the song or perform the song without the lyricist’s permission (which could be indirectly, through a PRO license). And I realize that no one may make a derivative work that uses those lyrics (though they’re free to re-use the music) without his permission.

But... can a member of a performance rights organization waive the requirement for royalties regarding a particular use of a particular work? (I tried to research this today and so far have come up with no clear answer.) He’s given me permission to include the sheet music and my recording of the song on my web site. Is that permission valid, or does SOCAN “take over†regardless of his permission for this exception?

For a different example: if an ASCAP member writes a song and posts a recording of it here on Songstuff, can ASCAP still complain if Songstuff doesn’t have an ASCAP license, even though the writer clearly intended for the work to be available here royalty-free?

Edited by Coises
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  • 3 weeks later...

And as usual, whatever you do, and preferably before you start doing it ... sit down, write a letter to yourselves -- that is to say, an agreement amongst yourselves, a written statement of your undestanding. Both of you sign it and date it and each of you keep an original-signed copy. Whenever you decide something, write and sign another page. Both of you keep all of them in a file-cabinet drawer or banker's box ... basically, forever. You don't have to notarize it; you don't have to hire a lawyer. Just write it down, whatever it is, sign it in your own hands and date it in your own hands. Each keeps a copy that is demonstrably identical to the other.

This does two things. First of all, it causes both of you to think! What are your understandings, really? Have you thought it through? ("Now would be a good time, Scotty...") When you see things writ down in black and white, that just triggers different pathways in your brain than a handshake does. It prompts you to consider things that maybe you hadn't thought of yet, just by sitting together and hashing it out and writing it down. You can always change it later. In writing, of course.

The second thing that this does is to give any third-party something that they can objectively look at and consider. Maybe they want to license it! :jumping25: But first, they want to know what they're getting into. (And, so do you!) They properly want to be sure that their :vuur1: is covered, legally speaking. They want to do due diligence, 'cuz they can't run the risk of not doing so. They're going to want to make copies of what they looked at for their assterisk-covering files. And that is when the old Boy Scout motto pays big. Nothing says "pro" more than preparedness.

I really enjoyed watching Judge Wopner go in the original People's Court. Time after time after time, former-friends appeared in his courtroom and they said they had an agreement and that it had gone wrong and ... time after time ... they actually had nothing objective to look at; they had no idea what the agreement was. Something had happened that neither of them had anticipated or considered. The judge had to make a straight judgment-call and of course no one was happy ... but, what else could he have possibly done? Wopner always said, "Get it in writing." Even when someone handed a single piece of paper to the baliff, you could see JW's visible signs of relief.

Edited by MikeRobinson
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