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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » F/X » » Yet another "copyright music" question (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

threecardmonte
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Is karaoke music royalty-free? I'd like to put a song in my show and change the lyrics. Does anybody know the legalities of this? Your help is much appreciated.
Neil_Brown
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England
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Quote:
Does anybody know the legalities of this?

It would depend entirely on the licence attached to your particular piece of music- it's very hard to generalize about this sort of thing. If in doubt, assume that the normal rules of copyright apply - which means, in the case of England and Wales, that you are not allowed to change the on-screen lyrics.

However, it might be a case of understanding what you mean by "change the lyrics"- I'd suggest that, if you played a karaoke track, and sang your own words, then, this probably wouldn't be a problem, as you are not doing any of the acts restricted by copyright, as far as I can tell. If you were changing the on-screen titles, then, that could be an act restricted by copyright; similarly, because you were doing more than just playing the track, you'd probably need a synchronization licence as well as a PRS licence (for the performers' rights) and an MCPS licence (for the mechanical copying behind changing the lyrics on a computer). This is based on the situation as I understand it in England; other jurisdictions might treat the matter differently- also, of course, this is not legal advice- consult a solicitor for that Smile
muzicman
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LaCenter, Wa
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Interesting question. I play a 3 chord progression that is used quite often in modern music. I will play these 3 chords and begin singing song #1 which everyone recognizes. Without changing the music (Chords, rhythm, ect), I then sing song #2 which again is a familiar song that everyone knows. Again, without changing the music, I go into song #3 which again is a very familiar recorded song. Knowing that the music side is exactly the same in all 3 songs, and only the lyrics and melody is different, and no one got slapped with a law suit, I would say that the law would say your song is original. Now if you copied the music and the melody, and just changed the words, I think that may border on legal/illegal. I am not a lawyer, so don't take my word for anything legal, but as a musician, I know that I can play the same music and just change the words and melody to play a variety of copyrighted songs.
Dan McLean Jr aka, Magic Roadie
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There are at least two copyright issues here. First, most karaoke uses popular songs, and those songs are protected by copyright. If a song is in the public domain, the RECORDING of it is protected by copyright.
Dan McLean Jr
Neil_Brown
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England
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Quote:
those songs are protected by copyright. If a song is in the public domain, the RECORDING of it is protected by copyright.

Lyrics as literary works, music as musical work, performers' rights (potentially), mechanical sound recording... completely agree with you - there's more than just one copyright in a "song", because a song is just an amalgamation of works.

Quote:
Knowing that the music side is exactly the same in all 3 songs, and only the lyrics and melody is different, and no one got slapped with a law suit, I would say that the law would say your song is original.

But if you are singing a substantial part of someone ele's lyrics, that's potentially problematic, and should be licensed.

Also, there's no such thing as copyright in a "song" - your recording of it may be original, and the underlying musical work may be, but, the lyrics may not, if they are collection of copied lyrics.

Again, not legal advice Smile
silverking
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Without getting any more involved than your original question, yes, you would be violating the copyright if you did what you proposed to do.

Karaoke music discs are licensed ONLY for their obvious use, which is playing back the music with some background vocals while you sing along with it, usually in a bar or karaoke contest.

Using the tracks in a magic show, with the vocals pre-recorded (whether they're the original lyrics or not doesn't matter) is illegal.

Using the tracks live while you as the magician sing along with them (live) is illegal because you're not singing karaoke, you're performing magic and using the tracks to entertain the public in a fashion that ISN'T karaoke.

The only music that ISN'T in violation of a copyright when used in public performance is:

a) stock music you purchase either royalty-free, or with royalties attached.
b) original music and lyrics that you've written
c) music that is in the public domain (caution; the actual performance may still be copyrighted)
d) music that you have the written permission of the original writer to use in your performance.
Decomposed
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Eternal Order
High Desert
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Just go with Opus Royalty free and create a loop. No sense in risking a heavy fine these days. Some great music out there I didn't even know about.
Frank Simpson
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SW Montana
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Silverking-

I agree almost entirely with your post, however it should be noted that your item "d" is not necessarily correct. The original writer is not necessarily the copyright holder of a piece of music. Lionel Bart learned this the hard way many years ago when he sold all his rights to the Musical Oliver!. In later years the noted producer Cameron Mackintosh acquired its rights and gifted them back to Mr. Bart.

Similarly, my brother is a recording artist with a contract, and ironically must pay a royalty every time he performs a song that he himself wrote!
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