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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Celtaddict 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write (56* d) RE: 'Royalties' on songs one didn't write 23 Mar 10

RTim, if a collector finds and publishes a song not previously published, he is entitled to royalties on his own published work. That is another area, and while it seems fair the collector should receive payment for his work, it also seems somewhat unfair that the singer/preserver of a 'traditional' (in the sense that the originator is no longer known) does not. And of course there have been many musician/collectors who have taken previously uncopyrighted material and copyrighted it themselves, sometimes as they found it and sometimes with their own variations.

This current concern is no such issue. It involves a large number of songs, of both traditional and contemporary origin, and a surviving family member's claim that the deceased 'owns' all the songs sung over a long career! I know there is no legal basis for this, but unfortunately the survivor has managed to buffalo a number of musicians into accepting this wrong premise; I think the musicians are attempting to honor the memory of the deceased by respecting the expressed 'wish' of the survivor, but I disagree with the idea. To me, not speaking about or singing songs learned from a performer no longer with us not only benefits no one but seems to diminish the respect to the deceased performer. How much stronger a legacy it would be to have the songs one made familiar widely sung in memory, coupled where possible with tales of the singer! Since a legal challenge to try to collect money from people performing songs not copyrighted by the artist would fail at once, it seems shortsighted of the survivor to fight these songs being performed and can even make the musicians who freely admit they owe a good deal to the performer appear less respectful if they no longer speak of the performer or perform songs learned from and popularized by that source.

John P: I agree absolutely but am at a loss how best to proceed with such a lesson. Some of the other musicians involved are highly respected in their own rights, too.

Sorry about the circumlocutions; I am trying not to 'name and shame' though it is somewhat tempting.

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