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GUEST,Songbob Copyright question (14) RE: Copyright question 23 Nov 10

You are the copyright holder for your performance. You don't change copyright for the book itself simply by reading it aloud, but you do get ownership of your own performance -- it's like recording a Bob Dylan song (in Kendall's voice, you'd hardly know the difference anyway). You would owe a 'mechanical royalty' (I think it's called) to the publisher of the book, but that's just a money thing, not an ownership thing.

Then again, you would have to work out how to compensate the makers of the film, wouldn't you? Hmmm... and if you did the work for hire, then you may not cleanly own your own performance. I'd open negotiations with the film-makers to issue a limited number of copies of the film with your narration in place of the actor they hired, and pay them a royalty, just like if you recorded that Bob Dylan song I mentioned. (As an aside, which Bob Dylan song would you record, if you had to record one?)

I don't know how mechanical royalties work in the world of films, since one can't normally 'perform' a film. But as the performer of the narration, I'd think you would have some standing should you want to reissue the film on your own. Who knows? The makers might just like having the film reissued (at no expense to them at all) and become 'current' again. The sales wouldn't be high, I'm sure, though you'd have a number of Mudcatters anxious to buy it. If you approach them correctly, you might get a "why not?" response.

But my guess is that the makers of the film would be the ones to approach, not the writer or publisher of the original book. If you get the filmmakers' okay, you'll probably have to include a few shekels for the book's creators as well, but that might just be subsumed in the royalty to the filmmakers.

Then again, what do I know? I'm just a musician/singer/bureaucrat/citizen/uninterested observer.


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