Summer/Copyright laws

So far this summer has been filled with a lot of events as well as vacations and work.

I am excited to say that I finally got feedback from a euphonium artist after one year of handing the solo to many professional euphonium artists at ITEC 2010 in Tucson, AZ. Gretchen Renshaw, masters performance major from University of Arkansas, was the first person to send me feedback! I hope to send her a few more pieces and eventually work on collaborations.

I’m also excited about a new project that I’ve been investigating in. For the first time, I have been asked to arrange the Blades of Toldeo for Trombone Trio and orchestra for the Jackson Symphony Orchestra. There is one problem however…the piece was copyrighted in 1979. The JSO and I will have to look into the copyright laws in order to successfully perform this piece as well as making money. Let me give a brief explaination about the copyright laws (it’s a HUGE subject).

Whenever someone completes a composition, book, movie, art, then you can copyright your work. Once that work is copyrighted, you CAN NOT arrange the work until the death of the composer plus 75 years. That’s a long time to wait, but don’t worry there is a way to arrange a piece much sooner. According to the MPA (Music Publishers Association), you must contact the publisher of the piece for permission to use that piece by filling out a sheet called Request for Permission to Arrange. Then you play the waiting game for their approval and then once they approve, then you can arrange.

Unfortunately, many musicians are not aware of these laws and serious consequences will rise if one arranges or performs without permission. For example, on April 14th, 2010, the Sparta Winds woodwind quintet performed a recital of new works by Phillip Sink, Evan Bushman, and myself. After they perform our pieces, they did an encore of either Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance or Pokerface (I don’t recall). Technically, they could have been in trouble for arranging a recent song into a woodwind quintet set up, but they did not. The consequences usually results in a fine between $1,000 to $100,000 depending on the severity of the violation.

If you would like to know more about how the copyrights laws function, click on this link: MPA Copyright Resource Center

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