Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Copyright Problem

Copyright is one of today's biggest problems for any producer, director or performing artist. A long time ago I decided that I would always use well out of copyright material or pay the copyright if the material was still in copyright. I still have all the letters and contracts and this has stood me well. I always try to obtain all permissions if possible and if I overlook by accident I take anything down if anyone objects. I try never to do this but anyone can complain that is what Errors & Omissions insurance is for.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to receive the above copyright infringement notice from YouTube on my latest offering my own rendition of Wagner's Lohengrin which I am hoping to enter for the Guggenheim YouPlay project. Wagner is in the Public Domain but I suppose the orchestration which I wrote myself on Garageband might have raised an eyebrow.

I hadn't even put it up publicly as I wanted to test the colour mix which as it happens is awful so I shall have to redo the whole thing!

YouTube is incredibly hard to actually contact. There is no friendly voice at the end of a phone.
Nowhere on the electric form you have to fill in if you do not want to have your channel removed or even worse advertisements put on your videos do they give you a chance to explain.

Copyright laws need reforming to fit into today's conditions. In some ways the laws are so tough as to stifle creativity. Shakespeare who borrowed from his peers would not have been allowed to write Romeo & Juliet today.

Google which is trying to save the world's books from turning to dust has met with a hail of abuse from the publishers who in fact just control one tenth of the known works. Google wants authors to opt  out and is scanning first and arguing after as the books won't wait. Many authors would be lost to the dust of time.

Today a performing artist needs an online presence if they are to be remembered. Many of yesterday's famous names will be forgotten if they have not made it to YouTube. It is such a pity. If no one today makes the effort to put up some of their work they will be forgotten.

I was fortunately able to prove to YouTube beyond all shadow of doubt that my Lohengrin video is all me other than Wagner's magnificent composition. I am afraid even the orchestration was mine  but it did give me a shock!

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