Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Website and/or Legal Advice

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by JayFreddy, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 6, 2006
    Dallas TX USA
    Figured I'd throw myself on the mercy of the TDPRI experts first.

    As many of you know, I'm a local guitar teacher. I've been doing it for nearly 30 years, so I guess this is my career. Back in 2003, I started using a "Yahoo Group" to keep in touch with students, and bought a URL to use for email and to point at my Yahoo Group.

    Over the past ten years, I've posted quite a few transcriptions and lessons in the files section of the Yahoo group. Unfortunately, Yahoo recently changed their policy and it looks like I will no longer be able to post my transcriptions there.

    It's time to look at alternatives.

    First, can anyone recommend a good service or combination of services that I can use to host my transcriptions, keep in touch with students, and post lessons?

    Second, what are my legal responsibilities/liabilities if I post transcriptions on my own website? I never intended to infringe any copyrights, but apparently Yahoo thinks I might have done so, hence their new policy.

    I'm not selling these transcriptions, but since I do teach guitar for a living, someone could argue that I indirectly make money from them, and therefore that I should pay royalties to the songwriters/copyright holders.

    I'd like to make my transcriptions available to the public via the Internet, or at least to my students, but I don't want to infringe on any copyrights. I'm not doing note-for-note transcriptions, mostly "chords with lyrics" type arrangements... But I'm thinking it's the lyrics that are most likely to cause a problem.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    BTW, Here is an example of what most of my transcriptions look like:

    The Band Perry
    Capo 2 -> Play as G, sounds in A
    INTRO     G    D    Cadd9 
          ||: //// //// //// ////  :|| 2x
    Cadd9                             G
    Would you walk to the edge of the ocean
    Cadd9                    G
    Just to fill my jar with sand
    Cadd9                  G          D                     Cadd9
    Just in case I get the notion, to let it run through my hands
    ...let it run through my hands
     G            A              Cadd9   
    Well, I don't want the whole world
    G             D                  Cadd9
      The sun the moon and all their light
    G              A        Cadd9
    I just want to be the only girl
                      G   D  Cadd9                  G   D  Cadd9 
    You love all your li------fe, You love all your li------fe
    Would you catch a couple thousand fireflies, yeah
    Cadd9                             G      D/F#
    ...put them in a lamp to light my world 
    Cadd9                        G
    ...all dressed up in tux and bow tie 
        D                 Cadd9      
    and delivered to a lonely girl...
                           G a lonely, lonely girl
    G             A              Cadd9   
    Well, I don't want the whole world
    G           D                  Cadd9
    The sun the moon and all their light
    G              A        Cadd9
    I just want to be the only girl
                      G   D  Cadd9                  G   D  Cadd9 
    You love all your li------fe, You love all your li------fe
    Em                       B7 
    Lately I've been writing desperate love songs
    C                           G
    and mostly sing them to the wall
    Em                               B7      
    You could be the center piece of my obsession
    C                          D
    If you would noticed me at all 
    G             A              Cadd9   
    Well, I don't want the whole world
    G           D                  Cadd9
    The sun the moon and all their light
    G              A        Cadd9
    I just want to be the only girl...
                      G   F  Cadd9                  G   A  Cadd9 
    You love all your li------fe, You love all your li------fe
                      G     D     C         
    You love all your life, life, yeah...
         G            D             C
    (Ain't perfect, but it is what it is...)

  2. Cat MacKinnon

    Cat MacKinnon Friend of Leo's

    Nov 13, 2011
    hmm, that's a tricky one. technically you should be paying royalties if you're posting transcripts directly from books, but i don't know about the ones you've got. the flipside is that you can't copyright simple chord progressions, and i'd think that having small "snippets" of transcripts (especially ones you've made on your own) might fall under "fair use" laws. unless there are some copyright or music lawyers among us (which there very well may be), i'll refrain from offering my advice on that particular subject because i'm not in the legal field at all. i know some school districts have occasionally run into issues due to using sheet music to teach music classes, but i also know that there are some special circumstances for teachers. all i know for sure is that it can be complicated.

    as far as hosting the actual transcripts and teaching material, you could use something like Google Drive or Dropbox or some other cloud service. you could either set up password-protected folders and give the password to your students, or you can keep the files hidden to anyone you don't specifically share the link with. both Drive and Dropbox have free account options that should be plenty for hosting transcripts (which are basically just text files and thus REALLY small.) both also offer apps for Android and iOS too, which could be a benefit for you and and your students. Google Drive now has GDocs integrated directly into it, so you could even create new transcript documents directly in GDrive without having to upload anything or even having to hit "save"!

    just keep in mind that GDrive is tied directly to your Gmail address (if you have one), so if you don't want your students (and any potential malware on their computers) having access to your main email address, you can always create a new Google/Gmail account just for that.

  3. regularslinky

    regularslinky Tele-Holic

    Jul 22, 2004
    I'm a lawyer. I studied intellectual property in law school, but my practice went in a different direction. Forgive the "slipperiness" of this response, but I don't want to give you the impression that this is legal advice. You need to talk to a practicing intellectual property lawyer for legal advice.

    Generally, reproducing the lyrics of a song without permission is copyright infringement. I am not sure about reproducing the chord progression without notation of the melody.

    A doctrine called "fair use" permits the use of copyrighted material in some circumstances. I do not know if your postings would be considered "fair use" or if there would be a way to change the postings in order to fit the "fair use" exception. You really should talk to an intellectual property lawyer about that possibility.

    I do know this: the music industry has shown a willingness to act like a bully in copyright infringement cases, so proceed with great caution.

    This is a law review article about copyright and guitar tablature that might be interesting:

  4. purpletele

    purpletele Friend of Leo's

    I'd say share it on the Google Drive and only give your students access.

  5. Teletubbi

    Teletubbi Tele-Holic

    Oct 10, 2012
    Congratulations! You have come to a tele twanger forum for legal advice.
    How could you possibly go wrong?

    my 2c, If it bothered anyone that tabs and lyrics to their music were being widely posted and widely downloaded, websites such as Ultimate guitar com, etc, etc etc would have been shut down many years ago.

    Seriously, my ex was a tenured university professor for many years and as her husband I occasionally worked closely with her ( I was unskilled slave labor) including syllabus and lesson plans. She would copy sections liberally from several textbooks to create adjunct quasi textbooks to accompany the regular required text so students would not have to buy $1000 of books each semester. She had carefully researched the fair use rules as they pertain to education and an astonishing amount may be borrowed for student use.

    I cant see where your handouts are any different especially as they are credited with the owners id and no sale is made and no sale is lost to the original artist/author/publisher.

    Checkout DROPBOX.COM, free to cheap, your own website not needed, you drop the lessons and all related material into a DROPBOX designated folder on the desktop of your computer and students can then go to a web address and access that folder when they wish to. Only you and students are aware of the materials so its not like you are running a big Pirate Bay or the like. DROPBOX is private!
    You can set an access password if you wish but I see no point.

    And get off yahoo groups that is really 90s way to communicate not to mention is the most spam and malware infested place to be found.

    DROPBOX is used by big companies as well as families and friends sharing files.

    check it out for yourself, no technical skills needed.

  6. raito

    raito Friend of Leo's

    Nov 22, 2010
    Madison, WI
    Although not a lawyer, I've had to deal with this stuff.

    It's got nothing to do with whether you make money off it. It has everything to do with whether the copyright holder makes money off it. If you posting it for free takes away their business, they may come knocking on your door.

    The reducto in this is that if it were completely allowable for you to distribute others' copyrighted works as long as you didn't make any money off it, what's to stop you from running someone out of business by making all their output available for free? Supposedly, someone s making money of the printed editions that you (in a slightly different form) want to make available for free.

  7. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 6, 2006
    Dallas TX USA
    Thank you! As expected, I got some good advice here on TDPRI.

    I will be moving away from Yahoo and leave the copyright issues behind with them. I wish I could share my transcriptions publicly, but it's not worth the risk.

    There is a some content that I had posted on Yahoo that belongs to me exclusively, no copyright issues there, and I will explore Dropbox or a similar file sharing service for that.

    It's too bad. Yahoo groups worked well for what I was using it for. Oh well. Nothing lasts forever. That includes both good and bad things.

    My New Year's resolution was to update all my online lessons using better quality software... Yahoo changing their policy format is a just helping me to accomplish my goals. :idea:

    Thanks again for the thoughts and advice.

IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.