#1
My band has recently decided to evict one our members. We've been working on trying to get along with him, but his attitude and behavior have become absolutely intolerable.

The problem that arises is in regard to "ownership" of the riffs that he contributed. What stake does he have in the songs that he contributed to? He never brought in full songs, just riffs and rough ideas that we, as a group, then hammered out into songs.

So, with him leaving the group, do we have to give up on those songs, or can we keep them?

Thanks, ya'll.
#2
unless he wrote the entire song him self, it belongs to the band. Since he is no longer in the band, he no longer owns any of it. Unless of course, for some reason, he decided to copyright all your songs in his name. Then they are his songs.
#3
I'd say since they were just ideas you guys are fine. Boot him and get down on it with a new member.
#4
The legal definition of a song as it applies to content and ownership is nothing more than lyrics and melody. If he wrote neither the lyrics nor the melody, he hasn't contributed to the song, which makes his concerns pretty moot. In other words, riffs, chords/chord progressions, drum beats, bass lines, etc. are all just 'dressing' and not considered part of the composition.

Look at the liner notes of any CD out there. It's almost always one or two people who are credited with the writing. Surely, each member contributes to his/her own part, but the only parts that count are lyrics and melody.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#5
My undderstanding of it is that something is copyrighted to whoever creates it, which could be interpreted in different ways, i guess... You'd be safe with playing those songs though- unless he brought in the full song with all the parts written down in music notation or something lol
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#6
Technically, as long as those riffs are not fixed in a tangible medium (a.k.a. recorded) they don't belong to anyone. You cannot claim ownership on an idea. So as long as you have not recorded the songs you technically are in the clear, legally. That doesn't mean that won't bitch and moan about you stealing his riffs. Besides if he's a good enough guitarist, he won't have to rely on those riffs, he can just create new ones.
#7
ur fine
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#8
Well, when Dave Mustaine was kicked out of Metallica, they actually had a demo out, reecorded and all, called "Life 'til leather", and it contained most of the riffs used in Kill Em All, an album that was recorded and sold after he was kicked out.


So I think once your out, your contribution means nothing.
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#9
Quote by axemanchris
The legal definition of a song as it applies to content and ownership is nothing more than lyrics and melody. If he wrote neither the lyrics nor the melody, he hasn't contributed to the song, which makes his concerns pretty moot. In other words, riffs, chords/chord progressions, drum beats, bass lines, etc. are all just 'dressing' and not considered part of the composition.

Look at the liner notes of any CD out there. It's almost always one or two people who are credited with the writing. Surely, each member contributes to his/her own part, but the only parts that count are lyrics and melody.

CT


Let me first say I have no knowledge of these sort of legality issues, but that is the stupidest thing I've heard all day. If what you say is true, I could take any Joe Satriani song, re-record it, and say I own it since I didn't steal any lyrics or vocal melody. Also, remember Ice Ice Baby? All Vanilla Ice did was steal the bassline of Under Pressure, and that was enough for a lawsuit. Even though I'm pretty sure the details of it are not disclosed.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that unless you guys as a band have recorded something and have it copyrighted, or have done the mail it to yourself trick which is pretty sketchy to hold up in court, or he has done the same the riffs are up for grabs. Unless there is proof you guys wrote it before someone else copyrights it technically anyone that went to your show and learned it by ear could snatch it up.
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#10
Quote by CoheednRHCP
Let me first say I have no knowledge of these sort of legality issues, but that is the stupidest thing I've heard all day. If what you say is true, I could take any Joe Satriani song, re-record it, and say I own it since I didn't steal any lyrics or vocal melody. Also, remember Ice Ice Baby? All Vanilla Ice did was steal the bassline of Under Pressure, and that was enough for a lawsuit. Even though I'm pretty sure the details of it are not disclosed.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that unless you guys as a band have recorded something and have it copyrighted, or have done the mail it to yourself trick which is pretty sketchy to hold up in court, or he has done the same the riffs are up for grabs. Unless there is proof you guys wrote it before someone else copyrights it technically anyone that went to your show and learned it by ear could snatch it up.


He was partially right. Its any widely recognizable theme from the song. The lyrics or melody line being the most commonly recognized parts of the song. In some cases, like with Under Pressure, the bass line also falls under that category. However, i can put the drum beat from the chorus of Killer Queen into a song and it would be fine becuse its not a recognizable.

So no, you can't copy a Satriani song. And as far as I know, the whole "widely recognizable" tag is completely arbitrary and when it comes down to a lawsuit, that is covered in the legal proceedings, with a judge finally saying either "that song is popular, you can't steal it!" or "Your song blows! No one could ever recognize that! Go home!". Or something to that effect.

None of this really matters in this case though because its unreleased, un-copyrighted material. Therefor, no one owns anything. There is no legal standing for anyone. If he's cool with it he'll let you use it, and then you can. If he's not cool with it, you can use it anyway but he may also try and use it.
Last edited by voodoochilli499 at Jul 17, 2008,
#11
This quickly gets complicated, your saying that you only own a song if you wrote the lyrics and vocal melody? What if you wrote an entire composition and had the singer put his own lyrics to it, does that now mean that he owns the song?
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#13
oh right, what if you wrote the lyrics but not the vocal melody?
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#16
Make sure you all sign an agreement that says whatever anyone brings to the band belongs to the band and not the individual. No one can really argue with that can they?
#17
I'd say keep the riffs unless you don't like them.
They are your riffs now. Not his.
I like Fall Out Boy.
That is all.
#19
Quote by Mexican Militia
Well, when Dave Mustaine was kicked out of Metallica, they actually had a demo out, reecorded and all, called "Life 'til leather", and it contained most of the riffs used in Kill Em All, an album that was recorded and sold after he was kicked out.


So I think once your out, your contribution means nothing.


On the topic of Dave Mustaine, can someone explain to me why he has writing credits in "Ride the Lightning" and "Call of Ktulu"? I don't know about "RTL" but I'm pretty sure he didn't write all of "Call of Ktulu" because that riff was used in Hangar 18. So why is he still given writing credit if he only came up with the riff?
Ben
#20
The Under Pressure thing was that the sample was used without permission. Using a sample falls under reproduction rights, which is different from 'songwriters' rights. Essentially songwriters rights cover the usage of any song or part thereof as used by someone else. If I wanted to cover Help! by the Beatles, I would need to pay a licencing fee. If I wanted to copy the recording itself, or part thereof, I would need to secure reproduction rights, which is a whole other bag of tricks. THAT was the issue with Under Pressure. (note to hip-hop/dance artists.... clear your samples!!)

That is also where the 'recognizable part' comes in. If I borrow a snare drum sound from, say, Rock and Roll by Zeppelin and trigger it as my snare sample in my own composition, I have not secured permission to use the sample, but it is probably not a recognizable portion of the work. Jay-Z's "99 Problems" uses a sample of the intro drum beat to Billy Squier's "The Big Beat." That was a recognizable enough portion of the work (not the song - ie. not the words or the melody, but a recognizable part of the 'recording') that Squier has actually received a Grammy as being a contributor of that grammy-winning song.

Can you copy Satriani's work? Well.... copy what? Solos? That would be a recognizable melody. Answer = no. Copy a guitar riff? You set yourself up for use of melodic content allegations, but it could be arguable. How integral that melodic content is would likely be determined by a judge. How willing would both sides be to spend money on lawyers to settle that? Copy a chord progression or rhythm? Go nuts. No prob. Copy a title? No prob. You can't copyright a title. This is why both AC/DC and Zeppelin can both have a song called You Shook Me All Night Long.

In the end, it comes down to lyrics and melody. That is all. I know what I am talking about and will take pretty well anyone to task on this.

Case in point.... Rolling Stones Has Anybody Seen My Baby had a lot of the same melodic content as the song Constant Craving by country artist K.D. Lang. The two songs were not similar in lyrical content or in musical presentation. Lang sent her lawyers after Mick and the gang, and ultimately, it was resolved that she would be credited as a co-writer of the Stones song, entitling her to her share of the royalties/rights, etc.

Chris
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
Last edited by axemanchris at Jul 17, 2008,
#21
Quote by voodoochilli499
then you've got yourself a poem


... and a songwriting credit if those lyrics are put with a melody...

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#22
Quote by turtlewax
This quickly gets complicated, your saying that you only own a song if you wrote the lyrics and vocal melody?


Okay.... let me revise that somewhat. Lyrics and significant melodic content, usually interpreted as the vocal melody.

Quote by turtlewax

What if you wrote an entire composition and had the singer put his own lyrics to it, does that now mean that he owns the song?


Well... what do you mean, an entire composition? Did you write the melody, or just a bunch of chords and a riff or two? If the singer put the lyrics AND the melody over a bunch of chords and a bass line you wrote or whatever, the singer gets the writing credit, not you. You, essentially in that case, wrote the accompaniment first, and he wrote the song over top.

If you wrote the melodic line and he simply put words to it, then you would be the co-writer.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#23
Quote by maggot9779
Make sure you all sign an agreement that says whatever anyone brings to the band belongs to the band and not the individual. No one can really argue with that can they?


This is often what is done when dealing with the capital assets of a band - gear, vehicle, merchandise, stage effects, etc. that was purchased with band money.

Where this gets complicated is when what happens when the band breaks up? Okay, if the guitar player walks, and there is an agreement that a member who quits relinquishes his/her rights to things owned by the band, then you're okay, but what about when the band is no longer? The resolution of capital assets is usually to sell them off, and divide the proceeds.

Songs are different, though. Who gets them when the band is done? You're opening up a potentially nasty can of worms on that one.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#24
Quote by muffinman123192
On the topic of Dave Mustaine, can someone explain to me why he has writing credits in "Ride the Lightning" and "Call of Ktulu"? I don't know about "RTL" but I'm pretty sure he didn't write all of "Call of Ktulu" because that riff was used in Hangar 18. So why is he still given writing credit if he only came up with the riff?


Okay... a couple of possibilities here:
1. He wrote more than you think he did, therefore making him deserving of a writing credit.
2. Another agreement was in place. Sometimes, conventional songwriting credit is superceded by other agreements. For instance, songwriting credits can be negotiated. I know a person who wrote roughly 75% of a multi-platinum selling single. What he did not write was the chorus. The record company insisted the band record the song and release it as a single, and allowed the person who wrote the chorus to have his way as a condition of using the song - that he would be given exclusive songwriting credit. Unfair and ****ed up? Yes. Legal? Yes, because the agreements and disbursements of power were legally agreed upon. Other times, you will see something like "all songs written by BandXYZ." What this does is allows bands to have a front face suggesting equality, cohesiveness, and uniformity. The band agrees that everyone is given songwriting credit, even when that might not *actually* be the case. With this agreement in place in advance, it is considered legal. In the case of co-writing, sometimes things are negotiated. A major hit writer might consent to help a struggling artist write a couple of songs, on the condition that the songs are released as being written by the hit writer. It may be in fact that the writing was 60/40 in favour of the struggling artist, but the cost of getting the help is relinquishing the songwriting credit to the helper, which determines how the helper is paid. (rather than, say, I'll give you 10 grand to help me write a song)

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#26
Why not just both keep the songs? Its not like you have to split it in half and each take seperate pieces.
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#27
Quote by CoheednRHCP
Let me first say I have no knowledge of these sort of legality issues, but that is the stupidest thing I've heard all day. If what you say is true, I could take any Joe Satriani song, re-record it, and say I own it since I didn't steal any lyrics or vocal melody.

If you go far enough down that road, you will eventualy come up with the question of ownership of the individual notes used in the composition of the tune in question. which is just ridiculous. There has to be a legal line drawn somewhere and in music copyright, its drawn where something is obviously recognisable as a melody or a lyric, the melody doesn't have to be a vocal melody, just the main theme of the tune.
Last edited by SlackerBabbath at Jul 18, 2008,
#28
I still think its unfair that the "accompniament" doesn't gain a writing credit, its a pretty integral part of the song. So only vocals and any melodic material in the music counts? and guitar riffs count as melodies right?
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#29
Look at it this way.
Let's take the example of Louie Louie by Richard Berry (written in 1955 and famously covered by The Kingsmen in 1963) and Wild Thing (written by Chip Taylor and originally recorded by The Wild Ones in 1965 then covered by The Troggs in 1966)
Both these songs have the same A, D, E, chord progression, but a melody that's just different enough to make them two seperate songs.

If riffs were such an important part of song writing, there would be all sorts of legal wranglings going on concerning these two songs, similarly with La Bamba and Twist and shout, essentialy the same riff but with different lyrics and a slightly different melody.

Practicaly any riff or chord progession used in modern music has at some time or another been used in classical music, or at least, as part of a classical tune.
Bach is a good example, his chord progressions are used by lots of modern bands. Procol Harum's 'Whiter Shade of Pale', The Farm's 'Altogether Now', Oasis's 'Don't Look Back In Anger' all share the same chord progession originaly written by Bach

The thing is, there are only so many chords and so many different configurations of those chords that are possible, so similarities are bound, by the law of averages, to occur occasionaly, this is why more emphasis is layed on lyrics and melody rather than chord structure or riffs.

What this effectively means to the thread starter Freunleven and his problem is, if you do a search of the riffs and chord progressions that your ex member contributed, you will find that they have probably been used elsewhere over and over again by other musicians, which effectively means he cannot claim ownership of these riffs, and therefore cannot take any legal action against you.
Last edited by SlackerBabbath at Jul 18, 2008,
#30
ok thanks, but you can still have melody lines on the guitar which aren't riffs right?
Also, did you know that on the original recording of louie louie you can hear the drummer shout out "f****" at 0.58 as he messes up? You can find it on youtube
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Last edited by turtlewax at Jul 18, 2008,
#31
Quote by turtlewax
ok thanks, but you can still have melody lines on the guitar which aren't riffs right?

Of course, or on any other noted instrument, a melody isn't just something that's associated with vocals.

Here's a good example.
Procol Harum's 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' was recently central to a lawsuit concerning songwriting credits.
Although the main body of the tune is an old Bach tune, keyboard player Matthew Fisher wrote a piece of music that was effectively a melody that was included in the song between verses.
Originaly, Mr Fisher didn't get any songwriting credits because everyone had assumed that it was just a Bach tune, but because of that tiny bit of melody between the verses, (which itself, although it was based on a Bach tune, was just different enough to be considered original) he won his case in 2006 (it was written in 1967, although he didn't win a backpayment) to be included on the songwriting credits.

Quote by turtlewax

Also, did you know that on the original recording of louie louie you can hear the drummer shout out "f****" at 0.58 as he messes up? You can find it on youtube

No I didn't, but it sounds about right.
Last edited by SlackerBabbath at Jul 18, 2008,
#32
Other good examples of same chords: When I Come Around by Green Day and Good by Better than Ezra.; Bullet with Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins and Piece of Mind by Boston; Oasis Wonderwall and Green Day Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

Or another example.... a tune that is completely instrumental....

Theme from Top Gun is essentially a very strictly structured guitar solo by Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens.

Wipeout, and Pipeline - both very popular instrumental pieces from the 'surf rock' era.

No lyrics, but very recognizable melody lines.

Now here is where it becomes cloudy. You know that drum beat from Wipeout? Of course, you do. *Everyone* does. Though it is not lyrics nor melody, it a part of the song that is of significant 'compositional importance' as it is not only hugely recognizable, but is an essential part of the song. Could you steal that drum beat? I wouldn't. My gamble is that that beat is 'compositionally important' and 'readily identifiable' enough that I might well lose my case if taken to court on it. Bear in mind, though, that there is a HUGE difference between that and most other drum beats/riffs that are out there in terms of 'compositionally important.'

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
Last edited by axemanchris at Jul 18, 2008,
#33
Quote by SlackerBabbath
What this effectively means to the thread starter Freunleven and his problem is, if you do a search of the riffs and chord progressions that your ex member contributed, you will find that they have probably been used elsewhere over and over again by other musicians, which effectively means he cannot claim ownership of these riffs, and therefore cannot take any legal action against you.

Oddly enough, I was hoping you would chime in on this, Slacker. Thanks for the answer.

Thanks to everyone, really. My mind is now officially at ease.
#34
Quote by axemanchris


Now here is where it becomes cloudy. You know that drum beat from Wipeout? Of course, you do. *Everyone* does. Though it is not lyrics nor melody, it a part of the song that is of significant 'compositional importance' as it is not only hugely recognizable, but is an essential part of the song. Could you steal that drum beat? I wouldn't. My gamble is that that beat is 'compositionally important' and 'readily identifiable' enough that I might well lose my case if taken to court on it. Bear in mind, though, that there is a HUGE difference between that and most other drum beats/riffs that are out there in terms of 'compositionally important.'

CT

Hmmm, interesting. I've never really thought about the copyright of drum beats before. I suppose it comes under the same heading as a drum solo would come. Let's say someone recorded, beat for beat, the drum solo from Led Zep's 'Moby Dick' that would obviously be breach of copyright, mainly because the drums become the lead instrument, which is what happens with the drums in 'Wipeout.'
Quote by Freunleven
Oddly enough, I was hoping you would chime in on this, Slacker. Thanks for the answer.

Anytime bud.
Last edited by SlackerBabbath at Jul 19, 2008,
#35
For the purpose of the OP however, none of this is necessarily relevant if you haven't published the music before and the credits for writing have yet to be legally established. People come and go in bands all the time. Not every bit of music they wrote is necessarily a component part they can lay claim to once they leave.

If you want to avoid the problem of "whose song is this" in the future, establish either:

1) Consistent and agreed upon parameters whereby a "song writing credit" is established
or
2) All songs are credited to "the band", not the individuals.

You're probably not at the point where you need to be getting a lawyer to handle this sort of thing, but you want to be thinking about it.
Last edited by Nijyo at Jul 20, 2008,
#36
Let him be a bitch and moan, you can use the songs if you want, and he can too if he wants.
if he decides to use them just change them slightly.