Songs and Lyrics....

Dave & Laura McKinstry dalm at enterprise.america.com
Sun Oct 1 14:50:00 PDT 1995


I am very appreciative of the fact that I can get online and find lyrics
that I have been wanting, and I'm glad that people are helping to dispense
information, but there are a few issues that we should be aware of, and ways
to avoid treading on the rights of the writers.

If one of my poems is placed on the Internet, whether by me or by someone
else, I will never be able to have it published in a magazine.  Those of you
who are unaware of this, please take note.  This is called "First rights",
the right to be the first publisher of a work, and the internet has been
deemed a publisher, by the court.  First rights are the only rights a
magazine will publish.  Once a poem has been published in one place, no one
else wants it, regardless of the quality.  Only people such as Robert Frost
or Maya Angelou have the talent and fortune to be republished in books, and
while I aspire to that level of expertise, I don't delude myself. 

There are many other things one should know before placing an item in the
public domain; please be wary, and ask yourself, "is the item I'm about to
place in the public domain free of copyright?" Copyrights last for fifty
years.  Once an item is beyond that mark, it becomes public domain.  If you
aren't sure an item is public domain, do not post it without permission from
the person or company  holding the copyright.  I'm not sure what the laws
are regarding lyrics to songs; I believe when a song is copyrighted, it is
the SONG which is copyrighted, not the lyrics, but the source (the writer,
whether by group or personally) should always be given.

On this topice, or any other below, if someone has additional or contrary
information to what I possess, please inform us.

In the interest of dispensing information, I don't believe there are any
rights that would come to harm if you let people know you HAVE lyrics or
poems, and that you will send them by E-mail if they are requested.  Please
make sure you know the originator of the work, though, and make sure that
this information remains with the work.  

I believe it is the responsibility of the poster to make sure they are
neither breaking laws nor treading on other people's rights, but I think it
is often done because of a misunderstanding of how those rights can be
injured.  For this reason I believe we writers have a responsibility to help
others understand our wishes regarding our works.  Some
poets/lyricists/writers are flattered by having their works displayed
publicly, and are more than happy to see it done, and if you feel this way
about your work, say so when performing it, and write that on any copies you
distribute; also write whether or not you should be attributed as the
originator, and it would be best to state that you want this message to be
repeated wherever your work is reproduced.  You will find items on the
internet that do exactly this.  The common wording is, "You may distribute
the following works freely provided this message is kept with it.  This
piece was written (05/07/95) by (John Doe)." You can change this message to
reflect your wishes, such as, "Please do not post this publicly, but feel
free to e-mail it," or whatever.  

Always tell your friends about copyright issues, lest they find something
you've written just DELIGHTFUL and have it published in their church
bulletin.  Unless, of course, this isn't something that would bother you.  I
think it is more often a lack of awareness than lack of caring that leads to
damaged rights, or feelings trod upon due to lack of attribution.  When you
learn a song from another bard, find out WHO wrote it, and make sure you
tell others when you play it, especially at bardic circles, so we can
continue to honor those that put their efforts into bringing the joy  of
music, poetry and stories into our lives.  This is, after all, the CURRENT
middle ages, and information flies faster than it used to, and more
perfectly.  Retelling a story as you recall it is one thing, but repeating
word for word what another created is another entirely, if done on permanent
media (paper or bytes as opposed to sound waves.)

Lark of Cire Freunlaven



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