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    Rory Fackrell

    Hey all

    I’d like clarification, so actual fact, not hearsay, myth or opinion!

    I’ve had a heated discussion with a jock not long ago that gives out “thank you discs” – a CD of usually 20+ songs to his punters. He claims that he does nothing wrong, here’s his reasoning….:

    1. He bought and so owns the product. I disagree, the way i understand it is that he may own the physical recording medium – the vinyl for instance but not it’s contents, the song.

    2. Fair use/promo – He claims it’s fair use/promotional and as he gives them away, so doesn’t receive payment he breaks no law. I disagree. Fair use may allow a sample of the work to be “given away” for educational or evaluation but not a song in it’s entirety, and certainly not multiple songs over at least a decade!

    3. He claims because the artist has joined the big jam session in the sky, copyright doesn’t apply any longer. Ridiculous. I’m pretty sure there is a period of 50 years after the last surviving person with a claim to copyright died before copyright “dissolves”. I’m not even sure that that is even the case, the Jackson Vs McCartney case springs to mind or am i talking bollocks?

    4. He claims none of this matters because it’s “in the public domain” and has been in some cases for over 50 years and so copyright doesn’t apply. He may have a point – to a point. He also says a lot of the music he gives away is free of copyright because copyright was never filed on them. Again, he may have a point here, I do know that you can choose not to copyright your work and you can choose to specifically put it in the public domain. hence it wouldn’t be subject to copyright. I asked him to give me three examples of tracks he has given away that are free of copyright…. I’m still waiting.

    So i guess my question is – well I, don’t really know what my question is but apart from simply being unfair and I still think illegal, it winds me up tighter than a duck’s arsehole.

    DJ Nostalgia

    Hey LMP –

    Not sure you’ll get ‘actual fact’ here – I doubt many DJs are copyright lawyers! – but, nevertheless, I’ll be keeping up with any replies to this question…


    1) You don’t buy the intellectual property (IP). The ONLY person who can decide how to distribute/protect the IP is the copyright holder.

    2) As the copyright holder is the only one that can decide (see 1)), he/she is the only one that can decide to give their work away for free/demo purposes. There is no such thing as fair use. The use of the IP is limited to personal or small family circle use. Wanna play it in public spaces or as a DJ? Most countries demand extra payment for that.

    3) Copyright does not stop at the threshold of heaven (or hell). It simply goes to whoever gets the inheritance.

    4) There are evergreens. This only means you don’t need the permission of the original IP holder to perform their music (cover it). However, if an artist covers music like that, the new work CAN again be copyrighted. So you would be able to share the ORIGINAL version without problems, not the covers.

    Having had many discussions on the subject with a Dutch (music) IP lawyer, I am pretty confident about 1) through 3). The only uncertainty I have is about the free sharing of evergreens.

    As for public domain, this is only valid when -again- the copyright holder specifically puts it there. Say something like offering a free download on SoundCloud.

    As a whole I’d say this guys behavior is at the very least unethical (you are giving away something that belongs to someone else) and for the most part illegal. Not making any money off of it is not a relevant issue here. If I steal your phone and give it away for free, it’s still illegal to steal it in the first place.

    Todd Oddity

    Vintage, can’t speak to your part of the world, but in both Canada and the US ‘fair use’ is absolutely a thing. It doesn’t cover what this guy is doing, but it does cover other uses. But it’s a tricky set of laws to navigate.

    LMP. you didn’t state what country you were interested in, and the answers do vary a little between different nations. But in general no, there is no way that is legal in most countries. I believe copyright holds for 50 years past death based on international treaty – although I do know some countries actually let it run longer.

    DJ Wee Man

    Here’s my knowledge of copyright law.

    THat 50 year protection you speak of is correct, it is the bare minimum afforded to works by the Berne Convention and is intended to allow the descendants of the copyright holder to benefit from the work. However, at the end of that period, it becomes freely available in the public domain.

    Just because something is made available publicly does NOT give another person the right to distribute it. It still belongs to the copyright holder.

    I’m not sure where they’ve got this filing for copyright nonsense from. Copyright is a special form of IP that arises literally upon creation – it’s also governed to a bare minimum standard intenationally (Berne and TRIPS).

    Honestly copyright is fairly uniform internationally and there’s no such thing as not filing for copyright – it arises automatically as stated. It is the copyright holder’s right to decide whether other people can use it – if there has been implicit allowance then i am unsure of what the situation is here.

    For your first point you are correct, he has bought that vinyl and that allows him to have personal use. It does not allow him to copy and redistribute it. Just imagine it if the case was a book. You bought Harry Potter for example. You own that copy, but you have no right to repackage it and distribute it yourself do you?

    Hope this helps. (FYI I’ve studied international and UK copyright law at degree level)


    Thank Wee Man!

    I know in Holland, in order to protect your rights, it’s customary to file with the Tax Authorities (musical score and lyrics). Apparently, while you hold the rights (as you stated upon creation), there is always the bit of proving you actually created it. The filing formalizes the process.


    Having DJed in most places around the world I can say this is illegal in all of them, except maybe Cuba 😛
    I never DJed in North Korea though hehe to much risk to get shot if you play a wrong song hrhr

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