Playing with karaoke/instrumental tracks for fun, practice or quick repertoire builders! :)

Posted: 7/24/2015 11:22:09 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Copyright can apply to many different aspects of a work. If you do an original arrangement of a composition that is in the Public Domain, you can copyright your arrangement (but NOT the work on which your arrangement was based). Then there is performance copyright: Beethoven’s 5th is in the PD but the Berlin Philharmonic’s performance of it is copyrighted.


Whatever legal considerations may be involved, composers and publishers generally ignore the unauthorized use of their copyrighted material as long as no money is being MADE from it by the person infringing, or LOST by the copyright holder due to the infringement.



Questions of copyright ownership aside, thereminists should avoid playing along with published performances in which the melody is already being played by some other instrument. With Perlman already playing the melody on his Strad, you will not hear yourself properly. I’ve heard many people attempt to practice by playing along with Clara Rockmore recordings. This may be lots of fun, but it is not an efficient way to learn.

Posted: 7/24/2015 12:45:08 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014

Well said!!

And why I make my own arrangements for practicing. I plan to start posting some of the arrangements I've made soon. Too many projects - too little time!

I usually post all my compositions, arrangements and editions of older works under a CC license. If I write something I think is truly commercial, I will never post that on the internet. Normally for compositions I use the CC non-commercial, no derivatives license. I figure for a lot of my stuff, better to have people enjoy it (hopefully) than just put it in a drawer until I die. But I still retains my copyright for any commercial purpose, even if it's an arrangement of a piece by Bach that has been arranged 100 times before. This is my arrangement and that specific arrangement still belongs to me. Same goes for a performance I make of that arrangement. 

Here's a good explanation of the Creative Commons copyright types:

Now I also do a lot of work taking original manuscripts, many of which have no modern editions made from them, especially old Baroque composers. There is a pitfall to be careful of here too. There is a little known copyright issue relating to "First Editions" (well all publishers know it). Let's say I find a piece in manuscript by Quantz and I want to make an edition or an arrangement of it. Well, if someone already took that original manuscript and made a first published edition say in 1975, I can not make my own edition to distribute in any way because that first edition right gave that person the exclusive copyright on that piece of music, even though the composer was dead for 200 years! But if you can prove the composer widely distributed that manuscript then that can count as being published and this rule does not apply. Copyright law - you gotta love it (at least lawyers that is).

Now this likely will not apply for any famous piece of music written by a long dead composer (died before the 20th century). But if you find something you've never heard of before by a composer who is long dead and you like it, you need to check if there is a first edition on it, because just because a composer died 300 years ago does not mean his work is ALL in the public domain. And the place to do this is worldcat: Also if you go to IMSLP and look up things they will tell you if it's Public Domain or not in specific countries - there are a ton of public domain score there - a true gold mine.

So once again always be careful with anything written after 1924 in the US, anything written within 75 years of a composers death in Europe - or life + 50 years of death or 75 years of creation in Canada. Canada has the most lenient copyright law of the three (why IMSLP is hosted in Canada).

But there are copyright laws put in place since then that changes a lot of specific things. It's all mirky. To be safe, it best never to repost YouTube videos unless you are sure about them.


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