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OMG! Someone is selling mp3s of my Father's recordings online! HELP!

Discussion in 'Music' started by MielR, Oct 8, 2011.

  1. MielR

    MielR Advanced Member

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    Thanks very much, Richard (& Tony) I spoke with an entertainment lawyer by phone a couple of weeks ago, and he basically told me that I first need to get copies of whatever contracts/agreements they (UMG) have, and they won't want to give them to me. He said their copyrights may very well have run out, in which case I would be in a position to get the rights myself, but they won't make it easy for me to do that either. He also said that this was more of a family/estate law case than an entertainment one and I should find an estate lawyer who maybe could write out a letter or two for me, but that most of it I could do myself and it might not be worth the expense of hiring a lawyer.

    I'll keep plugging away, though, even though it might not amount to anything. I can't believe things are so screwed up that this can happen to so many artists and artists' heirs. I'll definitely do some research on the Bob Marley/"work for hire" issue, although I don't know how relevant that will be since my father was primarily a singer.

    Thanks for your advice and good luck with your situation, too!
     
  2. MielR

    MielR Advanced Member

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    My apologies- text editor is really acting up.
     
  3. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Producer

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    Even if UMG authorized the sale, really the amount of money we're talking about is so minimal. Maybe it might sell a couple of hundred copies. Certainly not enough for UMG to worry about and really not enough for you to worry about either. But getting it removed, all it will do is keep the music buried. No one is going to legitimately release stuff this obscure and with this little commercial appeal.
     
  4. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer

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    I also think that, in the UK, recordings fall out of copyright faster than they do in the U.S. I think that I have heard that after 50 years or something, they are no longer copyrighted.
     
  5. MielR

    MielR Advanced Member

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    It's an issue of principle for me, not money. More people will be exposed to his music through my uploads to YouTube than all the music sites combined. I'd rather people hear his music for free there, than for anyone to make one cent off of it.

    My goal now is to get the rights to everything that I can. UMG hasn't been able to locate any contracts for the music in question, and I'm hoping that will be helpful to me.
    Yes, and I think that's awful. It turns out that some of the music that was being 'bootlegged' in the UK due to public domain, was never released in the UK in the first place, which I've been told is illegal.
     
  6. Ron1973

    Ron1973 Beverly Hillbilles nut extraordinaire

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    Bear Family in Germany does it all the time, Neil.
     
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  7. Ron1973

    Ron1973 Beverly Hillbilles nut extraordinaire

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    MielR, it's apparently a pretty common problem. I've looked for years for a legit release of Hank Williams' The Lonesome Sound of Hank Williams on CD or mp3. You're hard pressed to find these versions since they were overdubbed after Hank's death and my LP isn't the best pressing.

    Anyhow, I found it available for mp3 download on Amazon for $6.99. A heckuva price! I downloaded it only to find it's was dubbed from a bad LP source and the album was played too slow. After a bit of research, I found the label (Hallmark) is a British label who apparently can license things cheaper (Bear Family in Germany takes advantage of the lower European licensing costs as well but they put out an A+ product) and they use questionable sources.

    Amazon refunded my purchase price without a problem but the mp3 album was never pulled and is still available. Since that time I've noticed the same thing happening with Chet Atkins, Hank Thompson and Eddy Arnold. There's simply no telling how much shady product there is out there being released by budget labels.
     
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  8. MielR

    MielR Advanced Member

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    I wonder how Amazon is still selling the Hank Williams' (and the other artists you mentioned) mp3s in the US? I purchased the two bootlegged LPs of my dad's (which included non-LP B-sides, no less!) from the US Amazon site but when I rose a stink and UMG got involved, they magically disappeared from the US site. The guy at UMG seemed a bit skeptical that they were ever there, but the songs were still in my Amazon cloud and I had the receipt! ("Cleopatra Records" was the culprit, btw.)I know the UK/EU public domain laws are permissive (to put it nicely), but you'd think that with an artist as famous as Hank Williams, that wouldn't be going on here in the US, unless there's something wonky about the copyright of that particular album.I guess the bottom line is, if there's even the smallest opportunity for someone to take advantage, they'll do it. Sad but true.
     
  9. Ron1973

    Ron1973 Beverly Hillbilles nut extraordinaire

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    The treatment of Hank's catalog is pretty bad by all accounts. I bought a tape at Walmart years back that had a couple of unreleased songs on some label I'd never heard of. When I contacted Mercury Nashville about it, I was told that release was "bootleg." Really? I can buy bootleg at Walmart? Lol!!!!

    There's still stuff passing along among collectors that the label has ignored for years. On my YouTube channel, I uploaded songs he did in the early 40's on radio before he ever signed a record deal.

    I really wish Bear Family would do some sort of set on Hank but apparently they've even had issues trying to license his music.
     
  10. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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    This article might help regarding the UK.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_law_of_the_United_Kingdom
     
  11. Arturo Hussey

    Arturo Hussey Auditioning

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    My granddad (I won't say his real name on here) sang vocals on a song for producer Joe Meek in 1964 when he was 15 under the name Percy Evanston the song was called 'Don't You Make My Baby Cry', he currently resides in an elderly care home in London, the song is available on itunes, spotify etc yet my granddad didn't receive a penny back then and doesn't receive a penny now. Joe Meek was songwriter and producer so his estate gets the majority of the money, the estate of Geoff Goddard who played piano and sang backing vocals on the track gets some money, yet 'Percy' himself gets nothing
     
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  12. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    That's pretty much how it's supposed to work tho, right? Your grandfather did work for hire, the songwriter gets the royalties. Either way there is really nothing we can do here other than say 'get a lawyer if you think you have a case'.

    Welcome to HTF.
     
  13. MielR

    MielR Advanced Member

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    You say your grandfather didn't get any money for his work at the time, so then he probably didn't sign a "work for hire" contract? If so, that might be in his favor if you cared to pursue it.

    I think the public domain laws in England have recently been revised so that they're not quite as egregious, but I've learned that this business is still sadly weighted against the "little guy" and unless you're a big star with mega bucks to hire expensive entertainment lawyers, you're basically screwed. Unlike the actors' unions, the musicians' unions don't seem to be as vigilant about making sure performers are fairly compensated. I think the whole system and structure is due for a much-needed overhaul.
     
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  14. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    You're so right about being weighted against the little guy. I just put something on my Netflix watchlist which deals with this issue - https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-lion-sleeps-tonight-netflix-documentary-20190515-story.html

    I also have a friends of friends who are in the business and while they have never made it outside the local area where I moved from, one of their songs was apparently largely copied way back by a major rock group and their attorney basically said the way the music business is, there is basically nothing one can do about it.
     
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