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Re: Solfege Resources -- 404 bach chorales in Lilypond format with Movab

From: Graham Percival
Subject: Re: Solfege Resources -- 404 bach chorales in Lilypond format with Movable Do solfege.
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2011 01:41:16 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-06-14)

On Sun, Jan 02, 2011 at 08:09:52PM -0500, Michael Ellis wrote:
>    Thanks Graham, it's good to get the straight story!  I must say there are
>    certainly some confusing aspects to copyright law.

First, I must clarify that I cannot give you a straight story.  To
begin with, I am not a certified lawyer, and certainly not a
certified lawyer in your legal jurisdiction.  Some jurisdictions
have laws against non-lawyers giving legal advice.  I am not
giving legal advice; I am merely giving my semi-informed opinion
on the basis of having read some internet articles and skimming
through two sets of copyright legislation (Canadian and UK).

Second, there is no such thing as "copyright law".  Each country
has its own copyright law.  There is a Berne convention on
copyright, but my understanding is that such a treaty only calls
upon its signatories to enact legislation with the specified
general terms.

Third, even if I *were* a qualified lawyer in a particular
jurisdiction (say, Canada), and even if you were in the same
country, the global nature of the internet makes it very unclear
as to which set of copyright law.  If you want a truly "straight
story", you would probably need to consult somebody who was
familiar with copyright law, and the legal history of copyright
cases, of every country in the world.

>  So If I'm
>    understanding you correctly, if I were to transcribe a fugue from an out
>    of copyright source, I have a copyright if I make a mistake and none if I
>    copy it perfectly!

My guess is that if you transcribe a fugue from an out of
copyright source, you have copyright over that rendition.  That is
the only thing that I can think of which would allow transcribers
to put such music under different copyright licenses -- for
example, Mutopia allows various Creative Commons licenses.  If the
transcriber did not have copyright over their work, then it would
not be legally possible for them to place it under any license.
If this guess is correct, then the question of "mistakes" is not

>  What if I transcribe from a copyrighted source and
>    make a mistake (or a lot of mistakes)?

Then you have infringed copyright, regardless of the number of
mistakes.  (unless your actions fall under a narrow set of
exceptions as defined in whatever country's copyright law is

>  Or copy from a copyrighted source
>    only those aspects that exist verbatim in a non-copyrighted version, e.g.
>    notes and rhythms as Bach wrote them but no dynamics or layout added by
>    the editor?  

My understanding is that the general consensus of non-lawyers who
are involved in this stuff thinks that this is ok.  I suggest you
look at copyright-oriented pages from mutopia, project gutenburg,
and IMSLP.

>    Anyway, I do appreciate the insights.  For the time being I'm interpreting
>    her publicly granted rights according to the notice on her web site, i.e
>    free use for purposes other than financial profit.  

I would be cautious about assuming things, and remember that this
type of license is *not* compatible with the GPL -- you certainly
would not be able to use them in solfege.  This may or may not be
a problem for you.

- Graham

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