This got longer than I meant it to. I think that, to some
extent, that's because I was clarifying my thoughts to myself in
addition to trying to answer your (friend's) question.
Spear Carrier <***@akashikonline.com> wrote:
[apparently in reference to Lee's]
Post by Lee Gold XP
I also object to having anything I've witten published (i.e. printed or
put on the Web or recorded) without my permission -- especially with the
words changed or with my name dropped off.
Lee, I get what you're saying but I've got this person here who would like clarification. He's says, "But that's like not posting "The Spirit of the Enterprise" because it's set to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" because the author of Battle Hymn doesn't like that the words have been changed." But it seems to me you're talking about an original song by you.
To begin with, IANAL. What follows are my opinions and
The MAD decision says that you can print lyrics to any tune,
so long as you don't actually print the tune itself. So the Battle
Hymn example may not be the best (not ignoring the fact that it's out
A mechanical or compulsory license allows you to perform
released songs as long as you pay that fixed license fee and as long
as you don't significantly change the words or tune. But you have to
get specific permission to use the tune with different words.
So, to try to answer your question (and likely follow-up
First, law (remembering that IANAL):
Whatever is published (in the USA) is copyright. Unless you're
given permission to copy it, you're not allowed to. (Depending on
when it was written, whether it was registered and/or renewed, etc.)
This is why I generally include a license on my filks - to let
people use my lyrics for noncommercial purposes. Otherwise, without
my specific permission, it would be technically illegal. I don't
mention changes and such because I don't want the license to be
longer than my songs (and because I don't like any of the standard CC
terms); otherwise I would.
Some people on this newsgroup do not include such licenses.
Some do so deliberately to reserve their rights.
Common use, ethics, etc.:
I don't think anyone is posting to RMF without the realization
that some people are going to save off some songs for personal use.
Filkers in circles tend to ignore performance rights. But those
who record filks, and probably those who perform filk concerts, must
pay attention to them.
I would not want to find that any of my filks had been printed
(or recorded) without my byline. I would also not like to see any
printed (with or without my name) with changes I hadn't approved, at
least without some notation that these are not my original lyrics,
and you can see the original at such-and-such a place.
I hope that someone is singing my songs at filks. No one
mentions the writer in circles unless they're asked, and I'm fine
with that. People tend to change words to suit their own style and
sensibilities, and I'm also fine with that in the ephemeral medium of
voice performance. (Note that, even so, Gary recently asked if it
was okay for him to change a word of my song when he sings it.)
Finally (and still IANAL):
If someone has written original music for a filk, and someone
else references that music with original lyrics (without printing the
music or performing it), MAD says, "That's okay". Most filkers have
no problems with that (though there are exceptions).
Some filkers actually make a bit of money by publishing their
own lyrics. You could not expect them to allow their lyrics to be
copied and passed around, even for free. If you were printing an
anthology, you wouldn't take someone's story without permission and
without paying royalties.
I expect that many early filk collections were made with the
permission of the lyricists (whether or not it says so anywhere). I
also expect that many were made *without* such permission.
There is a "blanket permission list" of people who do (or do
not) allow their songs to be posted freely to RMF. I think there
used to be a separate list of those who didn't mind their songs being
posted elsewhere, but I can't find it. The fact that this list
exists, shows that some people are touchy about their lyrics being
reposted, even noncommercially.
Arthur T. - ar23hur "at" pobox "dot" com