Connect With Us

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner





Entries in Copyright (24)


Tribute Bands - Are They Legal?

Look through your local gig listings and chances are you’ll find as many tribute bands and singers as there are original acts. Their popularity continues to grow and not just in smaller venues. Some are able to fill the largest sites like Wembley Arena and the O2. The Australian Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin Experience, Bootleg Beatles and Hollywood U2 are examples of successful tribute bands that have performed thousands of shows across the globe, year after year. These acts have earned their success by replicating the original band’s music to a very high standard, as well as providing an exciting visual performance alongside the sonic conventions. 

Although the level of musicianship amongst popular tribute bands is exceptional, where does the law stand in regards to bands that make a living by playing another band’s music, and trading off their original name and image? 

Technically, a band that is still trading as a live act could have a case for legal action against a tribute act if it could be shown that they were losing audiences and revenue to the tribute act. An original band also has the right to preserve its brand from being undermined or devalued by the presence of a tribute act. Another legal issue is where an audience member believes he was duped into believing that a tribute act was the genuine original act.

In 2010, Lawyers for Universal Music in Sweden sent out legal notices to more than 15 Abba tribute acts demanding they stop trading off the name ‘Abba’. Well established tribute acts such as Abba Queens, Abba Mania and Swede Dreamz Abba Tribute were all ordered to change their names immediately, according to an Independent article published in June 2010. A spokesperson for Universal Music told the press: “We’ve had complaints from all over the world where fans feel they’ve been misled and we feel it’s our duty to protect the Abba brand from misuse.” A number of bands license out their name and ask tribute acts to pay to use it, but the spokesperson said Abba do not plan to do this.

Another relevant case that made newspaper headlines was when Bon Jovi sued an all-female tribute act called ‘Blonde Jovi’ in 2009. A legal letter from the law firm Blakely Sokoloff Taylor & Zafman to Blonde Jovi stated, “It has recently come to our attention that your band is using the mark and name BLONDE JOVI in connection with live musical performances; more specifically, a Bon Jovi tribute band. Unfortunately, and despite the fact that our client appreciates the reverence that your band pays tribute to Bon Jovi, as a tribute band, our client nevertheless is charged with the duty of enforcing its trademark rights. In this regard, BJP cannot allow your band to use the mark and name BLONDE JOVI (or any other BJP trademarks), as such use creates a likelihood of confusion with our client, and capitalises on the goodwill and reputation of its well-known marks.”

Here we can see two examples where bands do not approve of imitators making a living off of their original endeavours. As a musician and a member of a band, I can understand why bands such as Bon Jovi and Abba are protective of their brand name and music. Over the course of a band’s career, countless hours, days and weeks are spent crafting original music that has earned the band their place in the limelight. The music they have created is their own and holds an intrinsic value to the band members. It does not seem fair for an imitator band to capitalise off the immeasurable hard work of the original band.

However, some big acts are more than happy for tribute acts to ply their trade as it is offers free promotion for the original band’s records. Especially where the original group may have disbanded or no longer tour. Australian Pink Floyd was hired by none other than original Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour to play at his 50th birthday party. Clearly, Pink Floyd has no issues with a band imitating them and selling 3 million tickets to concerts worldwide. 

Tribute acts have to pay PRS (Performing Rights Society) fees for sound clips used on their websites. As for live performances, it is the responsibility of the venue (not the act) to pay the PRS fees. Most major live venues will be well used to paying their PRS fees, but for private performances such as weddings and parties, the PRS won’t usually pursue fees where it’s too difficult to police.

As we have seen, original acts differ widely in their response to tribute bands. What is not in doubt is the popularity of tribute acts with the music listening audience. Tribute acts will claim that they are simply paying homage to the great originals that have inspired the millions of people worldwide. And they wouldn’t do it if there was no demand. There may be no malicious intent to make a living off of other peoples creativity, but the original band should always have the right to protect its trademark if they feel their hard-earned and cherished name is in danger of being tarnished.

About The Author:
Gideon Waxman is a London based drummer with over 13 years experience, and is the drummer of metal act Familiar Spirit. You can find more of his tips at Drum Helper – a free online resource dedicated to helping drummers achieve more from their playing.

Tribute Bands - Are They Legal?


The Enigma Of Securing Your Copyrights In China

Once upon a time pirates ran rampant in China, today the pirates have turned into paying customers. The protection of copyrights are good for business as the wealth in China grows companies are more concerned about security as it is the main incentive for investment. This is written in the history of other wealthy Asian countries such as Japan and Korea. The dubious probability for creators to secure royalties from China is also history. 

Click to read more ...


Music Copyright Law And The Consumer: Understanding The Basics

When enacted, it serves to prevent the illegal sharing, misuse or distribution of that content through unauthorized mediums. But, what does that mean exactly and what or who does it cover? Let’s take a deeper look.

Click to read more ...


Urgent Warning!: Time Is Running Out For Artists & Writers To Exercise Their Termination Rights Under U.S. Copyright Law

 1976 Copyright Act provides for the termination of copyright transfers – but authors need to act within a limited timeframe. Creators are entitled to reclaim their copyrights regardless of any contract stating otherwise after certain time periods. Therefore, even if an author, artist, musician, photographer or songwriter signed a contract which purports to transfer all rights in a work for perpetuity, the Copyright Act provides that the author of the work can terminate that grant and demand that the rights revert. Authors and creators are now entitled to terminate their contractual transfers and demand back control of their copyrights; authors can terminate their book publishing contracts, songwriters can demand return of their musical compositions from music publishers and recording artists and record producers can demand return of their sound recordings from the record companies.

Click to read more ...


BEWARE: Recent Decision In CBS Lawsuit Over Pre-1972 Sound Recording Could Wreak Havoc In The Copyright World

The recording artist and songwriter communities should take note of a recent decision in ABS Entertainment, Inc. v. CBS Corporation, et al., a case concerning pre-1972 copyrights - and raise an outcry! The Judge in this case held that remastered versions of old songs are entitled to a new copyright and owners of the originals are not allowed to stop the public performance of them.

Click to read more ...


Legal Issues With Songwriter Collaborations

Under the US copyright law, an author or creator owns a copyright in his or her work the moment it is “fixed in a tangible medium” (i.e., the moment the expression of an idea is written down or recorded in some manner). When it comes to the recorded music business there are two primary copyrights of interest: one in the musical composition or song; another in the sound recording of that song. A copyright extends for the life of an author plus 70 years, and in the case of collaborators on a copyright it extends for the life of the last surviving collaborator plus 70 years.

Click to read more ...


5 Things You Need To Know About The Business Of Music And Songwriting

Everyone harbors a dream to become a rock star at some point in his or her life. It is easy to get caught up in fantasies of flying all over the world and living a lavish lifestyle. These fantasies do not always include the songwriting and recording processes, which are arguably the most important aspects of a career in music. Here are some things you should know about these parts of the music industry.

Click to read more ...


SoundExchange Explained

SoundExchange is an independent nonprofit organization that is dedicated to collect and distribute royalties resulting from digital performance rights of sound recordings. When it was created in 2000, this organization was a division of the RIAA but in 2003 it became an independent organization, currently representing the interests of more than 110,000 artists and copyright owners. As reported by SoundExchange, they have already successfully paid nearly $3 billion since they first started doing business.

Click to read more ...


The Importance Of Creating A Paper Trail When Submitting Your Work

When pitching a project, whether a TV program or game show concept, a video game idea, a proposal for a book or magazine article or circulating a demo of your song, it is a good idea to file a copyright registration on it before making it public. It is also important to create a paper trail in order to keep track of where and to whom your work is submitted. In the event that you someday decide that someone stole your work or “infringed” your copyright you will need to prove two things in order to win a copyright infringement lawsuit: (1) access to your work and (2) substantial similarity between your work and the allegedly infringing work.

Click to read more ...


Legal Landmine: Playing Music at Your Business

Music offers the perfect audio backdrop for any store or business waiting room, either relaxing anxious customers or injecting energy into the lifeless. The right type of music can set the stage for the ideal purchasing attitude. However, music in the business world can be a bit of a legal landmine, with many seemingly innocent companies finding themselves guilty of stealing licensed tracks. Keep the following in mind as you navigate the complicated world of business and music

Click to read more ...


Red Bull DIDN'T steal my music. More important lessons for indie artists.

This is a follow up post to my post “Red Bull stole my music! 3 important lessons for independent artists.” which you can read here -
I’ll start this off by stating that it turns out Red Bull didn’t steal my music and did nothing illegal as I first thought. I’ll explain how it all happened in the following post and try and highlight more important lessons I’ve learned from all this. 
After I wrote the post I started to share it as I still hadn’t heard anything from Red Bull about the issue and it actually spread much faster and further than I thought it ever would. Blogs like Groove Loves Melody helped spread it and then Reverbnation picked it up, tweeting it a few times and that’s when it really started moving. 

Click to read more ...


Red Bull stole my music! 3 important lessons for indie artists. 

It was towards the end of a long, cold, 2 month tour around Europe promoting my new album, just about to head to Portugal to finish off and enjoy a bit of sun. I got an email from a fan in Switzerland saying something like “Hey, check out this video, it’s pretty cool but the best part is the music ;-)” 

I clicked the link and it lead me to a video on Eurosport/Yahoo Europe. The video was by Red Bull and was of a guy called Daniel Bodin doing an amazing 220ft jump on a snowmobile, from an Olympic ski ramp. The music behind it was my song “What Am I?” from my second album “The Rooftop Recordings.”

Click to read more ...


You Bought It, You Own It, You Should Be Able to Do What You Want With It.

The US Supreme Court is hearing an appeal that could change your ownership rights to music.

If you purchase music as physical media or license-free downloads, you are protected by the so-called First Sale Doctrine of the US Copyright Act, which gives people the right to lend, resell, or give away the works that they’ve bought, even if those works contain copyrighted elements.

But the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, currently being heard by the US Supreme Court, could undermine First Sale Doctrine, making ownership feel more like licensing. How could you be affected?

Click to read more ...


Are we a community of copyright cowards?

If you are like me, you probably despise the fact that there is an endless stream of companies that are willing to place ads (through Google) on sites that rip off artists.

Now you can do something about it.

Click to read more ...