Biblitz delivers advise

ASK Biblitz about Copyright.

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How can I safely give a demo without losing copyright?

Hey Biblitz,

I have an album I'm working on and a band plus their successful agent offered me a chance to tour with them after hearing me play. The problem is they asked for the sheet music and vocals/demo of the songs I want to do. I haven't filed for copyright yet though and it will take roughly 6 months for it to get back which is too long. Am I at risk of losing my copyright here if I give them a copy?

Biblitz replies:

Filing for copyright wouldn't solve the problem. What you need is a music/recording contract in which you sell the rights to publication of your work for a sum of money. If you give away your stuff as these fraudsters ask, you are effectively placing it in the public domain, where anyone may claim it. Agent/band can probably afford expensive IP attys to defend ownership after they dump you. ... Will you?


Here's how easy it would be for band and agent to steal your work:

Generally, if you are the creator of the work, you own the copyright. However, if you create a work in the course of employment, the copyright belongs to your employer unless there is an agreement to the contrary. Similarly, if a person commissions a photograph, portrait, engraving, or print, the person ordering the work for valuable consideration is the first owner of copyright unless there is an agreement to the contrary. The consideration must actually be paid for the copyright to belong to the person commissioning the photograph, portrait, engraving, or print. Also, you may legally transfer your rights to someone else, in which case, that person owns the copyright. (From the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, accessed online Dec. 13/09)

How do I go copyright my own songs?

How can i copyright my songs that i wrote at HOME? ive heard that i could mail them to myself but how would that prove anything? what all do i mail to myself? and how does that copyright it? please answer all questions!! thank you!!

Biblitz replies:

You don't have to DO anything. Copyright exists naturally in each created work. Period. The trouble comes when you sing your songs or post a video and someone else records them, garners a recording contract on the basis of the songs and records them to the adulation of millions. At this point, it becomes a battle to see who can afford the most legal argument. Your mission is to keep the stuff OUT of the public domain until you secure a recording contract.


A few words about copyright registration:

Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?

Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. ...

I've heard about a "poor man's copyright." What is it?

The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a "poor man s copyright." There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.

Is my copyright good in other countries?

The United States has copyright relations with most countries throughout the world, and as a result of these agreements, we honor each other's citizens' copyrights. However, the United States does not have such copyright relationships with every country. ... (From the U.S. Copyright Office, accessed online Dec. 13/09)



Rupert Garcia

Prints and Posters Grabados y Afiches 1967-1990


See also Canadian artist and legend Emily Car, who studied and appropriated aboriginal art of the Northwest Coast with spectacular results.

Rupert Garcia first became known for his political posters during the late sixties and early seventies when he was active in student and Mexican American/Latino cultural movements. Working primarily with silkscreen technique, he developed a bold style, appropriating many of the pictorial devices and premises of Pop Art, but subverting them from a Mexican American and Third World perspective to serve his own aesthetic and ideological ends. (From the Directors'Forward, p. 7)

A man of sound artistic principles, Biblitz feels, principles that provide the basis for most of the world's greatest art!

Fragonard's Allegories of Love

By Andrei Molotiu

More samples of French master Fragonard a la Biblitz.

Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732-1806) began as a student of Francois Boucher, and his very early pictures evince a complete appropriation of the older painter's style, particularly his decorative pastorals with scenes of gallantry. ... (-- p. 5)

Can i use this picture without getting sued for copyright infringement?

it says free photo but at the end of the page it says "copyright 2004-2009"

Biblitz replies:
Credit the site and include the phrase, 'accessed online (date).' If it falls w/in one of the fair use exceptions of material under copyright, you should be OK.


The first thing when you get a corker of an idea to do is to ask whether this new thing of yours is animal (an original work such as a song or novel for which certain rights might be purchased as per copyright), vegetable (something goodish but with a certain magical something or other - Champagne, for instance - consumers would buy if only they could locate the bally stuff, which they might well do if it has a distinguishing trademark like the Nike flourish) or mineral (a fabulous new collection of sprockets and screws that performs some useful function according to a certain set of specifications that might become the subject of a very profitable patent).

Freedom of Expression

Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity


By Kembrew Mcleod

More about copyright limits and what constitutes fair use.

More about patents and the specifications required for such profitable protection.

In 1940 (U.S. folk singer Woody) Guthrie was bombarded by Irving Berlin's jingoistic "God Bless America," which goes, in part, "From the mountains to the prairies / to the oceans white with foam / God bless America, my home sweet home." The irritated folk singer wrote a response that originally went, "From California to the New York Island / From the Redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters / God blessed America for me." (Guthrie later changed the last line to "This land was made for you and me.") Continuing with his antiprivatization theme, in another version of this famous song Guthrie wrote:

As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no trespassin'
But on the other side... it didn't say nothing'!
Now that side was made for you and me!

He set the beautiful lyrics to a beautiful melody he learned from the Carter Family, giving birth to one of the most enduring (and endearing) folk songs of all time. Guthrie's approach is a great example of how appropriation - stealing, borrowing, whatever you want to call it - is a creative act that can have a powerful impact. Before Guthrie, the Industrial Workers of the World, the Wobblies, borrowed from popular melodies for their radical tunes, which were published and popularized in the Little Red Songbook. These songs also parodied religious hymns, such as "In the Sweet By-and-By," which was changed to, "You will eat by and by."

For Guthrie and many other folk musicians, music was politics. Guthrie was affiliated closely with the labor movement, which inspired many of his greatest songs; these songs, in turn, motivated members of the movement during trying times. That's why Guthrie famously scrawled on his guitar, "This Machine Kills Fascists." Appropriation is an important method that creative people have used to comment on the world for years, from the radical Dada art of the early 20th century to the beats and rhymes of hip-hop artists today. Guthrie drew from the culture that surrounded him and transformed, reworked, and remixed it in order to write moving songs that inspired the working class to fight for a dignified life. ...

I was surprised when (Michael Smith, general manager, Woody Guthrie Publishing) Smith told me that the song-publishing company that owns Guthrie's music denies recording artists permission to adapt his lyrics. And I was shocked when Smith defended the actions of the company, called The Richmnond Organization (TRO), even after I pointed out that Guthrie often altered other songwriters' lyrics. ...

...In a written statement attached to a published copy of his lyrics for This Land Is Your Land, Guthrie made clear his belief that it should be understood as communal property. "This song is Copyrighted in US," he wrote, "under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin' it without our permission will be mighty good friends of ours, 'cause we don't give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that's all we wanted to do." ...

In a dramatic turn of events, Ludlow Music, the subsidiary of TRO that controls Guthrie's most famous copyrights, backed off from its legal threats against's parody (This Land!, by cartoonists lampooning the 2004 U.S. election). ... More interesting was the discovery by EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) senior intellectual property attorney Fred von Lohmann that, according to his research, "This Land Is Your Land" has been in the public domain since 1973! He writes:

Fact #1: Guthrie wrote the song in 1940. At that time, the term of copyright was 28 years, renewable once for an additional twenty-eight years. Under the relevant law, the copyright term for a song begins when the song is published as sheet music. (Just performing it is not enough to trigger the clock.) Fact #2: A search of Copyright Office records shows that the copyright wasn't registered until 1956, and Ludlow filed for a renewal in 1984. Fact #3: Thanks to tips provided by musicologists who heard about this story, we discovered that Guthrie published and sold the sheet music for "This Land Is Your Land" in a pamphlet in 1945. An original copy of this mimeograph was located for us by generous volunteers who visited the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. This means that the copyright in the song expired in 1973, twenty-eight years after Guthrie published the sheet music. Ludlow's attempted renewal in 1984 was eleven years tardy, which means the classic Guthrie song is in the public domain. (I'll note that Ludlow disputes this, although I've not heard any credible explanation from them.) So Guthrie's original joins "The Star Spangled Banner," "Amazing Grace," and Beethoven's Symphonies in the public domain. Come to think of it, now that "This Land Is Your Land" is in the public domain, can we make it our national anthem? That would be the most fitting ending of all. (From This Gene Is Your Gene, pgs. 23-28)