AUD210 - Blog 10 - Copyright

This AUD210 series belongs to an assessment from college.

As part of my research, I watched a Lynda course on copyright and rented the book 'Copyright, Royalties and Publishing', by Ben O'Hara and Mark Beardy, from the library in order to write a cohesive and coherent blog. 


The essential meaning of copyright is the right of ownership and protection of a creative work. One must be careful not to mistake copyright with patent and trademark, as they mean entirely different things: whereas a copyright refers to the expression of an idea, a patent refers to an invention and a trademark is accredited to a name, symbol or device with the means to indicate the source of goods and distinguish them from competitors. 

This trimester I was assigned to produce three different tasks: a remix of a song, a sound-alike version of a song and three jingles for ads or trailers, being two individual and one in groups. The latter allowed the team and I to split responsibilities, and the one I've chosen what to create the sound effects and my teammates would work on the music. 

Since all of these projects have been done as part of my studies, it'd be easy to simply state that everything falls under the 'fair dealing' Australian copyright law and end the blog here. However, despite the accuracy of this statement, there are some considerations that must be taken into account, as even though my creations are being done academically, I will use them as part of my portfolio later on. Coincidentally, information regarding all, though not restricted to all of the projects that I've done within this trimester can be found in a PDF document from the Australian Copyright Council called  'Mashups, Memes, Remixes & Copyright'.

According to the document, mashups, memes and remixes can be defined as combining pre-exiting material with other pre-existing material to create a new work. My work on the remix is by no means original, despite the material I've created to support the chorus, which was taken from the Australian band, Palo Alto. If I were to disregard the right of fair dealing and advertise the remix as my own product, I'd be creating a derivative work and therefore I'd be infringing copyright. In spite of having created a remix from a song recorded by one of SAE's students, I'd still need to contact the band and ask to license the copyright of the lyrics and melody, for example. If I am to use the remix as part of my portfolio despite the fair dealing right, the right thing to do would be to ask the band's permission before I publish it. By asking for a license instead of an assignment, I'd be allowed to only exploit the rights instead of having control and ownership over the copyright. When negotiating with the band, there are three different licenses I could attain: exclusive, non-exclusive or implied. If I were asking them as a professional, I'd bet on the non-exclusive; if I approached them as a student, It's likely that they could grant me an implied license, meaning that they wouldn't mind my work being used in particular circumstances -- or I could just publish it under the fair dealing law and avoid the hassle.  

An alternative for attaining the license for the remix would be to negotiate the terms with the band under the Share-Alike Creative Commons agreement. In Australia, the creator is allowed to share and adapt, which consists of copying and redistributing the material in any medium or format, and of remixing, transforming, and building upon the original material for any purposes, respectively. 

In terms of the sound-alike, the process is trickier. When I wrote the 8th blog on the sound-alike reflection, I mentioned that I attempted to submit the finalised video to Youtube and was immediately blocked by the Arctic Monkey's record label. The email notification stated that a member of the company -- with all due respect, I won't say his name -- had filed a claim over copyright infringement. I kept wondering if I had put a 'fair dealing' snippet in the beginning of the video then I wouldn't have to face the problem.

Of course, it would be madness if a copyright owner reported every sing individual out there. For situations like this, organisations like APRA plays a big role. According to the book 'Copyright, Royalties and Publishing', APRA represents its members who are songwriters. Songwriters are the first owners of copyright in the music industry, as they are the ones who right both the music and the lyrics. Consequently, APRA's clients are made of organisations that use music for public performance or communication and, in some other cases, people like me. I'm not a member of APRA as of this writing, however, if I ever decide to use copyrighted music in a project, I'll definitely refer to them first. Back to the sound-alike, despite owning the copyright of the new recording, I was, yet again, infringing copyright by creating derivative work. If the real-world, the best thing to do would be to ask APRA to license a copyright of the song so in order for my teammates and I to properly publish our recording online.

The creation of the jingles, at least in my case, is not a big deal. When I was assigned the task, I specifically chose game trailers due to the wonderfully flexible copyright policy provided by Ubisoft and Rovio, amongst other game studios. With every personal project I always like to stay away as much as possible from copyright infringement, and when it comes to audio this is absolutely no exception. 50% of my work on the jingles was based on sound design. I didn't want to just create the music for my individual trailers, but I wanted to create some of the sounds in order to maintain them as work in progress, and properly mix in 5.1 whenever I get the chance. The advantage of using game trailers is that selected studios allow their fans to use their owned material to create original content, as long as we don't sell them, of course. For future reference in regards to my jingles, feel free to read both Ubisoft's and Rovio's video rights policy here and here, respectively. The music is 100% original, and there's no copyright registration system in Australia as of yet, which means that as soon as the 'pen is out of the paper', the copyright is mine. 

As for the group work, we've chosen a film trailer. Eventually, our work will fall under the fair dealing section. It's crucial to notice, however, that the fair dealing exception only applies to work I've done while studying. The website that my teammates and I have to put up and publish our work is designated to school work only and cannot be used for commercial purposes.