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The Strathspeyer's CD - Mix and Match - MCPS licensing

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  • ...

    Iain Boyd March 29, 2006, 10:55 p.m. (Message 44898)

    Dear Sue,
       
      You wrote - 
    
      "(the MCPS licencing can take quite a while to come through sometimes)".
       
      What is 'MCPS licensing' and what does it involve?
       
       
      Regards,
       
      Iain Boyd
    
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  • ...

    Phill Jones March 29, 2006, 11:03 p.m. (Message 44899, in reply to message 44898)

    Iain,
    
    MCPS stands for Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (see
    www.mcps.co.uk).  It is the mechanism for paying royalties to the
    composers of any tunes still in copyright that are recorded on the CD
    and is charged based on the number of CDs produced, how long the tune
    lasts on the recording etc... and whether the composer is a member of
    the MCPS.
    
    MCPS is also closely link to the PRS (Performing Right Society -
    www.prs.co.uk) who you have to pay a license to if you want to play any
    music, live or recorded, in public or broadcast any music.
    
    Having gone through the MCPS process myself last year, I can tell you
    that the process of applying only takes a couple of weeks from when you
    send the form off but good luck filling the forms in in the first place
    :-)
    
    Rgds,
    Phill Jones
  • ...

    Iain Boyd March 30, 2006, 4:56 a.m. (Message 44903, in reply to message 44899)

    Thank you Phill.
       
      However, is any money actually given to copywrite holders who are
      not known to these two organisations - in other words, what effort
      do they go to to pay copyright holders of country dance music and
      music composed outside the UK?
       
      Regards,
       
      Iain Boyd
       
       
      
    
    Phill Jones <xxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxx.xx.xx> wrote:
      Iain,
    
    MCPS stands for Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (see
    www.mcps.co.uk). It is the mechanism for paying royalties to the
    composers of any tunes still in copyright that are recorded on the CD
    and is charged based on the number of CDs produced, how long the tune
    lasts on the recording etc... and whether the composer is a member of
    the MCPS.
    
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  • ...

    Anselm Lingnau March 30, 2006, 9:26 a.m. (Message 44910, in reply to message 44903)

    Iain Boyd wrote:
    
    >   However, is any money actually given to copywrite holders who are not
    > known to these two organisations - in other words, what effort do they go
    > to to pay copyright holders of country dance music and music composed
    > outside the UK?
    
    If the MCPS/PRS is anything like the German equivalent, they don't worry their 
    little heads too much.
    
    There are two main sources of income to such an organisation. The one is, 
    e.g., radio, where the broadcasters generally keep track (by computer, these 
    days) of what music was played and royalties can be assigned to the 
    respective composers/lyricists/musicians/publishers on a fairly exact basis. 
    The other involves generic fees that one pays when one holds a public dance, 
    disco or plays background music in a restaurant or shopping mall. The 
    copyright institutions are not about to waste endless man-hours sharing out 
    pennies according to which top-10 hits were piped to the punters in Bob's Bar 
    & Grill, East Podunk, South Dakota (especially because Bob has better things 
    to do with his time than to write them a list, such as frying burgers), so 
    there is generally a flat fee in cases like this. The fee ends up in a big 
    pot, together with additional contributions from, say, the sale of blank 
    cassette tapes and tape recorders, which at least hereabouts carry a levy to 
    cover the uncontrollable sort of copying where people tape music off the air. 
    
    At the end of the year the money in the pot is divided among the »members« of 
    the copyright institution, such as composers and musicians, according to a 
    complicated scheme that the organisation does not deign to publish in detail, 
    but which generally operates on the Biblical principle of »he who has, shall 
    be given«. The assumption is that if you have contributed a lot to the 
    repertoire of the organisation, and if your stuff is played a lot where the 
    organisation can actually find out about it (on the radio), you deserve a big 
    share of the pot; if your input is rather more insignificant and you are not 
    played on the radio, you get comparatively little. Obviously this means that 
    most of the pot goes to the bigwigs of the trade, and that this arrangement 
    is geared towards keeping the likes of Madonna and Robbie Williams from 
    starvation.
    
    If you are a composer of country dance music, your creations are unlikely to 
    end up on Top of the Pops, and since reels, jigs, and strathspeys are, as a 
    rule, fairly short pieces of music you will have to come up with rather a lot 
    with them to be able to compete with the composers of symphonies of more 
    significant length (there is a bias in the distribution scheme that pushes a 
    larger proportion of money towards the composers of classical music, since 
    living specimens apparently deserve a little extra consideration). This means 
    that, at least here in Germany, you would probably have to be Muriel 
    Johnstone to actually recoup the annual GEMA membership fee. For the likes of 
    myself, with two dozen little tunes to my credit and no chance of them ever 
    being played on radio or recorded by a top-selling artist such as, say, Rod 
    Stewart, GEMA membership is generally a non-starter, so we don't bother, 
    hence we don't see any of the money when the pot is distributed at the end of 
    the year.
    
    The situation is a bit different with recording artists, who even in the SCD 
    scene are usually members of the MCPS. This is on the one hand due to the 
    fact that the CD manufacturing outfits etc. will gently but firmly nudge you 
    in that direction (they also get a share of the pot at the end of the year), 
    and on the other hand because you will presumably be entitled to some money 
    directly if your stuff gets played on Take the Floor and the BBC does know 
    that it did.
    
    The other thing is that the MCPS/PRS (or local equivalent) can only license 
    the use of the music that they are actually officially in charge of. They 
    like to pretend that they do »own« every single interesting tune in the 
    world, but this is not really the case. You can get out of paying GEMA fees  
    for a function where you only play strictly your own arrangements of 
    traditional music (where »traditional« means the composer has been pushing up 
    the daisies for more than 70 years) and/or your own compositions (if you're 
    not yourself a member), but as the presumption is that they own everything of 
    consequence you have to prove to them that you played not even a single one 
    they control (and don't let them catch you play »Happy Birthday«, which is a 
    mainstay of the MCPS/PRS repertoire). So you send in a list of tunes, and 
    they will usually try to claim a bunch of them even so, on the off-chance. 
    I've had interesting run-ins with GEMA where they would make believe they 
    owned the copyright on various tunes written by Niel Gow, William Marshall or 
    J. Scott Skinner, all of whom easily fulfil the 70-years-dead requirement; 
    normally you query these and you never hear back from them.
    
    And speaking of background music in shopping malls, etc., there are people who 
    specialise in composing »elevator music« who make a point of *not* being MCPS 
    members so it is cheaper for the shopping mall operators to play their stuff 
    because they do not have to pay for a MCPS license -- they pay the composers 
    directly and save the overhead.
    
    Anselm
    -- 
    Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    The viability of standards is inversely proportional to the number of people
    on the committee.                                              -- James Warner
  • ...

    Beth Kingsley March 30, 2006, 5:33 p.m. (Message 44923, in reply to message 44910)

    This is all very interesting.
    
    But I had heard that Happy Birthday, the tune, is no longer protected by
    copyright, though the words still are.  Is that incorrect?  Perhaps true in
    the US?
    
    Beth Kingsley
    Washington, DC
  • ...

    suepetyt March 30, 2006, 9:49 a.m. (Message 44913, in reply to message 44903)

    Iain,
    
    It is up to individual composers/artists to register with MCPS and provide
    lists of all their work.  
    
    Other countries have there own organisations (eg Compass in Singapore) and
    registering with one should ensure that you receive royalties worldwide as
    they liaise with each other.
    
    There are all sorts of pitfalls from the producers point of view, firstly
    you have to make sure that the tunes you want to record are allowed to be
    recorded (strangely some composers will not give permission, if you then do
    record and sell the music, you are in breach of copyright).
    
    You then have to list the tune name, composer, publisher, arranger and time
    each tune (so an 8 x 32 piece would be likely to have 4 tunes).  It normally
    takes 2-3 weeks for the licence to come through, and only when you have the
    licence will (reputable) companies produce the CDs, and only the number for
    which you have paid (it is licenced per CD).  The CD Replicators have to fit
    you in their schedule which can also take a couple of weeks, so when you add
    on the time post production time (the time it takes after the recording to
    produce the master CD) it can easily take a couple of months.
    
    Happy Dancing
    Sue Petyt
    www.suepetyt.me.uk 
    Skype Sue Petyt
  • ...

    SMiskoe March 30, 2006, 7:04 p.m. (Message 44924, in reply to message 44898)

    I have just almost finished a CD from our Strathspey group's concert last  
    November and I can add something to the copyright nightmare.  We looked at  all 
    the tunes that were less than 70 years old.  About 10.  I  contacted the 
    composers, that was an interesting feat.  Several said fine,  one said yes but 
    please pay me, 2 said fine but according to proper licensing  procedures.  We then 
    contacted Harry Fox Agency who takes care of the  American rights and they 
    have a huge database where you can find tunes  registered with them.  There is a 
    formula for how many CD copies you make,  how many minutes long the set is.  
    For me it worked out to be about  $90-$110 per tune.  For the UK composers we 
    had to contact MCPS who were  not interested in dealing with Americans.  
    However in one instance we  contacted the composer who called MCPS and asked them 
    to register the tune with  Harry Fox so payment could be made.  MCPS obliged 
    and we will be paying  Harry Fox.  I do plan to contact a few composers after 
    all this is finished  and see if they actually received money.  It has taken a 
    few months and I  did not do the leg work, someone else who's business is 
    internet research took  over that part and they put in a lot of hours.  Hopefully 
    when we make  another CD the process will be easier.  In the process of 
    checking out  tunes I have turned up quite a number of supposed traditional tunes 
    that have a  live composer.  The most notable one being Tam Lin composed by Davey 
    Arthur  from Donegal.
    Sylvia Miskoe Concord, NH USA
  • ...

    Alan Paterson March 31, 2006, 8:40 a.m. (Message 44935, in reply to message 44924)

    On 30/03/2006 19:04, xxxxxxx@xxx.xxx wrote:
    > he most notable one being Tam Lin composed by Davey 
    > Arthur from Donegal.
    
    I have the composer of that tune down as "F. Furey". Can't remember 
    where I got that from.
    
    
    Alan
  • ...

    Anselm Lingnau March 31, 2006, 8:53 a.m. (Message 44936, in reply to message 44935)

    Alan Paterson wrote:
    
    > I have the composer of that tune down as "F. Furey". Can't remember
    > where I got that from.
    
    I seem to remember they used to be on stage together. It's probably easy to 
    mix up.
    
    Anselm
    -- 
    Anselm Lingnau, Frankfurt, Germany ..................... xxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx
    Maybe my definition of "Open" is different than OSF's.        -- Tom LaStrange
  • ...

    Margaret Lambourne March 31, 2006, 10:47 a.m. (Message 44937, in reply to message 44935)

    According to my copy of Free Spirit by Sound Company Tam Lin is the last 
    in a group of Irish Reels and it is given as Arthur/Furey:Finbar Furey 
    Polygram Music Publishing Ltd which , I think is where the confusion 
    comes from.
    
    Margaret

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