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How can I get a piece of music certified as original ?


Jake49
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I have a piece of music which I need to get some kind of musicologist-type person to give it an official stamp of approval that the music I've made is original and there will not be any grounds for legal issues with this music being broadcast.

 

Do such companies and services exist ?

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I'm curious, too. But doubtful.

 

After all, BMI's catalog of songs contains more than 10 million entries. How couldn't any song wind up being "algorithmically similar" to some other song? How could someone "certify" that it wasn't? Surely there must be some song out there that you never heard in your life.

 

You should certainly copyright your song, thus making your official claim to it. Let others hear it (or, post a copy and link to it here) to see if they think it resembles something else. Keep a diary of what you're working on. If you made scores or what-have-you, keep them and date them. "Due diligence" things like that. Before anyone will publish or broadcast them, it's likely that they'll do their own due-diligence, too. If someone steps forward with a claim of infringement, you've kept your own nose as clean as possible. That, if infringement did occur, it was innocent and unknowing. That you did not misappropriate somebody else's intellectual property.

 

Beyond that, I think you need to buy some time from an intellectual property attorney. "Ask somebody who knows."

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Thanks MikeR !

 

The intellectual property attorney sounds like a good direction. That's a sign post I didn't know ! xD ... I have a friend who's a lawyer, he might know someone.

 

I was hoping there would be some kind of online service... send the tracks in, get them analyzed and stamped with approval. Can't seem to find something like that.. I googled a few different descriptions but didn't lead anywhere.

 

Intellectual Property Attorney.. I'll give that a try ! thanks

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There are various algorithms used by PROs to detect the playing (or incorporation) of a member's songs, but this is comparing a small and specific set of songs against "what is being played at the moment." Furthermore, they are comparing masters.

 

There's a vastly larger number of "songs in active copyright," and of course, many of these do not exist as sound files. Therefore, I expect that a service doesn't exist, and that no one would be willing to "put their stamp of approval" because that would open them up to claims of negligence and/or contributory infringement, and so on. I expect, instead, that the material will be listened-to several times as it approaches release, and careful records kept of the "due diligence" that was thereby done. If anyone then steps forward with a claim, you would have compelling reason to show that it was an accident, not a tort, and that many different people made the same mistake. Of course, if it can happen to My Sweet Lord, it can happen to anyone's anything. I'd inquire with your attorney, and follow-up here with the (unofficial ...) gist of what s/he says.

 

I know that this sort of research is done by studios. David Gerrold's script for the Star Trek episode, "The Trouble With Tribbles," was stopped cold for a time when someone in Corporate Legal, Clearings Department, realized that it might, maybe, be too-similar to a novella by Harlan Ellison which also had the idea of "an unchecked proliferation of things." Mr. Ellison was contacted, and he graciously (and in writing) agreed that this young writer's first screenplay did not infringe upon his work, was not derived from it or inspired by it, and could proceed. Only with that letter on-file did the episode move forward. Harlan, of course, could have demanded (and received) a writer's royalty, or axed the script outright. (David writes about his ordeal as a new screenwriter in his book by the same name, many years ago now.)

 

- - - -

Fair Warning: If at any point "some pointy-haired person" thinks that there might be trouble, or if they simply decide that they don't like your cues, you might find that the monkey's on your back to rewrite the cues while still preserving the "beat points" (so that they don't have to re-do the edits). The ordeals and trials that led up to that "obvious" 5-note riff of Close Encounters of the Third Kind is legend by now. :roll:

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I did some more looking and seems you're right that there's nothing out there for this. I can advise the client of this. Main thing is I am sure it's fine... it's more for them to cover their backs.

 

I'm a big star trek fan, so that story was cool !! :D

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Yeah, David-G's a good and honest writer. (As was [producer] Gene Coon, in his also-excellent World of Star Trek.)

 

If you thought that the Starship "Enterprise," commanded by Captain "Kirk" and "Spock" for the "United Federation of Planets" and infested by "tribbles," was 'inevitable,' you'd be surprised to learn that all of the "quoted" words were picked from dozen-page lists of randomly typed-out words! And, so on. (For instance, the Captain's name in the first pilot [there were two ...] was "Christopher Pike.")

 

It's a very revealing insight into the actual process of doing what would ... one day in the then very-distant future ... become "an iconic property." At the time, Star Trek was fighting barely-successfully to be renewed for one more season. They were cabbaging styrofoam from Mission: Impossible's dumpsters (because they had no budget, but M:I did ...), and turning salt-shakers into "surgical instruments." They were doing what nobody else on television was doing at the time, and the "suits" didn't give a damn.

 

I suspect there's a lot of relevance, too, for musicians and producers. Everybody loves you after you have become an "overnight" success. But the road to 'getting there' is lonely, hard, and full of wrecks. Nevertheless, magic is still made. (Along with some memorably-awful episodes. :roll: ) These stories will eliminate the fond notion, held by so many people, that "inspiration" hands you fully-formed million dollar ideas, accompanied by singing from a heavenly choir. (That only happens to me ... ;) )

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The best you can do is copyright your song.. If someone comes along and claims infringement on your part, you'll go to court.. They will look at your sales, and won't bother unless you're making enough money to justify the cost..

 

I hear outright copyright infringement on cable show commercials.. cause they broad cast commercials only in certain areas.. Like a deli in Brooklyn only airs it's commercials to Brooklyn, not Manhattan and Queens.. These smaller companies use local musicians/producer for music, and don't pay a whole lot. So some of them just steal something, cause they don't have the experience or knowledge of all the music that is out there..

 

If you wrote a major hit, or it was used in a national TV show, there would be a lot of royalties, then someone might come forward.

 

You can't copyright chord progressions, you cannot use more than four notes of someone else's melody (although that does happen)..

You can't copyright your sound.. The sound recording yes,, .. But not a heavy metal band that sounds like another famous heavy metal band. Startrek Enterprise's TV theme used a singer, who really sounded like Rod Stewart.. but there was no case..

 

Paull McCartney went around for a week or two singing Yesterday to people (it was first named Scrambled Eggs). He was fairly certain he heard it somewhere and 'clipped' it.. But everyone agreed it was his..

 

George Harrison had worse luck with 'My Sweet Lord', sounding like the Chiffons' "He's So Fine"... It was a weak case but they won it;

I think part of it was to humble the Beatles... They had several infringement cases thru the years, all were quietly worked out..

 

Lennon got entangled for stealing a few words from a tin pan alley song.. In the end Lennon agreed to do an album of rock n roll oldies (on the Publishers label).. Everyone won that way.. We got a John Lennon album of him singing some great songs, the publisher got more royalties cause Lennon sang it..

 

No one can 'certify' your song, cause they are not officially recognized.. and they'd open themselves up to a lawsuit too.. You could sue them.. Hiphop labels carefully listen to rappers material, to make sure the beats, or samples are not recognizeable, cause they can get sued for using someone else's sound recording on their record without permission.

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Formal copyright registration (in the US ...) is also your "claim of title" to the work. Yes, people who are in the business of buying and selling songs do oblige you to register the work and to provide them with the registration number ... as part of their "due diligence" to show that they are keeping their own nose clean. It's much like doing a title-search on a piece of land before buying it: "does the person who is selling this thing, own it, and have the right to sell it?"

 

Sure, in court the claim could be shown to be false. But, the claim was officially and verifiably made, and the subsequent handlers of the work acted upon that claim "in good faith" and "with due diligence."

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