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Apple Sued by Estate of 'Over the Rainbow' Composer for Alleged Piracy

Kaibelf

Suspended
Apr 29, 2009
2,445
7,436
Silicon Valley, CA
Sure... Do you write music? Most likely not. Otherwise, you would not write something like this. This comment shows your complete misunderstanding of private property, disrespect of composers' work, support of piracy and explains why music quality has decreased so much nowadays. Only people writing songs with three chords make it. It's because true composers keep their music for themselves.

True composers do it for the sake of bringing art to the world, and don't sully the work with the idea of monetizing it or thinking of it as property at all. And true composers don't attack others' work as inferior and actually appreciate art for the sake of art itself. Your post comes across more like that of a royalties agent or for-hire songwriter than an artist.
 
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rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
3,628
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PHX, AZ.
This is why we need to abolish IP
That would be the dumbest idea ever.
You want to kill R&D? Take away copyright and patent protection and you will see R&D $$ dry up.
Why invest time and money in creating something only to have someone else come along and profit off your hard work?
[doublepost=1558453965][/doublepost]
True composers do it for the sake of bringing art to the world, and don't sully the work with the idea of monetizing it or thinking of it as property at all. And true composers don't attack others' work as inferior and actually appreciate art for the sake of art itself. Your post comes across more like that of a royalties agent or for-hire songwriter than an artist.
You've obviously never met a composer before.
Composers rip on other's works all the time. Yes, there is appreciation if the work is good, but it's not a mutually exclusive action.
And yes, most composers today do it for the money... they gotta eat too.
 
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Zoboomafoo

macrumors 6502
May 22, 2002
403
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The last part of your post proves my point. Creativity hasn’t died BECAUSE artists have a wealth of public domain works they used to develop their own art over time. How hard is that to grasp?

Most music isn’t public domain... the artists first have to die, then we have to wait a long time then it’s public.
 
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zargap

macrumors member
Jun 26, 2017
85
30
That would be the dumbest idea ever.
You want to kill R&D? Take away copyright and patent protection and you will see R&D $$ dry up.
Why invest time and money in creating something only to have someone else come along and profit off your hard work?
[doublepost=1558453965][/doublepost]
You've obviously never met a composer before.
Composers rip on other's works all the time. Yes, there is appreciation if the work is good, but it's not a mutually exclusive action.
And yes, most composers today do it for the money... they gotta eat too.
Profiting on say, sick people is immoral :O Also IP estates like this one contribute nothing to society. It's all meaningless if you don't have the money to enforce IP. Our current system, like all of our systems, favors the rich exclusively.
This is asinine. Death of the author, MAXIMUM. I say back to 14 years, 14 years non-automatic renewal.
 
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gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
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I am assuming a DMCA request has to have some meat to it before something is taken down.

But my point was that Apple, et. al., license the performance, not the composer. It seems to me the issue Arlen's heirs should have is with the artists and/or labels, not with Apple.

In a DMCA takedown request (for the music store) you identify a piece of music, and you state under threat of perjury that you believe that this piece of music infringes on your copyright, or the copyright of a person that you represent. And you add your contact information. That's it. Apple takes it down. You don't have to prove anything.

Of course if you were lying, that's perjury. That's a crime. Nothing you would do lightly. And Apple would insist that you can be identified, so you would really only want to do this if you are indeed the copyright holder or representing them.

The result of a DMCA takedown notice is that the music gets removed. The distributor can then send Apple a counter notice and the music gets re-installed. At that point _someone_ has committed perjury.
 
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curtvaughan

macrumors 65816
Dec 23, 2016
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This DMCA stuff is fairly new; it's not the only copyright enforcement tool. Maybe we could shorten copyright terms to 15yr or so and solve lots of these problems.
Copyrights are different for recordings vs. published written music. Published works copyrighted and published before 1924 are now in the public domain; all unpublished works are protected by U.S. copyright for at least the life of the author plus 70 years. Sound recordings, now covered under the Music Modernization Act of 2018, first released before 1957 are protected for 95 years from the initial release date; recordings released between 1957 and 1972 are protected until 2067. Oddly, recordings released after 1972 with copyrights printed on the recording (or recording covers) may go into public domain as early as 2043. It gets even more complicated for recordings released after 1989. In any case, the Arlen recordings were mostly released in the 1930s, so add 95 years to those dates to get the public domain year. The Judy Garland version of "Over the Rainbow", for instance, was released in 1939, so won't enter public domain until 2044 or thereabouts. "It's Only a Paper Moon" was first released as a hit recording in 1933 (Bunny Berigan trumpet, Peggy Healy vocals), so is protected until 2038. The Benny Goodman / Ella Fitzgerald version (mid-'40s) and the song as featured in the 1973 movie "Paper Moon" likely owed royalties to the Arlen estate at those times. Arlen wrote and published much of his music under copyright as sheet music often prior to being used for recordings and movie scores. The sheet music would be covered for the lifetime of the composer (Arlen died in 1986) plus 70 years. Looks like the written lyrics/notes will go public domain around 2056. In any case, looks like Apple will have to pay the Arlen estate some royalties, the amount to be determined by the courts.

To limit copyrights to only 15 years seems rather outrageously short for either written or recorded material. By that logic, everything released or published in the 20th century would be public domain. A lot of great music - great pop, jazz, rock, and classical music - was composed/recorded by still living musicians, and they should continue to get rewarded for their prior work. Just my opinion ...
 
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neuropsychguy

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Sep 29, 2008
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To limit copyrights to only 15 years seems rather outrageously short for either written or recorded material. By that logic, nothing released or published in the 20th century would be public domain. A lot of great music - great pop, jazz, rock, and classical music - was composed/recorded by still living musicians, and they should continue to get rewarded for their prior work. Just my opinion ...

I'm not the parent poster but we can interpret the 15 years as an example of something equally as unreasonable as the current copyright time limits. This means it's unreasonable but not any more unreasonable than 95 years. 50 years would be reasonable. That would mean having almost the entire Beatles collection in the public domain. Sure it wouldn't provide Paul with more money but 50 years is a reasonable length of time to profit off work and then move on (or be dead).
 
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curtvaughan

macrumors 65816
Dec 23, 2016
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Austin, TX
Apple Music and iTunes are just marketplaces. Shouldn't they come after the labels that put the songs up there in the first place, like Stardust Records?
Obviously Stardust Records is culpable, but Apple, as a major distributor of the pirated material, should have some sort of liability unless they can prove they had absolutely no knowledge that the material was pirated. Apple is taking a cut for each sale, and none of it goes to the Arlen estate. Now that most music is streamed or acquired digitally, it's becoming more difficult to regulate copyrighted material. This first came to the fore when Napster was sued for P2P distribution of copyrighted material in early 2000. Napster, between 1999 and 2001, reached peak usage in early 2001 with over 26 million users. This was going on during my tenure as a systems admin. at the University of Texas at Austin. Use of Napster clients by dorm residents clogged our networks and early attempts to put up firewalls were superseded when RIAA finally threatened to sue both universities and individual students for continued use. Many at the time - myself included - thought RIAA's suit smacked of a desperate attempt by an antiquated recording industry to forestall the inevitable digital streaming technologies. Now, nearly 20 years later, I can see how RIAA and the recording artists and record companies it represented had a real point. 26 million largely college aged folks, often the prime purchasers of popular music, were turning to free streaming services rather than purchasing legal recordings. That was a heavy hit for losses for the music producers. We've to this day still not come up with a good model to replace the old brick-and-morter content producers, including music and written works. Record companies, book and music publishers, newspapers, and magazines have all been affected, and low on the totem pole are the actual musicians, authors, and publication journalists.
 
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jlseattle

macrumors 6502
Jan 9, 2007
486
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Seattle WA
Say a songwriter writes and records a hit makes a ton of money over years. Should someone else be allowed to release a recording of the same song, gets lucky, make a ton of money and not pay anything to the estate, or writer if still alive? I’m guessing your argument concerns hobby level creation, not work product. I work in the industry and I agree the bulk of the income is stolen by suits, until one gets into the stratosphere of talent who can afford to control their content.

Great thought. No, the artist is dead. The rights to their work dies with them or in a specific timeframe (used to be 25 years, now over 100 years). I know that is hard. But the intent behind the law is to protect the artists right to create something and make money off from it as long as they are alive. If they want to save up money to give to their families that's fine. But generational milking of their ancestors work is wrong in my opinion. If your motivation for doing something isn't for the passion, for the general good of everyone and a temporary good for yourself but rather so you can gather royalties deep into your retirement and then generations after that. NO I do not support that. You should get a limited time to make what you can off your creation and then it opens up to general use.

This is the existential crisis humanity is having. individualism versus public good. We've moved away from doing things for the betterment of society and more towards what benefits me. There are many books out there that are good reads on the benefits and disadvantages of both positions. The true answer for what's best for the individual and society is in the middle.
 
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curtvaughan

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Dec 23, 2016
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I'm not the parent poster but we can interpret the 15 years as an example of something equally as unreasonable as the current copyright time limits. This means it's unreasonable but not any more unreasonable than 95 years. 50 years would be reasonable. That would mean having almost the entire Beatles collection in the public domain. Sure it wouldn't provide Paul with more money but 50 years is a reasonable length of time to profit off work and then move on (or be dead).
I see your point in regard to copyrighted material extending past the death of the originators. I think at minimum, though, copyrights should be extended to the lifetime of the composer/recording artists. It's less of an issue with older immensely successful musicians, who generally have no real need for the continued income (such as Paul or Ringo, and many other successful musicians of the last half of the 20th century). It's more of a concern for still living musicians who only had moderate or brief success decades ago. You'll find a lot of examples among jazz and blues musicians, as well as backup and studio musicians no longer performing. The Arlen estate, which is basically Harold Arlen's adopted son (actually Harold's nephew, son of his brother), feels something like a money grab. Harold Arlen adopted his brother's son a year before Harold's death in 1986, likely to provide for his financial needs at the time. Arlen has been dead for over 30 years, and his wife died way back in 1970. He appears to have no other heirs to the estate than his son/nephew Samuel Arlen. Samuel is around 60 years old, having his own musical career as a saxophonist and publisher.

http://samarlen.com/Biography.aspx
 
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jmeadlock

macrumors newbie
Jul 2, 2012
15
16
With all due respect, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

15 years is insane. Harry Potter would be in public domain then, just as an example.

This isn’t a monopoly, this is ownership of something you created. I don’t own a monopoly on sound or music by recording something.

I couldn't legally sing happy birthday at a party because of copyright. Sounds like some kind've monopoly.
 
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DoctorTech

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2014
687
1,508
Indianapolis, IN
Indefinitely? Why should a work of art stop belonging to the creator?
This is an edited post - I toned down my original response.

The problem is that some creative works are built upon original works that are so old that it would be impossible to credit the creators. For instance, Disney's "Snow White" can easily be traced back to The Brothers Grimm who were the first to publish the German fairy tale in 1812 but its folklore origins go back centuries earlier.

Beauty and the Beast? A french fairy tale original published by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740. Cinderella? Originally known as "Cendrillon" was published by Charles Perrault in 1698 but this fairy tale also traces its roots back several centuries earlier than it was actually published. At what point can a work be said to be "original" just because nobody can remember where it came from?
 
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DoctorTech

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2014
687
1,508
Indianapolis, IN
It depends what you mean by "belonging" and what you think the appropriate penalties for "stealing" are.

If I take your car, you no longer have a car and are obviously disadvantaged. If I make an unauthorised copy of your work of art then all you have lost is some hypothetical opportunity to charge me money. We don't prosecute car thieves because "if everybody stole cars then car makers would lose money". ...but some copyright holders are pretending that every single unauthorised copy is equivalent to the "theft" of the cover price of that item, and claiming damages on that basis.

I've a certain amount of sympathy with cases like this that are about either obvious cover versions or even copies of original recordings being re-sold for profit - although the level of damages being claimed are ridiculous, and the "beneficiaries" are often not the original artists but the record company or corporation who bought the rights from the artist's grandchildren.

Trouble is, when descendants and corporations try to monetise those rights we see genuine artists being sued because their work vaguely resembles some old tune owned by a well-lawyered estate - and that has the potential to kill art stone dead, because all art builds on previous work, and inspires future work. The end of that road is that only huge corporations with mouse ears, an army of lawyers and a bunch of pet politicians can risk playing the game (a situation which they'd be delighted with). Want to share your original work online? Tough luck if no internet provider will risk hosting it on the off-chance that it might be accused of using the same 12 notes as "Let it Go" - whether or not it actually legally infringes anything is irrelevant - you can't afford to defend it and it will be taken down at a mere accusation from some Artificially Stupid bot. That's not FUD, it's already happening - just read the news.

We're in an age when anybody with talent, a Visa-card-credit-limit's worth of equipment and an internet connection can make and distribute an acceptable recording. That is a huge threat to the established industry, and overbearing copyright laws are a major weapon against it.

So be careful about making reasonable, but simplistic pronouncements - the devil is in the detail and the end result can be the exact opposite of what you intended - such as all of the "small fish" and newcomers being excluded from the industry because they can't afford the liability insurance. Also look at who are the most vocal in favour of strict copyright - the corporations and (estates of) successful artists who have already made a shedload of money, probably weren't even the original creators, and who have a huge portfolio of rights over which to counter-sue any challengers.
Excellent points. The U.S. Constitution clearly states in Article 1, Section 8 that Congress has the power "to promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to the Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries". The key phrase being "limited times", after which others are free to build upon those works.

I have worked for a Fortune 500 company in the past that was notorious for their use of "defensive patents". They would patent ideas they never had any intention of producing and offering for sale to benefit society. The sole purpose of those patents was to prevent competitors from creating useful products with similar functions to the products produced by the company I worked for. I believe this is a gross abuse of the patent system because it does not "promote the Progress of Science", it hinders it. As you pointed out, the same thing happens when a company buys intellectual property from the estate of an artist then sues anyone who writes a tune or lyric remotely close to what they just purchased.
 
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curtvaughan

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Dec 23, 2016
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So an author, musician, whatever, creates a piece, they die the next day. Tough **** for the family?
That one is a tougher call. In the general workplace, what happens to family/dependents when a worker dies suddenly? That really depends on how the deceased prepared for such an eventuality by purchasing life insurance and/or death and disability insurance to cover such possibilities.
I agree. Disney should be sued by the great, great, great, great, great, great, grand children of the original author of Snow White who created it sometime back in the middle ages. The Brothers Grimm were the first to publish the German fairy tale of Snow White in 1812 but its folklore origins go back centuries earlier.

Beauty and the Beast? A french fairy tale original published by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740. Cinderella? Originally known as "Cendrillon" was published by Charles Perrault in 1698 but this fairy tale also traces its roots back several centuries earlier than it was actually published. Why should any of these works of art stop belonging to the estate of their ORIGINAL creators.
Your point is taken, and your examples are cases for public domain governing usage of material produced many decades or centuries ago. The release of something to public domain should be governed by reasonable time constraints. The Arlen case is an example that is harder to call. Samuel Arlen is the sole remaining heir to Harold Arlen's estate, which I suppose includes all legally designated royalties of Harold Arlen's creation and work. Harold Arlen died in 1986. He adopted his nephew Samuel in 1985, the prime motivation being to provide for his adopted son's future. Since Harold died a year later of heart failure, at age 81, he likely knew at the time of the adoption that his days were numbered. Samuel would have been in his late 20s around that time, so both parties were old enough to know the reason for the adoption. It looks to me like a generous move on the part of the elder Arlen to provide for his deceased brother's son - oddly sort of a life insurance guarantee of sorts. So now, decades later, should Samuel still have rights to his father/uncle's legacy? If not, then when would be the appropriate cutoff time? When are Stardust Records and/or Apple more entitled to profit from Harold Arlen's works than his son? John Lennon died back in 1980, even earlier than Arlen. Should Yoko and John's sons still be entitled to royalties from the Beatles' recordings, the last of which was produced ten years before John's death? What if Apple and Stardust had taken the same liberties with distribution of Beatles albums, and the Lennon family sued? The only real difference is that the Beatles legacy would be more in the spotlight, and that two of the original Beatles are still living. It will be interesting to see if this actually goes to court, or if Apple/Stardust makes a settlement.
 
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curtvaughan

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Dec 23, 2016
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I couldn't legally sing happy birthday at a party because of copyright. Sounds like some kind've monopoly.
I just had to look the history of "Happy Birthday" up. It's earliest record of use goes back to 1912. The first copyright for it was registered in 1935, and the copyright was acquired by Warner/Chappell when they bought out the copyright holders in 1988, and tried for years to demand copyright royalties for use of the song. A court finally ruled in 2016 that the original copyright only applied to one specific piano arrangement of the piece, after something called "Good Morning to You Productions" sued Warner/Chappell for false copyright claims. There was a money settlement between the two companies and Happy Birthday was declared public domain.

So after roughly 107 years of existence, it's now legal to sing, record, and produce Happy Birthday at will - unless you use some piano arrangement of it released in 1935. What a rip!:p
 
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