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Author Topic: Protecting intellectual property  (Read 1979 times)

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Offline FinnAndFiona

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Protecting intellectual property
« on: December 03, 2011, 10:24:56 AM »
So we are braving the world of Trademark, Copyright, and LLC...

What, in your collective opinion and experience, do we actually need to do? How to we protect not only our name and our current script, but our concept? It's hard to have a really good idea and not get copied...I'm thinking Coldstone and Marble Slab, or the legions of Build-a-Bear-esqu shops that are now everywhere...not to mention the copied Washing Well Wenches show...(Hope I'm not being political!)

I read a helpful thread from another fairy, and I'm perhaps more confused now than before. I guess the best thing to do is to create a website describing who we are and what we do and then copyright THAT, but then actual performances by other groups wouldn't be violations, only their printed materials? And it had been brought up that enforcement is costly, which I recognize, but at least with a copyright or trademark I believe I could send a "cease and desist" letter to anyone who was blatantly copying our work.

Thankful for BTDT advice...

Liz Briggs/Fiona
Finn & Fiona: Everything from banshees to bagpipe, stories, songs, and dance from the Celtic Nations.

Offline renfairephotog

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Offline Village Idiots - Kevin

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Re: Protecting intellectual property
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2011, 10:57:10 PM »
I have my entire show written out, along with all of our music. Everything in that is copyrighted with the (c) symbol and the date (which is legally all you need), along with the name The Village Idiots being trademarked. Take a bit of time and research what you can and can not stop people from doing; for instance, if you're a musical act, you actually cannot stop people from "covering" your songs, provided they follow the necessary steps laid out by the copyright laws. As for going LLC, that had more to do with protecting the assets of the show than anything else.
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Offline Merlin the Elder

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Re: Protecting intellectual property
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2011, 08:22:20 AM »
Regarding the music portion: If you do have original compositions that you want to protect, you need to copyright them "officially," which does cost you some, then you need to tie in with one of the performing rights organizations, BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC, which, as I recall, don't cost you anything.

I don't know if any of the faires have been tapped by ASCAP or BMI, who I know to be extremely aggressive to collect fees from businesses where music is played. Since most of the music is either composed by those who are playing it, or are in the public domain, they may not be concerned with it. If they do pay, it's a general cover-all type of license, and you won't see revenue from it, whether someone else plays your music or not.

But here's the kicker: let's say someone decides to film at the faire you're performing at, and films you performing your song, then that filmed song ends up in a movie or documentary. You will be paid for that song. For a movie, they might buy the rights outright. For a TV show, they may pay per performance. If they use it, and they don't pay you, all you need do is contact your publishing rights organization, and they will go after the studio.

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I've upped my standards. Now, up yours.
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Offline Village Idiots - Kevin

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Re: Protecting intellectual property
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2011, 09:12:57 AM »
Copyrighting them "officially" isn't a requirement, per se, but it does certainly make it easier to prove ownership. The performing rights organizations (at least ASCAP), charge a one time registration fee ($35) to join. As for how they pay out performance royalties...this isn't an area I'm very knowledgeable in. It works differently than mechanical rights for CDs.
Kevin Starnes
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The Village Idiots
http://www.rennieidiots.com

Offline Merlin the Elder

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Re: Protecting intellectual property
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2011, 10:09:37 AM »
Copyrighting them "officially" isn't a requirement, per se, but it does certainly make it easier to prove ownership. The performing rights organizations (at least ASCAP), charge a one time registration fee ($35) to join. As for how they pay out performance royalties...this isn't an area I'm very knowledgeable in. It works differently than mechanical rights for CDs.

BMI is free for songwriters. That may have been why I went BMI instead of ASCAP years ago.  They have a process for collecting royalties for live performances of original material, but if the venue at which you are performing isn't paying BMI, you would probably be liable for paying royalties for other people's original works. It could end up biting you on the bum. As I said earlier, I've no clue as to whether faires pay the performance rights organizations. Maybe one of the faire management people on the board could answer that.

For those not aware, BMI & ASCAP aggressively collect fees from restaurants, bars, and any other facility that regularly has music, and the fees can be astronomical. The small place I used to manage had to pay both organizations to the tune of about $5,000 a year for the pair, and the restaurant ended up just not having live music anymore. They still had to pay fees for the jukebox.
Living life in the slow lane
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I've upped my standards. Now, up yours.
...and may all your babies be born naked...

Offline Village Idiots - Kevin

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Re: Protecting intellectual property
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2011, 07:58:32 PM »
From what I've read, and someone please feel free to correct me, I believe that the VENUE is always responsible for paying the royalties on live performances. However; that also means you need to be up front with the venue that you DO indeed play covers, in which case if they don't pay the rights organizations, they would probably tell you to either not play those covers, or to find somewhere else to work.
Kevin Starnes
Artistic Director
The Village Idiots
http://www.rennieidiots.com

Offline Merlin the Elder

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Re: Protecting intellectual property
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2011, 01:12:46 AM »
From what I've read, and someone please feel free to correct me, I believe that the VENUE is always responsible for paying the royalties on live performances. However; that also means you need to be up front with the venue that you DO indeed play covers, in which case if they don't pay the rights organizations, they would probably tell you to either not play those covers, or to find somewhere else to work.
For venues where music is normally played—clubs, bars, concert halls—that is correct. There may be some odd gatherings where fees are not normally collected by BMI, et al. What I don't know, is who is responsible at venues where protected material is being used by someone other than the owner rather intermittently, like for instance when James Taylor plays a Beatles tune during a concert. If the faire isn't paying performance fees, you need to secure the rights to perform someone else's material, if you want to cover your arse and their song.
Living life in the slow lane
ROoL #116; the Jack of Daniels; AARP #7; SS# 000-00-0013
I've upped my standards. Now, up yours.
...and may all your babies be born naked...

 

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