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RIAA Forces YouTube to Remove Free Guitar Lessons 341

Bushido Hacks write "Is it so wrong to learn how to play the guitar? According to NPR, a record company ordered YouTube to remove videos of a man who offered to show people how to play the guitar for free. One of the songs that he taught was copyrighted, and as a result over 100 of his videos were removed from the internet. 'Since he put his Web site up last year, he has developed a long waiting list for the lessons he teaches in person. And both he and Taub say that's still the best way to learn. If someone tells Sandercoe to take down his song lessons, he says he will. But his most valuable videos are the ones that teach guitar basics -- things like strumming, scales and finger-picking. And even in the digital age, no one holds a copyright on those things.' How could this constitute as infringement if most musicians usually experiment to find something that sounds familiar?"
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RIAA Forces YouTube to Remove Free Guitar Lessons

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  • Re:Fair use (Score:5, Informative)

    by randall_burns ( 108052 ) <randall_burns@nospam.hotmail.com> on Saturday July 07, 2007 @01:27AM (#19777225)
    I agree-and we all should get hold of our representatives and let them know that.
  • by gtoomey ( 528943 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @01:32AM (#19777271)
    The article is rather lame and fails to mention the website http://www.nextlevelguitar.com/ [nextlevelguitar.com]
  • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @01:32AM (#19777275)

    The RIAA owns the copyrights on recordings. Publishing companies own the rights to music and lyrics. If it's an "unauthorized public performance," it's ASCAP and BMI -- who represent the rights of composers and songwriters -- who get you. Not the record companies. Not the RIAA.

    That's the ugly truth here -- sometimes it's the composers and the lyricists who are the bad guys. Not everybody who protects their rights (or, perhaps, overprotects in this case) is the RIAA.

    This raises the question: did the submitter really think the RIAA was behind this, or was he having a joke at Slashdotters' expense? If the latter, it's worked -- there are already several posts from people who are just shocked that the RIAA would do such a thing.

    If this pisses you off, you should be upset at ASCAP or BMI -- who, again, are run by and for composers and lyricists. The RIAA doesn't have a monopoly on evil.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @01:33AM (#19777281) Homepage

    This isn't an RIAA issue. They sell recorded performances. It's the copyright in the composition that's involved here. That's licensed separately, in the US usually through the Harry Fox Agency. [harryfox.com]

  • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @01:41AM (#19777321)

    "The RIAA is usually (more) rabid about defending guitar tabs and such... I honestly find it funny, in a pathetic sort of way."

    Nope -- the RIAA doesn't care about guitar tabs, either. The RIAA has had nothing to do with the shutting down of the guitar tab sites, just as they had nothing to do with this -- the submitter was lying, and he fooled you good and proper. All the record companies care about is the copyright on the recordings. That's why they sue people for trading copies of recordings.

    I guess it's easy to use "RIAA" as a catch-all for anybody who attempts to protect their rights in a way that we find distasteful, but I think it's important to understand the difference between record companies and publishing companies, and the respective rights that they hold. To fight your enemy, you must first understand them.

  • by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `epopcitsonga'> on Saturday July 07, 2007 @01:50AM (#19777369) Journal
    I listened to the NPR article at work today.

    One of the tests of fair use is if the offending use of said work is non-commercial. While the videos themselves are available for free, they contained advertisements to the teacher's pay site: they could be construed as advertising for it. Thus, the work could be construed as being "for profit" and thus not falling under fair use.

    I'm not saying I necessarily agree with this interpretation, but I do think it's a good idea to give both sides of the story.
  • Fair use (Score:5, Informative)

    by zCyl ( 14362 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @01:51AM (#19777375)

    It's illegal to photocopy and distribute even sections from copyrighted books or music, even in a classroom environment.

    False. Check the page the U.S. Copyright Office provides [copyright.gov] about fair use provisions. Among the things they explicitly say are covered by fair use and have been tested in the courts, they list "reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson", in particular when used for "nonprofit educational purposes".
  • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @01:54AM (#19777397)

    "Nevermind not reading TFA. People don't even read the posting."

    It's actually worse than that. Just like "RIAA", "a record company" was a figment of the submitter's imagination. This is a public performance licensing issue, not a recording copyright issue. Record companies have nothing to do with this.

    The submitter trolled everybody real good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 07, 2007 @02:00AM (#19777431)
    This sort of thing (using copyright material for teaching) has long been established as infringement. Many (most) guitar tutors use transcriptions that "sound like" famous songs, but are not quite identical. The student is left to figure out the differences if they want to know how to play the real thing.

    Some tutors and teaching books do use accurate transcriptions, but they have to pay royalties. For example, several of the major guitar magazines (Guitar Techniques etc) carry complete transcriptions of famous music, but they do pay royalties on those. Often they leave out lyrics because that reduces the royalty charges (GT for example does this).

    No its not nice, but it is legally established fact.
  • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @02:07AM (#19777463)

    A followup to my own post. The copyright claim was filed by ABKCO [wikipedia.org], which happens to be both a record company and a publishing company. So, stating that they were hassled by a record company is correct -- because in this case, the record company has a music publishing arm.

    Per the Wikipedia article, ABKCO was also behind the Verve / Bittersweet Symphony mess. It appears that the article has already been updated to reflect ABKCO's action against the guitar lesson fellow.

  • Re:Fair use (Score:5, Informative)

    by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @02:13AM (#19777481) Homepage
    100% agreement, this should be an exception under fair use.

    People have figured out chords to songs from the radio for decades. Is playing the song for a friend, or teaching them the chords, a violation of copyright? Then I should be signing checks to the RIAA every other day, it seems. But that is silly; it's just simple sharing. Doing it over the internet is nothing new (although, doing it over the internet commercially is something else. If anyone makes money, it should be the artists).

    Here is a little sharing of my own. I figured out the chords to 'Cloudbusting' by Kate Bush the other day. But I won't post the actual chords (which might be 'copyright violation', supposedly), instead, I modulated the song to a different key. So actually they aren't the chords to anything:

    B#m A G / A /
    G A B#m A
    B#m A G /
    And anyway these are probably inaccurate, like 95% of internet chords.
  • The composition is still copyrighted, whether it's written down or not, I believe.
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @02:33AM (#19777569)
    Merely being a commercial use does not automatically exclude it from also being fair use. For example, I can write a news article where I include a reasonable-sized quote from a book or other reference material, and then sell that article to a magazine or newspaper. I'm still making fair use of the book, but I've sold the article for commercial gain.
  • by Your Pal Dave ( 33229 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @03:29AM (#19777797)

    Does TFA actually say anything about videos actually being taken down?

    He thinks it's only a matter of time before a licensing company orders YouTube to take them down.
    It's a little confusing. The article about the take-down is mentioned in the first paragraph, which is a actually follow-up to the main article with pictures on that page. The bulk of the information is in the audio broadcast on the first "listen" link.

    Not only that, the phrase "RIAA" doesn't even appear in the NPR article.
    Didn't anyone bother to proof read the article before posting it, or did another strikingly similar (but different) article about guitar and YouTube get linked?
    They only say "music company" on the broadcast segment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 07, 2007 @04:06AM (#19777951)
    Nor does it mention John McLaughlin's ultimate guide to improvisation [abstractlogix.com]
  • by asuffield ( 111848 ) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Saturday July 07, 2007 @04:07AM (#19777955)

    It's actually sad. A composer or performer CANNOT copyright a harmony (the chords). The melody, yes.

    Actually, no. In 1994, SCOTUS found that using a melody from another song is legal fair use [benedict.com], if the new version is genuinely a new song, even if the entire song is noticeably similar to the orignal.

    Anything else would effectively be a ban on the creation of new music - there are extremely few places where genuinely new melodies are being created, and most of those are experimenting with bizarre tunings or similar things. The number of possible pleasant-sounding melody themes in the 12-note scale is not so large that we're still capable of finding large numbers of new ones. Most new songs just put existing melodies together in new ways. SCOTUS declined to ban the creation of new music, so there is no such thing as a copyright on a melody, only on the complete song.
  • Lessons... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Coolhand2120 ( 1001761 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @04:30AM (#19778069)
    Here's half of every blues song ever written in every key:
    Here's another quarter of them:
    And the rest:

    For the non musical, 1234567 represents the notes in any key. The upper paragraph represents about 200 years of rock and blues history, ranging across tens of thousands of songs. Almost all of the songs have a copyright but when you play it yourself no copyright can be claimed because it's your version of a song not the version that has a copyright, hundreds of songs of course are the same exact chords and the same exact rhythm, mostly because that's what makes a genre. Of course you can't blatantly rip off a song and collect on it when it's someone else's music, but you can play it as your own, or make something similar!

    There is hundreds of years of president to back up "you can play it", if this changes the RIAA is going to have to shut down every coffee shop and dive bar that employs the poor musicians they are so eager to exploit once they write songs that turn into hits.
  • Re:Fair use (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mike89 ( 1006497 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @05:48AM (#19778351)
    I'm replying here so this gets seen (sorry, I know I'm not meant to do it). The songs didn't get removed, Justin (the owner of JustinGuitar) just moved them to his new account, http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=JustinSanderco eSongs [youtube.com], incase he was violating the YouTube rules and would have his videos removed. As far as I can tell, they're all still there. That being said, I could be wrong, and I'm downloading the ones I wanted to learn now just in case :)
  • by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @07:30AM (#19778697)

    Justin could make good money selling DVDs. More power to him for chosing not to, but he doesn't have the right to make that choice on the songwriters' behalf.

    Justin does sell DVDs, as you can see at his site [justinguitar.com]. So really, these freebies are in part adverts for his products.

    Essentially, he is using copyright material for his advertising campaign. It's no different from when Coca-Cola's marketing people ripped off 7 Seconds of Love's song Ninja for an Argentinian TV ad. Whose side was everybody on then?


  • NOFX (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 07, 2007 @07:38AM (#19778733)
    "Dinosaurs Will Die"

    (This is not a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is the real thing)

    Kick back watch it crumble
    See the drowning, watch the fall
    I feel just terrible about it
    That's sarcasm, let it burn

    I'm gonna make a toast when it falls apart
    I'm gonna raise my glass above my heart
    Then someone shouts "That's what they get!"

    For all the years of hit and run
    For all the piss broke bands on VH1
    Where did all, their money go?
    Don't we all know

    Parasitic music industry
    As it destroys itself
    We'll show them how it's supposed to be

    Music written from devotion
    Not ambition, not for fame
    Zero people are exploited
    There are no tricks, up our sleeve

    Gonna fight against the mass appeal
    We're gonna kill the 7 record deal
    Make records that have more than one good song
    The dinosaurs will slowly die
    And I do believe no one will cry
    I'm just fucking glad I'm gonna be
    There to watch the fall

    Prehistoric music industry
    Three feet in la brea tar
    Extinction never felt so good

    If you think anyone would feel badly
    You are sadly, mistaken
    The time has come for evolution
    Fuck collusion, kill the five

    Whatever happened to the handshake?
    Whatever happened to deals no-one would break?
    What happened to integrity?
    It's still there it always was
    For playing music just because
    A million reasons why

    (All) dinosaurs will die
    (All) dinosaurs will die
    (All) dinosaurs will die
  • by Maxwell ( 13985 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @08:57AM (#19779095) Homepage
    I'm with you man today's way is the ONLY way!

    The RIAA was founded in 1952. It was started to ensure that all records would be compatible with all players.

    We all know that before 1952 there was NO MUSIC, NO BOOKS, and NO MOVIES!! Because they could not exist without the RIAA and the financial incentives the RIAA gives to artists to produce music!

    My grandparents talk about music they listened to in the 30's and 40's. Obviously they are lying because back then we didn't have 100+ years of copyright, and there was no RIAA, so obviously there was never any music created. Duh! Liars!

  • Re:Fair use (Score:3, Informative)

    by gig ( 78408 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @11:54AM (#19780329)
    > The song they they own the publishing rights to isn't just that individual recording you did of it. It's that specific combination
    > of chords and lyrics, that melody, that drumbeat.

    No, it's just the melody and the lyrics that make the song. You write them together on one piece of paper, put a title at the top and sign your name to it and you are done. That is called a "lead sheet" and it's all that is "written" when you write a song. The melody part counts for half the money and the lyrics count for the other half. When you see a song has two writers, often one did the melody and one did the lyrics.

    What chords to use, what rhythms, the tempo, how syncopated you play, what instruments you use ... these are all part of the arrangement. You can give one lead sheet to 20 arrangers and get back 20 different sets of chords for the same song. An arrangement cannot be copyrighted. The guitar and voice acoustic version of a song or a 50-piece orchestra, it is the same underlying song, one melody and lyrics on one lead sheet.

  • Re:Fair use (Score:3, Informative)

    by senatorpjt ( 709879 ) on Saturday July 07, 2007 @12:55PM (#19780837)
    For covers, you still have to pay royalties to the songwriters, but not the performers.

Happiness is twin floppies.