Astrid Bovell on August 27th, 2012
I recently read this article in Techdirt and while I generally find their posts pretty sound, this one threw me somewhat.
The article carries on about the round-aboutness and hopelessness of trying to seek permission and while I can respect that seeking permission isn’t always an easy process, it’s not hopeless and if you go about it the right way, it won’t be as painful as it was for the requester in that article.
According to his blog, Huge never spoke to anyone to find out what to do, instead he read APRA’s (Australasian Performing Right Association) webpage, found the wiki site and stumbled along trying to contact people that seemed like they were involved. If Huge had just picked up the phone and spoken to a legal service or APRA, his experience wouldn’t have been such a wild goose chase.
If you’re going to undertake something that involves copyright it is ALWAYS worth talking to someone that knows what’s going on. Copyright is complex and you often need to know some ins and outs before you know which steps to take and the order to take them in. If you’re doing something for university purposes- come and talk to US first; we have a permissions service available and can make the request on your behalf. If it’s not for Uni, then find out who your appropriate experts are and talk to them.
Using the Fair Dealing provision for parody and satire can be difficult. You not only have to think about copyright, but you also need to consider if your parody or satire may be defamatory, derogatory or prejudicial – any of which could get you in trouble. Contact us in the first instance and if we can’t help you, we can refer you to a service that can.
If Huge had called APRA they would have explained how the process works and would have advised regarding the permissions process and may have been able to advise that based on their experience, synch rights for his (eventual) intended use tend to attract a standard fee of around $1000. At the very least, they would have looked up the work on their system and given him contact details for who to send his request to(saves a lot of stuffing around trying to find out who to contact). Their staff are friendly and if you just ask – they’ll explain how to go about requesting permission to make lyric changes.
Permissions aren’t an instantaneous thing. They can take anywhere from 1 week to 6 months depending on a variety of circumstances such as what you want to do (profit? not for profit? perform in a pub? release a cd? on tv? on radio?), how many requests the work gets, if the publishing staff are bogged down/back logged, whether there’s one writer or many writers, one publisher, many publishers and whether they’re all based in Australia or overseas. If you want to undertake a project like this, you have to be prepared for the time these things take.
I won’t get into the whole process because this post will be too long, but I know from experience that if you contact the person that APRA puts you in touch with, the whole process runs a lot smoother.
Bottom line is – Ask an expert, be prepared for the process, understand that these things take time and be respectful to the people that are just doing their job.