Songwriters and composers know that their material is at risk on the Internet. What they don't know is that many of the sites where their songs are seen have potentiually-dangerous 'Terms and Conditions' that place their songs in jeopardy. intelLoc.com, a new, independent facility for Songwriters, allows users to auto-copyright their songs before releasing them on-line.
A new songwriters' website, intelLoc.com, aims to help Songwriters, Composers and Authors of 'Intellectual Property' to prevent misuse and the blatant theft of their copyright materials on the World Wide Web.
Controversial 'End User Licence Agreements' used by many websites are causing concern by potentially infringing upon Songwriters' copyrights by simply clicking the 'Accept' box when joining a website, Email service or loading a song onto the 'net.
Scots musician and songwriter, Norman MacLeod, has launched a new Internet site for songwriters. intelLoc.com allows songwriters, composers and musicians to copyright their music and songs instantly, on-line and establish full ownership of their material before subjecting it to the contentious T&Cs of most websites and rearch engines.
"We've all done it. We're all guilty," says Norman. "We open a webpage, or join an on-line community, or download a program. At the bottom, it says 'I Accept the Terms and Conditions', or we have to click a box '... to accept the Terms and Conditions.' But who takes the time to wade through pages of boring legalese of the 'T&Cs'? We just want to get to the next page, download the program or 'join the club.
"These very 'T&Cs' very often contain clauses and 'Conditions of Use' that only a fool would agree to - conditions that actually, potentially breach the user's copyrights. Most songwriters, composers and authors are blissfully unaware of the risks they're taking on their own PC or Laptop when they 'automatically' accept 'Terms and Conditions' ".
Taking Facebook as an example out of hundreds, if not thousands of these websites where songwriters and authors post their work; by using this site, the writer agrees to grant to Facebook - '....an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide licence (with the right to sublicence) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat... and to grant and authorise sublicences of the foregoing.'
Or by using Yahoo! '... you grant Yahoo! the following worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive license(s), as applicable: audio or video... the license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo! services...'
Everybody's favourite aunt, the all-powerful Google insists that 'By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive licence to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.'
If a songwriter or author was to be presented with such an unevenly biased - if not totally biased -contract, would he or she sign it without question? Unless he or she was nuts - and most aren't - it's highly unlikely.
While it may be argued that Internet Websites and Social Networking sites are used 'at the user's risk' or that these sites have no intention of breaching the Songwriter/Author's copyrights, one fact remains: 21st Century, Internet-empowered Songwriters and Authors may well be riisking a lot by effectively 'publishing' their work on websites - in what is now the Public Domain, before having established their own, definitive copyright.
"The Internet can be a dangerous place for songwriters and composers. Most don't realise that these one-sided 'Terms and Conditions of Use' are legally-binding Contracts. They can be absurdly abusive to the user. Any Lawyer or Attorney would strenuously advise a client against foolishly and naïvely agreeing to such preposterous - and potentially dangerous - legal agreements," adds Norman.
"Yet Songwriters and Authors blithely publish their material on these sites every day in the mistaken belief that adding the words 'Copyright by...' or the now-defunct '©' sign is their protection - while for some years past, it has been of no value at all except in the USA. On the Internet, it's now defunct and of no value legally. Creative people need to take more care than ever before when they use the 'net."
The latest figures available prove that copyright theft ran to a staggering 58 Billion dollars in the USA alone - over 6.6 million per hour - in 2007, and the trend is on the increase, as 2008 figures are going to show.
Modern songwriters and authors are increasingly becoming aware of the need to make sure that they hold definitive, common law, 'prima facie' proof at the very least, something to demonstrate conclusively that they published and thereby copyrighted their work correctly before posting their work on these public websites, whether for profit or glory.
"The Internet is a risky place to leave songs lying about," Norman observes. "Social Networking sites and Search Engines are there for everyone's convenience and enjoyment - and they're there to make billions in profits for their owners or shareholders, which they do. What would be no more than a cheeseburger and a Coke to Google would be ten years' income to the average songwriter. And those shareholders like cheeseburgers and Coke like anybody else..."
As the availability to copyright material becomes more and more wide open, through iPods, downloads, File-sharing, Websites, Ringtones, mp3s and other media still to be invented, it seems reasonable to assume that copyright material will continue to be on the 'At Risk' register for a long time to come.
'Songs at Stake: A Report on Tunes at Threat on the Net' is available free to read or as a free download at intelLoc.com.