Monday, February 05, 2007

Oof. What a Mess.

I apparently have not had enough distractions today, and for some reason I followed a link to the Women of Web 2.0 Newsletter, February edition.

First, let's pause and reflect on the fact that this is distributed as a PDF, rather than, say, a Web 2.0 technology like a wiki or blog.

Second, the main feature by Karoli Hayes is just wrong. Basically, her son was paid to transcribe an old rock drumming part, which was subsequently published without giving him credit. She misses the key point, that her son was doing "work for hire," which, from the Wikipedia: an exception to the general rule that the person who actually creates a work is the legally-recognized author of that work. According to copyright law in most countries, if a work is "made for hire", the employer—not the employee—is considered the legal author.

This is a doubly vague case because she doesn't specify who the original artist was (was he the same as the drummer who commissioned the transcription?) and regardless, copyright around drum parts is a particularly murky territory. Again, from the Wikipedia:

Arrangers in pop music recordings often add parts for orchestral or band instruments involving new material such that the arrangers may reasonably be considered co-composers, although for copyright and royality purposes usually are not. Rhythm section parts are usually improvised or otherwise invented by the performers themselves using chord symbols or a lead sheet as a guide.

If you scribble a doodle on a napkin, that's copyrighted. Guitar part: copyrighted. Can you publish a transcription of a guitar part without the permission of the copyright holder of the song? No. But a drum part and transcription? I (a drummer with several albums to my credit) am left wondering.

Lastly, the newsletter is published under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa license, but their download page says:

We ask that you DO NOT upload or post the newsletter on any other website. You are welcome to link to this newsletter and print it out (AS IS) for distribution on your immediate campus only.

So... what's the point of using a Creative Commons license at all?

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