Let Them Sing... About Copyright?

from the infringing-or-not? dept

Shocklee points us to an awesome little app that lets you type in whatever lyrics (or, well, words) you want, hit play, and whatever you type will be sung for you, using clips from various famous songs. It's a really fun little app (though, I was amused that they have no clip for the word "lyrics" despite the service being all about lyrics) and can get pretty addictive. In fact, if you want to hear this entire post sung outloud via this system, just click here (please note, this will take a really long time to load, but it's totally worth it). However, like with many other cool music projects, I'm left wondering whether or not some would consider this to be copyright infringement. All of the clips are tiny -- one word, or in many cases, less than a full word, but they do seem to come from various popular and well-known songs. It's not hard to identify some of them. I have no idea if the company behind this service cleared all the licenses (it's possible), but if that's the case, you'd have to imagine that this service would get ridiculously expensive very quickly. If a simple lyric of, say, 8 words, involves a dozen clips, with royalties needing to be paid for each, such a service would quickly become impossible. Doesn't it say something when copyright law would effectively outlaw an awesome and fun app like this one?


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2009 @ 6:53pm

    Please Sir, May I have some More?

    I just wanted to be the first commenter on Mike's 21st story he's posted today.

    As for the story, I'd like to ask why do all the cool things come from Sweden?

     

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    rstr5105 (profile), Dec 4th, 2009 @ 8:37pm

    Isn't this covered by fair use?

    Seeing as they're only taking bits of words, wouldn't this be covered under fair use? I mean in all honesty here this is a good idea, and fairly close imho to a mix tape.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2009 @ 9:43pm

    It's clearly fair use, and when similar things have been done in the past (similar in the sense of combining short pieces I mean--I know of no previous program that does this automatically) no one has taken the bait and tried to sue.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2009 @ 10:18pm

    Sample trolls.

    Sample trolls will feast on this app :)

     

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    Tor (profile), Dec 5th, 2009 @ 1:10am

    No fair use in Sweden

    There is no such thing as fair use in Sweden. I mean, we of course have exemptions from copyright for quoting text, but other than that and the fact that there seems to be some tolerance for satire (although I doubt that there is actually any basis for that in the law) the laws are very strict. The main reason we still manage is that we're not a very litigious people.

    Works that are protected by the full copyright (life+70 years) need to reach a certain standard in order to be protected by the law. However, recorded works like movies and music don't have any such requirement. So if you make a very strict interpretation of the law here even a very short clip would be covered by copyright and represent an infringement unless you have the permission of the rights holder to publish it.

    It's interesting how this relates to file-sharing via bittorrent btw. I suspect that if you share an e-book then someone would need to prove that those exact pieces of the book that you shared meet the standard needed to be covered by copyright. But if you share an audio book in the same way the proof burden is much lighter since every piece that you share is copyrighted (assuming that it's big enough to be unique for the song at least).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2009 @ 3:45am

    Doesn't it say something when copyright law would effectively outlaw an awesome and fun app like this one?

    Yes, it says that you can't make a profit off the backs of others, same as it always says.

    Nice attempt at another moral outrage stand.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2009 @ 4:44am

      Re:

      Odd. The whole world seems to run off of "making a profit off the backs of others". Last I heard, there aren't too many big, single-employee businesses around.

      Perhaps you were referring to something else?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2009 @ 5:50am

      Re:

      I know, this completely free app is just making so much profit off other folks. Out of curiosity, can you name on person in the RIAA who *doesn't* make money off the back of others? I'm not even being sarcastic. They make money off of other people's work. Their entire business model is based on it. Did you think the president of the RIAA writes and performs the music? Think they get paid a flat fee for producing? No. They get royalties just like the artist.

      Nice attempt at being an idiot, you succeeded. seriously, did you even think about that comment before you said it?.

       

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      Robert Ring (profile), Dec 5th, 2009 @ 7:17am

      Re:

      "you can't make a profit off the backs of others"

      Oh? So every business exists in a vacuum?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2009 @ 9:23am

      Re:

      Besides the stupidity of that statement (see the other comments)...that's not even what copyright law says or has ever said.

       

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      Dementia (profile), Dec 7th, 2009 @ 3:54am

      Re:

      Enough with the bullshit moral outrage charges towards Mike and Techdirt. The only moral outrage here is your stupid opinion.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2009 @ 7:21am

    If a simple lyric of, say, 8 words, involves a dozen clips, with royalties needing to be paid for each, such a service would quickly become impossible.

    Imagine the panic that will ensue when someone uses the app to sing words from copyrighted material.

     

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    jezsik (profile), Dec 5th, 2009 @ 9:56am

    Am I so in the minority? That was really, really awful! How about an auto-tuned text-to-speech application instead?

     

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    Swedish guy, Dec 5th, 2009 @ 10:13am

    This is from the Swedish state (public broadcasting) radio. Fair use aside, as a broadcaster they already have their licensing and payments managed. However, since it is available outside of Sweden they must have checked fair use issues. It is worth mentioning that they regularly strip out whole music pieces from talk radio programs.

     

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    DRG, Dec 6th, 2009 @ 12:20pm

    Novelty songs and Carol Burnett

    During the early 70's it was common on radio to hear comedy novelty songs that were built on short clips of current hits. Also, Carol Burnett once did a skit with under thirty seconds of each song they sang because they couldn't afford royalties. Would they be sued today?

     

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    Johan, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 11:18pm

    Swedish Radio can do this

    Two points making this possible in Sweden: 1. The sampling level that this entails would be allowed in Swedish courts (has been tried before, actually).
    2. The Swedish Public Radio, who seems to behind this, _HAS_ cleared all the licenses. All of them.

    They do actually have a database of all the music they ever played, too, so creating this was probably a rather fun excercise.

    Just another note: The problem in the US does not actually seem to be so much was with the copyright law itself, as the way your courts interpret it. And they of course do it as the lawyers ask in the lawsuits. It's not copyright or copyright law that stifles innovation, it is the litigation culture...

    PS: I have to agree on the quality of the clip.

     

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