Music and copyright

I’d like to take a moment to address the use of copyrighted music in the production of promotional videos for books.

Simply put, copyright law says that no one else can use a person’s work. Whether it’s a written work, a painting, or, in this case, music, only the creator of the work has the legal right to use it.

I’ve seen small presses using whole songs by commercial bands to make video promotions for books they’ve got coming out. The question is: Do they have a legal right to use these songs or not?

There are a lot of considerations that come into play, including “fair use,” “Public Domain” and “Creative Commons” licensing. Chances are, your publisher will cite one of these as reason that they’re allowed to use a whole song to promote your book if you work with them. But let’s take a look at those.

Fair Use:
Fair use exists to allow copyrighted material to be used for educational purposes, to be parodied, commented upon or criticized. There are generally four criteria for determining whether or not material falls under fair use.
1. The purpose of use, including whether or not use of the copyrighted material is of a commercial nature. If you’re planning to make money on a product associated with the song, use of copyrighted material doesn’t fall under fair use. As such, 2, 3, and 4 don’t really matter.

Creative Commons License:
The Creative Commons License lets others distribute remix, tweak and build upon a copyrighted creative work, even commercially, as long as they credit the source for the original creation.
Well, there it is, right? Permission to use a song, even for commercial purposes, as long as credit is given to the source! Tah DAH! .
Not quite. There’s a catch. The material (song, in this case) must bear the Creative Commons license in order to be reused. This is a license that the creator gives. It is not a license that the user can claim.

It’s simple. If the song doesn’t display the Creative Commons license, it’s not up for grabs, not even under Creative Commons license usage.

Public Domain:
Public Domain means simply that a creative work (written, created or recorded) no longer falls under copyright. Since we’re talking about copyrighted music, public domain does not apply, not even if the work is readily obtainable via the internet. Just because it can be found publicly, that doesn’t mean it’s up for grabs.
It is true that a song becomes public domain after a period of time – 95 years. So unless the song you’re planning to use was created before 1922 or so, you’re out of luck.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest myths about copyright, music and videos.

1. I haven’t been caught yet, so I must not be violating any copyright.
Wrong. The fact is that the internet is a huge place. Just because you haven’t been caught yet, doesn’t mean you aren’t violating their copyright. The longer you benefit from somebody else’s copyrighted work, the stiffer the penalty might be when you are discovered. And if you’re a persistent repeat offender, you WILL get caught.

2. It’s just a fan video, so I’m not violating copyright.
Wrong. We’re not talking about tributes, here. We’re talking about promotional videos intended to promote sales for specific products: books. That puts these videos in the realm of commerce. It’s a whole different ball game when money comes into play. .

3. I don’t put up ads on my videos, so it’s automatically fair use, right?
No. It’s not. The original copyright holder can still be liable to force you to take down their material, especially if money comes into play. If you’re using a song to promote or make money off of a tangible product, like a book, you’re wide open to be sued by whoever holds the copyright. If you’re a writer considering publication with someone who does this, run. It’s illegal.

4. I didn’t see a copyright notice, so there must not be one.
Nope. Think again. The very fact that a thing is created gives the creator an automatic copyright. A copyright notice may enforce a copyright, but even without one, a copyright still exists. And if it’s music that’s been recorded and distributed commercially, you can bet your sweet aunt Fanny there’s a copyright on it.

5. But I found it on the internet, so it must be public domain.
Nope. Just because something’s posted on the internet, that doesn’t automatically make it public domain. You don’t have permission to use it just because you found it. It’s still copyrighted material, and you must pay for the license to use it. Otherwise, it’s theft.

6. I wrote a disclaimer in my description saying that I had copyright infringement is not intended. So I’m covered.
No you’re not. Just by saying you don’t “intend” to break the law doesn’t mean you aren’t breaking the law. Taking and using something you have no legal right to use does not give you permission to use it, no matter how you explain it. You can still be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

It’s pretty simple. Songs are copyrighted, especially for commercial use. That means that they cannot be used to promote a commercial product. Like a book.

So, if you see a publisher using whole songs to make videos for the purpose of making money from a product, like a book, THEY’RE STEALING. You would do well to avoid such a publisher at all costs. Chances are that if they’re stealing music, that’s probably not the only thing they’re doing wrong. You don’t want yourself and your work to get caught up in a nasty copyright lawsuit.

You’re welcome.


8 thoughts on “Music and copyright

  1. It’s strange that Tabetha still believes that she is untouchable. She shits in damn near every person she meets cornflakes and no one has checked her. This is not a threat, this is 100% fact, she just best pray, to whatever God or deity she believes in that I never find my way to her front door.

    I am so sick of her skating by, lying and using people. People who only want a chance. She just doesn’t care, hell I seriously doubt that she knows the concept of loyalty, honesty or even love. Her ignorance is beyond measure. The cold hearted way she goes about hurting people, her calculated abuse is one for the record books.

    I am sure that she is laughing with glee thinking that she is above any reproach. She is the almighty, archangel protected “boss lady”, but what she really is, is a sad pathetic waste of flesh. I hope at least one musician fries her fat ass. Just 1 is all I ask.

    • Oh, she thinks she’s untouchable, certainly. But she’s wrong. In fact, she has no idea how close justice is on her heels.

      What she really needs to worry about, though, is Karma. That’s going to take a much bigger toll on her than criminal justice will.

      Or, well, maybe both, in equal measures, depending on what mood Big Bertha’s in that day.

  2. I was talking to my sister today and she brought up some valid points concerning the criminal. Since she hasn’t said anything, sorry sis stealing your thunder, I am. Now I don’t write a lick, can’t string 2 paragraphs together to save my life. But I do know that most authors who use pen names do it for a specific reason. The majority of these authors do it because they don’t want family or friends knowing the kind of writing they are doing. Or as Stephen King did to prove a point. So why does Tabetha have so many? It isn’t like she hides it. Hell she admitted how many times that she is various authors. Doesn’t make sense to me. Why have so many if you are going to tell people who your are? All I can say is that sincerely a special kind of stupid.

    • If a person uses a pen name for a GOOD reason, it’s supposed to be a secret. She splashes hers all over the place, citing that each represents a different part of her personality. Yet they all write the same crap. If you can call that writing.

      And something else we need to remember. The alternyms she throws around are just the ones she admits to. There are maybe dozens more that she uses that she still insists are real people. Anybody remember her sister’s fake girlfriend Sky(lier) Wicker(son)? Yeah. They’re still trying to pass her off as real. SMH. There are more names she writes under, some of them male, and at least one of them is named after a real writer, the same way her Ivy Sinclair is named after a writer named Ivy Sinclair – who had no idea that her name was being used (and work being compied?) until I told her. Now, I’m sure she’s keeping an eye on her doppelganger. Now the real guy knows it, too.

      There’s only one reason for her to have so many names. To make her company look more impressive than it is. Or, in her case, companies. The one she threw at us to chew on, and the one we’re not supposed to know about. More to come on that.

  3. The reason that Tabs uses so many alts is because she thinks it will make people think its a good style of writing. Guess what you are wrong Tabs. A good writer takes time to really go somewhere with his/her book not whip one out right after another plagiarizingThem selves by changing the names and a few words here and their. God this woman needs to grow up.

    • It’s not just herself she plagiarizes. Most of her work very closely resembles somebody else’s. She had a story in one book that was not only the same premise as my book (a female dominant has a slave locked up in her basement), but she also used the same name for the slave. Jeremy. Even her magnum opus, the Dribbling Bitch series, is so ridiculously unoriginal that it borderlines on the criminal.

      There’s nothing original about her “books.” There’s not even anything original about her alts. They all have similar names, called either a gem or a plant Emerald this, Ivy that. And there are so many derivations of Destiny that I’ve lost count. She’s just a sad, no-talent copycat whose only goal is to get as much money as she can, by whatever means are necessary. Unless, of course, those means include taking the time and trouble to establish a legal publishing company that actually edits and formats a book and represents the authors professionally. That’s asking for too much from somebody that can’t be bothered to get out of bed before 2pm, let alone put in a hard day’s work.

      I don’t think she’ll ever change. She has too much fun celebrating what a failure her life is.

  4. Update:

    As of June, 2016, Tabetha Jones has no publishing companies in operation that we know about, so our investigation of her has been halted. The point of examining her in the first place was to advocate for authors that reported no royalties and other related abuse from her. If she’s not involved with publishing anymore, that job’s done.

    The posts about her remain in public view in case she starts a new one in the future.

    If more publishing concerns about Tabetha Jones (Willis, Farmer Hoover, Saulters, etc) – AKA Zooey Sweete, Emerald Rai Fleurs, et al – arise in the future, we will post relevant updates. But for now, we’re focusing on happier topics.


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