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Do arrangers of pan music seek consent of composers?

Newsday

THE EDITOR: Are writers of original musical compositions approached by pan arrangers to rearrange their original compositions? If so, are composers compensated from the prize monies won from the Panorama competition?

Customarily, steel pan arrangers choose a piece of existing music, which is further modified and presented as an innovative piece for the Panorama competition. This new musical arrangement, which incorporates the pre-existing composition, is called a “derivative work.”

A derivative work must not be confused with a cover version. In the case of steel pan arrangements, a cover version is a direct interpretation or rendition of an existing composition without substantial alterations to the melody and musical arrangement.

Conversely, as stated above, a derivative work involves significant alterations and changes to an existing musical composition.

Copyright consists of a bundle of rights that grants composers the right to authorise and prohibit certain actions with respect to their original musical compositions.

Included in the list of rights is the right to create derivative works. From this perspective, anyone performing such actions without prior permission is seen as violating a composer’s rights.

This begs question: do pan arrangers obtain authorisation to alter, change, rearrange, and even modify original compositions? Provided this is not a common practice in TT, it does not in any way mean it is permissible.

It would seem the steel pan fraternity has overlooked this fundamental principle for decades without realising the implications of such action.

FABIEN ALFONSO

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You did some relevant research Mr.Providence. However, regarding music collection Organisations such as ASCAP and COTT, we must carefully understand, these Organizations' roles as limited to the collection of performance royalties i.e when musical compositions are played at public spaces, over the radio and the internet.

I must reiterate, the issue I'm addressing concerns pan arrangers having to obtain permission to change, rearrange and modify an original musical composition. The question is, can ASCAP grant permission to pan arrangers to make such elaborate changes from registered musical compositions i.e. derivative works? Or must pan arrangers obtain permission directly from original authors/composers or their music publishers? In my research, ASCAP's and COTT's mandate does not grant permission to individuals for the purpose of creating derivative works.

Nevertheless, ASCAP has a role to play but that's secondary to this initial issue. That secondary issue begins with pan arrangers having to register their new arrangements (Derivative Works) with ASCAP or COTT respectively. 

A member shared this document, it underscores and supports the overall issue where new musical arrangements are recognized and treated as 'derivative works'. 

https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ14.pdf

The short answer to your question is that the arranger needs to get permission from the composer or his publisher if he has a publisher. Additionally to make sure that he does not infringe the composer's moral right of integrity in his work the  arranger should allow the composer to approve the arrangement before he makes it public. It might seem odd, but even when the composer has given permission to make the arrangement he can  " object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, his work which would be prejudicial to his honour or reputation".

Mr. Alfonso: I like to say that "EVERY SOCIETY evolves at its OWN PACE!!!"

And what you are SUGGESTING is 50 YEARS AHEAD of the "CULTURAL ENVIRONMENT" in TRINIDAD TODAY!!!

Our Cultural Environment is behind the curve and that must immediately change

A very interesting topic.

Thanks: Mr. Alfonso, very informative...so if an arranger does not register his new arrangements as a new composition. COTT will not collect and the arranger will not be compensated?

What procedures are in place for this process to occur?

Are arrangers aware of these provisions are part of COTT?

Who's responsibility is to ensure compensation is received, the arranger, Pan Trinbago or is the arranger consider an independent contractor?

I recently visited the US Copyright office and received their handbook on Enhancing Your Rights Through Federal Registration, I was able to capture more information from their site...

Copyright in Derivative Works and Compilations

https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ14.pdf

Just remember that US copyright legislation is not the same as T& T copyright legislation. T & T copyright legislation has some unique aspects, according to COTT.

...that is why my questions were specific, according to COTT and Pan Trinbago...

Play Whe - Shadow

Very pertinent questions posted Mr. ODW.

"So if an arranger does not register his new arrangements as a new composition. COTT will not collect and the arranger will not be compensated?" This is correct

"What procedures are in place for this process to occur?" An Arranger has to seek membership with COTT as an Author/Composer. He can then register his arrangements with COTT using a Notification of Works form. The form will include the Arranger and original composer as co-authors of the new arrangement.   

"Are arrangers aware of these provisions are part of COTT?" I don't believe this is common knowledge. 

"Who's responsibility is to ensure compensation is received, the arranger, Pan Trinbago or is the arranger consider an independent contractor?" Once the registered arrangement is recorded, COTT is responsible for collecting the fees associated with the public performance (live or recorded), broadcast and internet airplay of the new arrangement. However, the royalties will be shared between the arranger and the original composer.

Thanks for sharing the Copyright in Derivative Works and Compilations document. It totally supports the overall issue where arrangements are recognized and treated as 'derivative works'.

THANK YOU, Mr. Alfonso.  This could be opening a pandora's box. "COTT is responsible for collecting the fees associated with the public performance (live or recorded), broadcast and internet airplay of the new arrangement."  Will COTT go after Youtube which is owned by Google or Facebook for compensation?

Much appreciated.

ODW

As a Matter of fact COTT does not have arrangers of music in which copyrigght still exists as members since arrangers of copyright music are not considered as creators. However a person who makes an arrangement of music in the public domain (inTT that would be any music whose composer has died 50 or more years ago) can become a memebr and his arrangement would be considered an origninal work in which copyright exists. I know that is complicated but it is how it is.

So MR. ALFONSO: How are you PLANNING to IMPLEMENT YOUR PROGRAM?

How are you going to BYPASS the "WE LIKE IT SO CULTURE" and bring this level of COPYRIGHT APPLICATION to the MUSIC BUSINESS in TRINIDAD?

I am quite INTRIGUED!!!

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