Sunday, April 15, 2018

Brass musician explores the copyright and monetization issues on YouTube when making transcriptions

Peter Opaskar plays the tuba and like to make transcriptions of music for the tuba.  He has devised a sophisticated technique of recording separate sessions of himself and superimposing them, and idea I have recently considered for the close of my own third Sonata (to be discussed in more detail later on a Wordpress blog). 

But his article in Ars Technica is important because it shows the tricky problems in trying to monetize on YouTube.  At one time he was not allowed to run ads because his transcriptions were considered copyright infringement.  Later, YouTube changed its mind on the maskup issue, especially after some songwriters indicated they had no objections (sometimes royalties had to be shared).

But then the composer/transcriber/performer found that YouTube had a new rule:  you couldn’t monetize until you had a minimum number of unique visitors and visits.
In classical music, transcriptions are sometimes regarded as legitimate separate compositions (this is most common with variation sets, or with prelude-and-fugue on a theme, often of Bach).  Some composers have said that all composition involves some copying (rather like my statement in a high school chemistry class that all learning is memorizing – in organic chemistry, maybe it is). 

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