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Songwriters - copyright question


una4987
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Hello guys! I´m a rather new seller here on Fiverr. I do creative services mostly. One of the things I do is - songwriting. And I wanted to ask something, naimly, I get a lot of requests to ghost write, i.e. give up on my copyright. I don´t really want to do that, because i think it´s fair to be acknowledged for something you do. I don´t understand why someone would want all the profit for themselfs if someone else has helped them with it. On the other hand, I feel like I lost a lot of customers for not wanting to do that. So, I wanted to ask for a tip from other musicians here? How do you handle these things?



Thanks,



Greetings! 🙂

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Hi @una4987! Welcome to Fiverr. I am not a musician, but I am a writer. Some writers don’t prefer to ghostwrite and some do. It’s all up to you. I prefer ghostwriting over writing, because I get more buyers and can cover topics with more variety. If someone wants me to write from a viewpoint that is different from my own, I can without having my name attached to it. For me it’s a win-win for earning money and writing for fun.

If you don’t like ghostwriting, just put in your description that you only offer writing if you get credit. You probably will get fewer buyers, but if you don’t need the money or don’t find it worth it, that’s your call. You can also offer a gig extra for ghostwriting and charge more to give up the copyright. I still think you’ll get less sales because there are many people on Fiverr who don’t charge extra, but if you are good enough and polished enough it might work.

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Hello, @una4987! I am a musician and singer as well, and I have been on Fiverr for several months. I understand what you mean about not getting recognition or commission for providing your song to someone. My method for dealings with this is to go ahead and let them have the rights (meaning they can use it for whatever), but also request that my name be put on it. Everyone has agreed to give me credit on that so far. Some people do want to give me further revenues for the rights, but that is uncommon. I ask buyers if I can still use the song for samples after it is published. It all depends on the individual buyer and your own preferences, of course, but considering you wrote the song, I don’t think it’d be a problem for you to use it as a portfolio piece.

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Reply to @una4987: You are welcome! On Fiverr you are an independent contractor. You can make your own rules as long as your personal choices don’t break the Fiverr Terms of Service. (I’ll give you a link to the ToS below.) As far as rights, Fiverr ToS basically says that unless the buyer states otherwise or uses extras to assign rights, the buyer gets all rights to any product purchased.

The critical part there is that YOU can state what you are selling. You are allowed to specify in your gig description what the buyer gets. In mine, I give them all rights to use, re-use, or resell the writing I sell them and I don’t use the work for my own purposes as long as the transaction is complete. On the other hand, my prices are already set a bit high because I prefer to give all rights away but offer a low word count for $5. If you want to, you can specify that you retain the right to use the song in your portfolio. If you don’t ever want to give up that right at any price, just say that. Or, you can offer to give up all rights for an extra fee. It’s really your call as a contractor.

Here is a link to the ToS: https://www.fiverr.com/terms_of_service

It takes some time to read and re-read to get really familiar with it, but it can save you from a world of trouble if you get to know the ToS as well as you can. It’s amazing how many buyers and sellers get on the forums to complain angrily about something that they could have avoided if they had read up first. 🙂

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Reply to @annabelle1138: What you said here reminds me of something else I should point out. As far as the portfolio, I would strongly suggest letting buyers know in your description that you will be doing that (or use Fiverr’s own Live Porfolio) just so they don’t get any surprises.

You also made me remember, though, Fiverr also retains certain rights to any work sold on Fiverr. I’ll have to hunt a bit to quote it correctly but I want to get this posted and I’ll edit later. I believe it basically says that Fiverr gets the right to use any work sold on Fiverr in it’s own advertising. They do state it in legal terms someplace, so they can do it, although I think many buyers don’t realize it.

Ok, cool, I found it easily so I’m adding it as a post edit. This is a quote from the ToS on several rights issues. If you read this from the URL I posted to @una4987 it also includes extra hyperlinks with more detail. Here it is:

"Buyers are granted all rights for the delivered work, unless otherwise specified by the seller on their Gig page. Note: some Gigs charge additional payments (through Gig Extras) for Commercial Use License. See our “Ownership” and “Commercial Use License” sections below for more information.

Fiverr retains the right to use all published delivered works for Fiverr marketing and promotion purposes."

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The default situation, according to the ToS, is a work for hire situation, unless you specify otherwise in your gig description. And a work for hire means that the buyer owns it outright: they can claim to have written it, can re-do parts of it, sell it to someone else, or whatever else they could have done if they had actually made it up themselves.

So, be clear in your description what you’re offering, and what you’re not. Otherwise you will get burned.

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una4987 said: I feel like I lost a lot of customers for not wanting to do that.

You have, most buyers want to own the work. While I don’t sign non-disclosure agreements (that violates Fiverr laws about communication), I make it clear that what I do for the buyer belongs to the buyer. The only exception is when he gives me a bad review.

In the end, you can always keep that song you wrote in your portfolio, you should even ask singers to send you the recorded songs because you’re dying to see how they did it. But if you become too protective of your work, you’re not going to get a lot of sales.

You also have to realize that successful singers will hire you again, many times, so why be difficult? Just give them what they want, and make money.

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Hello I manage a musician singer/songwriter and I can tell you for certain I agree with what una4987 said. Write more songs for yourself and then have some for buyers and give them the rights. Look if you are going to copyright a piece legally their is about a 6 month wait at this time. I know because we just had two more copyrighted. They may be catching up however even when they are faster you are looking at 3 months so that alone should answer your question. A poor mans copyright will not hold up in court any longer. Hope this helps you.

Best Regards,

Idothework

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Your issue is really a creative business issue, and not a Fiverr issue in many ways. Out in the real world of music industry and ghostwriting songs, by definiotion a ghostrwriter is called a ghostwriter so as to be anyonymous and so everyone things the person who bought it from you wrote it.

Many people do not enjoy that, they want credit for their work. This is more a career choice of what you wish to do. If you do not want to ghost write, then just say no to those jobs here on Fiverr.

On the flipside because you are working on Fiverr, once someone buys it from you they own the rights. One thing to understand is that when you deliver the work, those songs may be uploaded right into your portfolio too.

It really just depends on what you want to do. You will loose a lot of customers, but then in the music business the goal is to get know as a great ghostwriter, as the good ones make a ton of money and do get better back-end contract deals, just it can all be confidential via length contracts and you have to be really good in order to leverage anything like that.

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Thanks for the replies everyone! I understand it´s on me to decide if I want to do it or not. I don´t understand how am I being difficult though, I just want what naturally belongs to me. So, being a fair, hardworking artist who wants what belongs to them is difficult, yet being a greedy, fake “artist” is ok? And those buyers who want to own all the rights really need a reality check because they cannot own something that is not theirs. It´s unethical. I collaborate with other artists ouside of Fiverr and it never occured to me NOT to name them or NOT to give them the percentage they deserve. Evan if that means I make less money.

Anyway, you don´t have to reply to this lol, it´s just my view 😃

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Reply to @una4987: I’m going to reply to it for one reason, since the previous post is a bit more of a rant than a tip for sellers so I’m going to try to keep it in category.

There is no comparison between

una4987 said: being a greedy, fake “artist” is ok

and
una4987 said: being a fair, hardworking artist who wants what belongs to them is difficult

on a freelancing site. This isn’t about what you want, it’s about what makes money. If what you want conflicts with what makes money, you can still do it. I don’t call that difficult personally, I just don’t understand it unless you are freelancing hoping to gain fame, but no fortune.

It doesn’t matter what other people do, either. If they make money being greedy and fake, they also take the risk of losing their account here one day and the money will stop. There are no guarantees on Fiverr.

If you can make money being a fair, hardworking artist who wants what belongs to them, go for it. You’ll have less risks than a faker because of the fair and hardworking part. You’ll have more risk of losing sales due to the fact that if you want to keep what “belongs” to you and sell it to someone else at the same time on a bargain bin website, some buyers will move on.

That is a tip for you and anyone else who wants it, though you have every right to ignore it. Sellers who seem to be the most successful here long term (IMHO) are those who are honest and hardworking but also willing to compromise and give buyers what they want.


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Reply to @una4987: Oh wow, I’m even more surprised at that. Ghostwriting is actually a very well known and useful tradition in the writing field. (I’m not talking about music here, so that may be why I look at it differently, but I’m not sure.)

In the non-fiction world, there are many experts in subjects who actually have a lot of useful knowledge but not necessarily the skill to present that knowledge. To have a ghostwriter fix it up is very normal, and using the experts name on the work is also quite normal.

In the fiction world, it’s even more common for different reasons. Some publishing houses like to do a series that will make good money and entertain people, but what they want is sometimes very cliché. Series like Harlequin romances are commonly written by ghostwriters and even the reader knows it. In other cases it’s for a series where an author is no longer available on a popular cliché series. An example is the young adult “Nancy Drew” series that originally appeared as a set of many books with one author name. In reality, they were written by a stable of ghostwriters.

When it comes to content today, like blogs or Amazon e-books, if it’s crap no one will usually read/buy it anyway. For music I don’t know how common ghostwriters are, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just as common. I know on a freelance site like this one, most people do want all rights to anything, be it writing, images, music, logos, etc.

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Reply to @una4987: It’s actually a very well known and useful tradition in the music field as well.

But here is where I think the misunderstanding is…you made this comment:
“I collaborate with other artists ouside of Fiverr and it never occured to me NOT to name them or NOT to give them the percentage they deserve. Evan if that means I make less money.”

There are two keys here “collaborate” and “other artists”…that is in no way the same thing as someone hires you as a work for hire to do a job of some kind. Or a business professional hiring someone to do a gig on Fiverr

Yes, of course in a situation like that you described of course it makes sense that you give them credit and percentage as you were “collaborators”. And I am guessing and hoping in all of those situations you actually have a written contract and did offer it to them in writing, correct? Of course the goal is you do so well that it’s profitable for everyone.

But that doesn’t sound like you do that full time as a business, or do you?

YOu do not have to ghost write at all, however Fiverr is a “work for hire” freelance site, so that means what you write for them, they get the copyrights and it is turned over to them completely and you have no rights to it any longer. Do some googling around about “work for hire” as that will apply even outside of Fiverr in regular freelance and creative work in general so it is good to have an understanding of it. Of course you can always create any kind of contract you want when you are dealing direct with a client on your own. When you are going through a freelance site you are kind of bound by their rules and regulations.

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Copyright:

The second you make an agreement with a buyer, he is purchasing these rights. You can no longer use the product or claim ownership. You can say you did it since that never disappears.

In response to your question, most writers/songwriters offer to hand over the copyright agreement for a certain sum. Different every time.

So let’s say this song "The Blue Sky So very High… etc"
I’ll sell it to buyer #1 at base price, I own the copyright.

If I sell it to buyer #2 who purchased the copyright from me for let’s say $500.00 – It’s his. But, why wouldn’t you want an additional $500??

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Reply to @thecreativeguys: That’s where I think it can go either way. I used to make royalties off content writing that had my byline, but it took a year to add up to $500 and usually dropped off as the piece aged.

On Fiverr, I could charge $500 for the copyright to a fantastic piece of writing, but if the buyer wants the copyright and doesn’t want to pay that, he skips me and I make nothing. Theoretically if I was a fast writer (and some people are) I could add up to $500 faster by ghostwriting a ton of short pieces and charging $5-25 a pop for them with all rights included. Some people are doing that already.

I’ve had one buyer who gave me a byline just to be nice and I got 2 $15 sales and one $145 sale from that. I’ve also had buyer who said they didn’t need the rights and let me publish what I sold them on my own blog as well, which gave me sample work to show in multiple places. You aren’t wrong about wanting $500, who doesn’t? There are just different ways to earn it. Interesting topic for sure.

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Reply to @sincere18: That’s true and that’s one of the main probably causes when it comes to this industry.

When I for example create a logo for someone, COPYRIGHT IS NOT GIVEN OVER UNLESS STATED. There is no such thing of someone buying rights unless it’s stated. So in both ways, even in this instance, the buyer must state he wants the copyrights.

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Reply to @thecreativeguys: correct, everyone needs contracts that state these terms. HOwever there are “work-for-hire” laws so without a contract, if it’s a simple I hired you to do this for me, paid you and now we are done, by default that is work-for-hire and you have sold off and given the copyright to someone.



Here you might find this an interesting read…

http://copyright.gov/circs/circ09.pdf



The problem here on Fiverr is that I thikn it says somewhere in the Terms of Use something about rights go to the buyer once a gig is delivered, but now there is a bit of hubbub about that in relation to commercial use costing extra in some categories. But that is a slightly different discussion and topic, though related for sure.




http://copyright.gov/circs/circ09.pdf/about/images/copyright-header.png

U.S. Copyright Office

http://copyright.gov



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