Are Parodies Allowed?

RingotheDingoRingotheDingo Opening Act
edited March 2010 in The Rock Band Network
Can artists put parodies of songs up on RBN? If so I would really like to see some Weird Al and some Palette-Swap Ninja.

Comments

  • T-HybridT-Hybrid Washed Up
    edited March 2010
    I know they said no covers, but parodies could also lead to tricky licensing issues.
  • LuigiHannLuigiHann Stormtrooper
    edited March 2010
    Weird Al could probably have his parodies released as normal DLC, but not on RBN, because the copyright stuff would be too complicated for RBN's user-submission policy. Instrumentally, they are covers. Weird Al's original songs (even the style parodies) have unique melodies and could therefore be released on RBN with no incident.

    Palette-Swap Ninja's parodies are likely not even licensed, which is fine for free mp3s generally but would prevent them from doing any kind of commercial release (you don't need permission to do a parody, but you do need to pay royaltees to the songwriter)
  • T-HybridT-Hybrid Washed Up
    edited March 2010
    LuigiHann;3570428 said:
    Weird Al's original songs (even the style parodies) have unique melodies and could therefore be released on RBN with no incident.
    Weird Al's original content would also be a far more entertaining collection of songs...as they wouldn't just be his lyrics over a familiar song.

    Because "Smells Like Nirvana" is funny...but if you're a big enough fan you could just sing those lyrics over the "Teen Spirit" anyway.

    I think songs like "Bob", "Hardware Store", and yes...even "Albuquerque" would be far more enjoyable submissions from Al.
  • SirDavidTLynchSirDavidTLynch Headliner
    edited March 2010
    I'd rather see Weird Al on the main Rock Band store; "Albuquerque" is too long for RBN, and "Let Me Be Your Hog" is too short.
  • zack10housezack10house Road Warrior
    edited March 2010
    T-Hybrid;3570461 said:
    I think songs like "Bob", "Hardware Store", and yes...even "Albuquerque" would be far more enjoyable submissions from Al.
    Hardware Store would be hard as hell on vocals
  • MarsPhoenixMarsPhoenix Opening Act
    edited March 2010
    Weird Al has so many originals that are much better than many of his popular parodies. I'd rather have his original work personally. =)
  • KariodudeKariodude Road Warrior
    edited March 2010
    I think people still don't have a good grasp on the cover and parody situation.

    According to the rules that Harmonix has for RBN songs, covers and parodies ARE allowed as long as the artists has secured the rights from the original artists to parody or cover the original song. Weird Al "asks permission" but never gets licensing rights to do his parodies, so those would be out of the question. If you wanted to get the covers if Iron Maiden songs from the "Maiden Heaven" album, those would go through just find because they secured the rights to cover those Iron Maiden songs.

    What the rule actually is there for, is to keep random bands from recording Stairway to Heaven in their garage and releasing it.
  • LuigiHannLuigiHann Stormtrooper
    edited March 2010
    Even if you've gotten the rights to release a cover version of a song as a "record," you don't necessarily have the "sync rights" to release it for a video game or film or anything. That sort of thing would require case-specific licensing, which I assume is why they were initially completely barred from RBN, and I imagine they will continue to be quite rare.
    Kariodude;3570642 said:
    Weird Al "asks permission" but never gets licensing rights to do his parodies,
    Where would you even pull that from? He has to pay songwriting royaltees to the songwriters in each case, and the "don't technically have to ask permission, but does anyway" thing I assume comes from the fact that the licensing all goes through the music publishers and the record labels, and could therefore be done entirely without the band/singer's consent (especially for songs they didn't write themselves) but Al asks permission to be polite and to avoid conflict.

    You can find some of his quotes that specifically deal with licensing and royalties here: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Yankovic-Weird-Al-2361/copyrights.htm
    I imagine it must be quite a headache at times.
  • MarklefordMarkleford Opening Act
    edited March 2010
    While the RBN license text allows for the use of covers so long as rights have been secured, HMX has stated that for now they *will* reject any cover material until stated otherwise.

    The inclusion of covers in the license text is purely for future expansion.
    LuigiHann;3570736 said:
    Even if you've gotten the rights to release a cover version of a song as a "record," you don't necessarily have the "sync rights" to release it for a video game or film or anything.
    It was my understanding that sync rights aren't an issue for RBN playback.

    - m
  • SonicRocker15XSonicRocker15X Headliner
    edited March 2010
    T-Hybrid;3570461 said:
    Weird Al's original content would also be a far more entertaining collection of songs...as they wouldn't just be his lyrics over a familiar song.

    Because "Smells Like Nirvana" is funny...but if you're a big enough fan you could just sing those lyrics over the "Teen Spirit" anyway.

    I think songs like "Bob", "Hardware Store", and yes...even "Albuquerque" would be far more enjoyable submissions from Al.
    The issue being Albuquerque, though I would buy it in a heartbeat and think it would kick ass, is over 10 minutes. Still possible for normal though.
  • wrldindstries302wrldindstries302 Road Warrior
    edited March 2010
    LuigiHann;3570736 said:
    Even if you've gotten the rights to release a cover version of a song as a "record," you don't necessarily have the "sync rights" to release it for a video game or film or anything. That sort of thing would require case-specific licensing, which I assume is why they were initially completely barred from RBN, and I imagine they will continue to be quite rare.



    Where would you even pull that from? He has to pay songwriting royaltees to the songwriters in each case, and the "don't technically have to ask permission, but does anyway" thing I assume comes from the fact that the licensing all goes through the music publishers and the record labels, and could therefore be done entirely without the band/singer's consent (especially for songs they didn't write themselves) but Al asks permission to be polite and to avoid conflict.

    You can find some of his quotes that specifically deal with licensing and royalties here: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Yankovic-Weird-Al-2361/copyrights.htm
    I imagine it must be quite a headache at times.
    Parodies are protected under U.S. law as an example of fair use. You DO NOT need permission from the original musician to do a parody, but Weird Al seeks permission as a courtesy.

    The article you linked to specifically discusses his polkas, which are not parodies, but rather mash-up/covers which do use the artist's original work and thus would be a violation of copyright law.
  • LuigiHannLuigiHann Stormtrooper
    edited March 2010
    wrldindstries302;3570993 said:
    The article you linked to specifically discusses his polkas, which are not parodies, but rather mash-up/covers which do use the artist's original work and thus would be a violation of copyright law.
    the page I linked to" said:
    Tim Montgomery of Decatur/Il asks: Why wasn't "Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch" on the Food Album?

    There is a "royalty ceiling" on parodies for each album (meaning there are only so many parodies I can put on each album before it starts eating into my own profits), and I needed to eliminate a song from the list, so I chose "Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch."
    He pays royalties for parodies. Not necessarily to the original musician, but to the original songwriter.
  • name2comename2come Unsigned
    edited March 2010
    wrldindstries302;3570993 said:
    Parodies are protected under U.S. law as an example of fair use. You DO NOT need permission from the original musician to do a parody, but Weird Al seeks permission as a courtesy.

    The article you linked to specifically discusses his polkas, which are not parodies, but rather mash-up/covers which do use the artist's original work and thus would be a violation of copyright law.
    I'm sorry, but you just aren't correct.

    First off, parody is protected as fair use BUT a lot of what Weird Al does would never survive a legal test of falling under a reasonable definition of parody. That's why his legal team very wisely declines to take any risks and secures appropriate rights in advance AND makes appropriate royalty payments. Weird Al is a nice guy, but that's the only reason he asks for permission.

    Parody as a concept is protected specifically as a form of criticism of the underlying work. Now, to be fair, I think more than a few of Weird Al's songs could make a case for meeting this standard. But the lyrics have to work as a critical commentary on the underlying work. Just being funny lyrics doesn't make the cut. We may casually call that a parody, but that doesn't automatically make a legally defensible one. Indeed, there is specific case law on the issue where a "parody" of Dr. Seuss was found to be infringing because the content of the work was not commenting on Dr. Seuss.

    Another issue that would be considered by a court is the quantity of the underlying work used for the parody. In the case of Weird Al's songs, that quantity is substantial. Two Live Crew's successful defense of their "Pretty Woman" parody involved a song which only sampled the underlying work. Its fair to say that even where his songs make a critical comment, this issue could still sink a legal defense of its nature.

    Finally, there is an open question off existing case law on whether even if a song was protected as parody, whether this protection extended to being allowed to be licensed for other mediums (such as Rock Band). Its one thing to be allowed to release a commercial recording, but the issue of licensing that recording is separate and not one I believe that courts have specifically weighed in on. The commercial nature of a work is always considered in judging fair use, though a wide latitude is offered transformative works. The nature of then licensing another party to profit off a parody is potentially a legally distinct issue that an artist like Weird Al would again be reluctant to test.
  • rockdawg-1965rockdawg-1965 Opening Act
    edited March 2010
    Seems to me that even if a track was protected as a parody and all you had to pay was perhaps (maybe) a mechanical, taking a track apart in a video game would require a sync license and open the a whole can of worms that Harmonix wanted to avoid with the "No Covers" clause.
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