Copyright
Rather obviously, several of the works that I have tackled
are recent and therefore in copyright

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Let's be clear!
  • I do not have a problem with copyright acknowledgment in principle;
  • I fully recognise the hard work that composers and lyricists have put in over the years;
  • I am happy to pay reasonable fees in respect of ALL copyright material.

BUT I am finding several issues:

1. Pro rata: Most copyright holders/music publishers are used to fees being allocated across several complete items in a hymnbook. This material, once published, is static. A rate is negotiated for the production of the book which will run probably to tens of thousands of printed words and music and hundreds of thousands or millions of sets of lyrics. Pro rata clearly works for the publication of a hymnbook.
But The Complete Hymn (You are the Conductor!) is a living developing volume designed to be augmented with new material being added as it comes along. The idea that copyright fees should be distributed across all copyright holders in a pro rata way is virtually impossible in these circumstances.
A fixed percentage on a pro rata basis across only those items in copyright fails were I to remove all but a few items; I would still be paying that percentage (typically 12.5%) on ALL takings to include just one or two items in copyright. Again, perhaps this works with standard hymnbooks because of a relative consistency in the balance of inclusion of the old, which is FREE and the new for which FEEs are payable.

2. Arrangements: It is generally accepted that copyright of an arrangement of a song remains with the original copyright holder. But this has lead to some odd situations. In one instance the copyright holder has indicated that the composer(s) do not like the arrangement(s) that I have made and so may not be prepared to issue a licence. I question this. The issue here is that the item HAS been published as it is. That does not mean that it is perfect, and in the church world and organ world in particular, composers must expect their work to be interpreted. I have been asked to work with the composer(s) in respect of such items and I will try; but I think that copyright holders do not retain the right to withhold permission just because they or a composer do not like my arrangement. 
If a copyright holder withholds permission for this reason alone it is likely that I will publish anyway having first offered a reasonable fee.

In short, if you don't want your work interpreted, DON'T PUBLISH IN THE FIRST PLACE!!

I face just the same; I am sure that there will be much criticism of this work; in some circles it will be seen as radical. There are many and various reasons why organists will shy away from using the techniques and ideas set out in The Complete Hymn and I have heard some already. But the bottom line is that if it really works that is good enough for me. If on occasion it doesn't, I will want to know why and will work on it.

3. Extracts: In the vast majority of instances I am proposing to print one or more very small pieces of music that are to be read alongside the hymnbook where the full item can be found. I suggest a few bars of music for the playover and on most occasions a bridge too. Sometimes only a short melody is used on a single stave, otherwise I use a fuller notation. Rarely do I wish to print the whole piece. Lyrics often include just the title or first lines. It is because of the brief nature of what I propose that fees equivalent to 12.5% are unacceptable apart from full renditions. I will not be seeking any permission regarding lyrics where only the accepted title or first lines are used.

4. The numbers game: Initially I aimed to print about 500 volumes. This is a large target for such a specialist volume. It represents a tiny proportion compared with hymnbooks and in any case The Complete Hymn is NOT intended to replace any hymnbook but to augment it. Typical fee rates have often been drawn up assuming that initial sales will run into thousands which they most probably won't. [update: initial sales are below 50.]

5. How much to pay: Inevitably there are issues here, but some copyright holders DO understand what I am trying to achieve and have proposed relatively nominal fees based on the low likely output of The Complete Hymn and the (mostly) miniscule musical extracts that I wish to print. I am pleased at their understanding but others are insisting on certain rates to be calculated across the whole publication on a pro rata basis and that is unacceptable. In one instance a copyright holder has sought such a high fee that I have removed the music graphic without any significant loss of interpretation, but they have lost a fee.

I really do hope that this will not be repeated.

I respectfully suggest that all copyright holders should bear in mind that if this proves to be a successful publication they will inevitably gain considerable additional fees in the future in two important respects: 
1. From me - which I shall be delighted to pay! and
2. From increased use of the songs for which they hold the copyright.

The process of learning to play these modern songs from the method and examples set out in The Complete Hymn will spread further to all such hymns and songs for the benefit of everyone!

 
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The Complete Hymn - August 2023