Copyright Q&A

Music copyright

Q: I am an opera/light classical singer and am busy producing tracks for a CD. Some of these songs are sung by Josh Groban, Andreas Bocelli and other artists. Can I produce a CD with some else's songs? Do I need to ask permission to sing them? Can I protect my version of the songs, i.e. my voice?

A: You need to ask permission to perform the songs on your CD as there will be copyright in the musical score and lyrics. You can contact the South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) for musical works here - it is recommended that you contact them anyway, especially if you have created a new arrangement of a musical work.

Note that some of the songs that are sung by the artists that you mentioned may not necessary be their original compositions i.e. they are signing other people's works. Some of the classics may also be out of copyright as copyright on musical works runs for the life of the author plus 50 years.

Yes, you will have copyright when your CD is produced i.e. people will not be able to copy it without your permission. Check with SAMRO regarding possible registration as typically royalties are paid for public broadcast (e.g. by a radio station) and they may facilitate this i.e. radio stations would send playlists to them and they would manage the collection of royalties.

Withdrawal of a paper submitted to a journal

Q: I have submitted a paper to a journal and it has gone through the review process and come back with a number of recommended changes that I am not comfortable with. I would like to withdraw the paper and publish it elsewhere. I know that copyright is assigned to the journal when they publish the article. Will I run into any problems?

A: Copyright only takes place once the paper has been fully accepted for publication. This means that you have done all the corrections to the satisfaction of the publishers. Respond by writing to the editor stating that you have elected to withdraw the paper from the review process and that you will not be publishing via their journal. This will ensure that there are no misunderstandings.