[joe-frank-list] Music royalties & Wiretap

Erik Shirokoff shiro at uclink4.berkeley.edu
Mon Aug 8 13:50:42 PDT 2005

Hi Matt,

If you find out anything interesting about copyright law and the music used in audio collage, I'd be quite interested to hear it.  

I was under the impression that, at least in the U.S., most public radio stations pay annual licensing fees to ascap/bmi or other music industry associations for blanket published audio licenses.   So, if you make it on the radio, you're probably covered even if you can't claim fair use.

If you publish it yourself, then it's less clear (at least to me.)  I remember reading that transom.org pays ascap online-broadcast fees to cover their work.  Whether that's really necessary or just a precaution against unreasonable lawsuits, I don't know.  For making demo tapes you could always try to use creative commons licensed music (for example, stuff from magnatune.com).  You couldn't sell CD's of the stuff, but you could at least give them away without worry.

A few possibly useful references:

Stanford's fair use and copyright law archive:

negativland's copyright stuff:

Best of luck with the audio work.  Don't forget to give us a link when there's some audio available.

P.S. I agree with your take on Jonathan Goldstein.  I've always found his contributions to This American Life irritating.  I'd put him in the category of annoying, passionless narcissists occupied by Woody Allen and Spalding Gray - people who really ought to be paying the audience to see their work rather than the other way around. (Which perhaps says something about the correlation between my own tastes and qualities that lead to commercial success.)  That said, I haven't heard Wiretap yet, so perhaps he's put together something more interesting than his past fare.

- Erik

On Mon, Aug 08, 2005 at 02:02:05PM +0000, Matthew Shepherd wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'm currently working on my own Joe Frank Cough Rip-Off Cough Tribute 
> project. Basically heisting his monologue-and-intervew-over-ambience 
> format. Hopefully with enough of a unique and personal spin to make it more 
> than just Joe Frank Lite, but at least I'm being honest with myself: I'm 
> starting by emulating an artist I deeply admire, and hopefully my own voice 
> will grow from there. Like Bill Sienkiewicz starting as a lesser  Neal 
> Adams clone, if you're into comics.
> I am curious, however, about whether Joe or KCRW ever had to pay royalties 
> on the background music used in Joe projects. It's copyrighted stuff, 
> obviously, and radio can be pretty loosey-goosey about how royalties and 
> "fair use" works. I'm hoping to work with some local musicians on this 
> project, side-stepping the problem altogether, but it would be good to know 
> how this stuff works. I'm in Canada, if that makes a difference.
> Also: Joe Frank fans might get a charge out of Wiretap, on CBC radio. It's 
> kind of crushing for me to listen to, because I've been developing this 
> project for several years and then Wiretap turned up just when I was 
> prepping a CBC pitch, basically occupying the Joe Frank wannabe position. 
> I'm not a huge fan -- I find the host ridiculously self-absorbed, and all 
> the worse for making fun of being self-absorbed but doing so in a very "ha 
> ha I'm looking at myself critically aren't I clever and post-modern" sort 
> of way. Recently, he's been doing his own versions of bible stories.
> It's hard to say whether this is an intentional Joe Frank rip-off or just 
> somebody thinking they're brilliantly original 20 years after the fact; Joe 
> Frank has certainly never been mentioned on the show to my knowledge. But 
> Frank fans might get a charge out of it. I'm still a little sour grapey 
> about the whole thing, so I think that's jaundiced my ear a bit.
> - Matt
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