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Re: Musical files and chords

On Fri, Jan 16, 2004 at 02:01:48PM +0100, Raphael Goulais wrote:
> Hi all,
> I made an ITP for a software named mma. This one generates musical
> accompaniment based on chords. The generated files are midi files.
> The upstream does provides examples, based on music that are not free.
> He thinks that distributing chords, and not melody, is legal. I tried to
> find some references about this and did not found anything useful.
> Can some one give me some web resources where I could find informations
> about this ? Here is the quote from upstream :
> > I may be wrong ... but I don't think that I am :) The .mma files
> > are all permissible since the ONLY contain the CHORDS, not the melody
> > and lyrics. Ummm, exception on lyrics is the file twinkle.mma; and I
> > think that is PD.
> >
> > The .mid files are fine as well since they are all generated from the
> > .mma files via mma.
> > 
> > Please check around on this with the legal experts, but I'm quite
> > sure that chord files are okay. If not, I'd like to know as well.
> > Certainly, lyrics are a problem and if I were to show melody on non-PD
> > songs that would be as well.
> As you can see, he's willing to know. This is good, if I can find a way
> to convince him with your help (or that you tell me he's right).


I don't have any law quotations, but I have a data point handy
in print form.

In the widely used Danish songbook "555 Sange" (555 songs), the
preface to the Second Edition reads in its entirety

   2. Edition
   is identical to 1. edition except for
   128 melodies, whose chord annotations
   have been removed due to Copyright

(and this book does contain the musical notes for all the

Given that this is from a professional publisher, who has
obviously done extremely thorough copyright clearing
negotiations to get all those 555 melodies in the book, one
might assume that they did not remove those chord annotations
without strong legal advice of its necessity.

You may be able to find similar footnotes or prefaces in melody
books in your own language.


For those not familiar with that book, it was intended as a
one-stop collection of all the songs one might need in school
from third to tenth grade, ranging from old psalms to "Blowin'
In the Wind" (and the latter still has chords).

This message is hastily written, please ignore any unpleasant wordings,
do not consider it a binding commitment, even if its phrasing may
indicate so. Its contents may be deliberately or accidentally untrue.
Trademarks and other things belong to their owners, if any.

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