As the sole proprietor of Twelvemonth Music, I am at once a music education publisher, a songwriter and composer, a performer on musical recordings, and a recording company. While I am not an attorney, I do have a fairly good understanding of copyright law and the legal rights and typical royalty arrangements for each of the above mentioned music business participants. Regarding the rights of the copyright holders for the 264 songs included on this website, it is my contention that the mp3 excerpts and the information contained in the catalog listings constitute fair use. The excerpts are fairly brief and do not allow for acquiring an understanding of the musical structure of the entire song. The catalog listings are designed and intended to provide an overview of the technical requirements for playing a song, with a view toward allowing guitarists to focus their attention on songs that are well-matched to their skill set and their learning needs. Together the mp3 excerpts and the catalog listings benefit the financial interests of the copyright holders by promoting and encouraging the purchase of lead sheets, TAB scores, and original recordings.
Regarding the print rights for the song charts and chord docs, it is very important to consider in this connection that these print rights are not in conflict with any previously licensed print rights for these songs, which means that, in effect, the print rights for song charts and chord docs represent an entirely new revenue stream for the copyright holders. This is so because the song chart and chord doc notation systems bear no resemblance to lead sheet notation or guitar TAB notation, which together with lyrics are the main components of print rights for songs. The melody and lyrics, which are the key components of lead sheets, are not even included in the charts and chord docs. And the charts and chord docs only identify which chords are played, and not how the chords are played (individual notes and strums) as in a guitar TAB score. In other words, sales of charts and chord docs for a song do not preclude sales of sheet music or guitar TAB scores for that song, and in fact can only result in an increase in such sales. In addition, the Spotify playlists that have been provided on this website for the 22 compilation albums in the two catalogs of music on which this website is based may help to generate additional revenue for the copyright holders as well. Also please note that every possible effort has been made to protect against the free dissemination of the charts and chord docs, by providing for the secure download of the PDF files for the song charts and chord docs, and by ensuring that every page of every PDF file will be stamped with the customer’s name to discourage piracy.
As a very small (one person) and very poorly funded (non-existent operating budget) commercial enterprise, it would be quite impossible for me to even consider conducting separate negotiations with the copyright holders for the songs included on this website. It is my hope, in lieu of such negotiations, that the copyright holders will agree that the offer I am making is fair and reasonable by any standard. I am pledging a 30% royalty on the sale of song charts and chord docs, which means charts or chord docs sold as part of the purchase of all the charts or all the chord docs for a particular album will generate a royalty of 12 cents per unit sold. Charts and chord docs that are sold together for $1 for songs in the Popular Music catalog will generate a royalty of 30 cents per unit sold. A separate account will be maintained for the 30% set-aside on the sales of charts and chord docs. Copyright holders will be paid quarterly whenever $50 or more in royalties on the sale of charts and chord docs for their song have accrued.
Regarding rights for the use of my song charting methodology, please be advised that while this methodology cannot be patented owing to my prior art, which is considerable and irrefutable, the song charts I have created using this methodology are copyright protected. The song charts are so unique and so innovative that anything remotely resembling them would in all likelihood be considered substantially similar to them, and therefore in violation of my copyright. This means that the legal use of this methodology in a commercial enterprise would require prior permission from me. Apart from the fact that I am not inclined to license the use of this methodology for songs that I consider obscene or otherwise objectionable, I have only two conditions for granting such permission: that the same 30% of gross sales royalty be paid to the copyright holders, and that I also be fairly compensated (10% of gross sales) for the commercial exploitation of this methodology. Any inquiries regarding permissions for the commercial use of my song charting methodology can be directed to me at this website.
D. L. Stieg, Founder