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 Post subject: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 9:20 am 
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We recently had a group discussion at the museum I volunteer at about playing period music through speakers in our passenger cars during train rides. Some people said we would need to get a license to play the music; others said we don't need one.

Out of curiosity, I reached out to some friends at a few other museums I've been to that play music at their static exhibits and/or on their trains. Again, I got varying answers. Some said they had a license to play it and others said they didn't.

One of the arguments made was that it's being used for educational purposes, so it may be considered "fair use." On the flip side, a quick Google search about the subject confirmed that many museums do indeed have to get licenses as it's considered a public showing of the work.

In the end, I don't think our museum is going to pursue this, but it's an interesting topic to say the least. If your organization plays music, what, if anything, did you have to do?

Thomas

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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 11:39 am 

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Location: New Franklin, OH
Playing anyone’s music in a public space without a proper license is a copyright infringement as it’s considered an unlicensed public performance. Fines can be hefty if you get caught. Also, you don’t own the music that you purchased personally - you only own a license to play it for your own enjoyment.

For a stationary museum, the streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, etc. offer business accounts. Those are commercial licenses and will make you legal.

Obviously, a good internet connection on a moving train would be problematic unless you’re using cellular data and you have good coverage.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 12:14 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
This is a potential "minefield," as many people have found out the hard way.

The reality is that musical performers and creators deserve to be paid. For every Elvis, Beatles, or Taylor Swift, there are thousands of "starving artists," even more so now that a generation or more have been conditioned to believe all content online is "free." Even Beethoven was reduced to begging for more pay from his patrons. Even playing a radio in the background at a little-attended bar constitutes a "public performance." I have been witness to ASCAP/BMI agents popping into bars, sitting for a while, and handing over (sometimes shocking) invoices for licensing to bar staff!

Recently, a video-producing friend of mine, who makes drone-photography rail videos of various locations and attractions, was forced to yank his incredibly successful videos off YouTube. Why? Because he chose to use, and pay for, professional music for his videos, which elevated his videos far above and beyond the "normal" railfan videos to material that could easily run on PBS specials, the BBC, NHK, or the like. He went through all the proper channels and paid for licenses for the music he chose--and he's VERY picky about his music choices. And it shows in the final product. YouTube will pay for successful content, and this keeps a lot of formerly amateur "content providers" fed and off the street, if they make enough successful videos. In this guy's case, he was using the YouTube revenue to offset the substantial licensing fees, making it a "break-even" hobby he delightfully pursued while on business trips to the regions. (Part of his trick was morning/evening lighting on the videos, and business visits during less-dramatic "high noon" lighting.)

All of a sudden, however, the licensing bureau examined the number of views he was getting--in the hundreds of thousands, and the last video he released got nearly 150,000 views in ten days!--determined he was a "professional" production company, and demanded astronomically higher fees, on the order of what would be demanded of a Hollywood or Netflix/Hulu/etc. production--way into five figures! He immediately yanked the videos (well, made them "private") while he proceeded with a professional-level negotiation with the licensing agencies. (To put the number of views in perspective, I believe that view number on the last video exceeds the paid circulation of Trains, Railfan & Railroad, Passenger Train Journal, and Railpace put together!) He has been repeatedly begged for DVDs of his content and been offered professional production and packaging for sale; he has refused because of that very licensing issue.

Some people find music during train rides a delight and pleasant diversion. We've all seen train rides with "roving musicians" doing the "same old" tired numbers (and some of us flee from car to car as they rove!). And I can imagine appropriate "mood music" would be wonderful during a dinner train or moonlight "star-gazing" train. But I'm sure many of us have been tempted to rip down the speakers in some train cars after one too many recitations of the same cheesy jokes, tinny replays of the same tunes, etc. Just like you don't hire a tow-truck company or mobile-house mover to move your locomotive (we HOPE!), you don't let the volunteer that "likes music" pick a sound track or narrate your ride. You seek out professional assistance or consultation, even if you have to pay for it. (For years, mainline excursions in the DC/Baltimore area benefited nicely from the announcer services of at least two radio hosts from top-rated news stations in Baltimore who were also serious railfans--to the extent that one was for a spell an NRHS Chapter president.)


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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 12:26 pm 
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This is good timing as I am literally working on this now. I have dealt with this before here http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=47043. Because of a change in law "Sound recordings made before 1923 entered the public domain on January 1, 2022; recordings made between 1923 and 1946 will be protected for 100 years after publication; recordings made between" -Wikipedia So anything recording over a century is good to go. I have been getting train and trolley songs from this era and am planning on playing them at our museum and offering them for free download from our eLibrary. The only problem is some of these recordings are in bad condition and need to be cleaned up, I have found someone who helped but there are still recordings that need work (anyone at rypn up for the task)?


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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 12:40 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
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First of all, it doesn't cost that much money to get a license and then you can play virtually any music that you want to (provided it's covered by the license but it most likely is).

As RCD mentioned - recordings before 1922 are in the public domain so you can always use that music as it will most likely fit the period you are wanting for a historic train / trolley.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 12:44 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
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Location: Maine
Frankly, I have found "canned" music an awful distraction and annoyance on trains. The only thing worse is some kids wandering car to car with an accordion or a banjo, singing (potentially) the same old songs about Casey Jones, John Henry, and Old 97.
I can see playing quiet background music in a station museum, but on the train, let therails do the singing.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 3:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:43 am
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Another issue with background music is that if visitors make Youtube, facebook, tiktok, etc videos, and you have copyright background music playing, those videos often get muted. Most major platforms scan for background music and will mute the audio. Highly annoying!


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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2023 4:08 pm 

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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
There is an account on YouTube that presents nothing but compilations of 78 rpm records. Clearly nobody is chasing after those 1920s recordings.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2023 12:27 pm 
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If anybody wants more information or public domain music files just message me. I'm probably going to start another topic about this and hopefully get some people on the site to collaborate on collecting some of these recordings and cleaning them up.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2023 4:10 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
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I always have though that videos use the wrong music for mainline trips, sort of jangly country music on banjos and the like, what would be more appropriate would be music from the industrial age, such as that music Warner Brothers cartoons used whenever they were showing a factory assembly line, working rail line, or WWII etc.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3FCRr3t9WU

I'm not serious, I'm in the camp that says that the only sound we should be hearing is the train.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2023 5:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:08 pm
Posts: 315
Location: Alberta, Canada
Richard Glueck wrote:
Frankly, I have found "canned" music an awful distraction and annoyance on trains. The only thing worse is some kids wandering car to car with an accordion or a banjo, singing (potentially) the same old songs about Casey Jones, John Henry, and Old 97.
I can see playing quiet background music in a station museum, but on the train, let therails do the singing.

We used to play background music around the station for a few years, and came to the conclusion that it was more of a distraction and annoyance than a help. It's been a few years since we stopped and I can't think of anyone ever mentioning that they miss it.

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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2023 1:30 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
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Quote:
We've all seen train rides with "roving musicians" doing the "same old" tired numbers (and some of us flee from car to car as they rove!). And I can imagine appropriate "mood music" would be wonderful during a dinner train or moonlight "star-gazing" train. But I'm sure many of us have been tempted to rip down the speakers in some train cars after one too many recitations of the same cheesy jokes, tinny replays of the same tunes, etc.


Yep, years ago I rode an excursion train that was playing bad music on the trip. At one point, the conductor came through and started handing out chicken hats as they were going to play some song and have everyone do something called the chicken dance. I went to an empty car and shut the door. I disconnected the speaker system and locked the door (I happened to have had a key for that series of cars). I enjoyed the rest of the trip with the conductor sometimes banging on the door wanting to know why I had moved. At the end of the trip, I unlocked the door, re-connected the speaker, and walked off after telling the conductor why I moved. I have never and will never go back to that railroad.

Bart


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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2023 2:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:43 am
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In the USA, anyways, copyrights expire at 95 years, and will continue to do so for most any of our natural lives. This means that MOST but not all of the 1920's works are completely pubic domain, which explains the 1920's music stream.

Interestingly, this means that one of the juggernauts of copyrights is soon to expire. The earliest versions of Mickey Mouse will go public domain on January 1, 2024.

This is assuming the laws don't get changed again. Disney was a major factor in having the copyrights extended at least twice, all to protect the House of Mouse.


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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2023 3:51 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 1767
Location: New Franklin, OH
Straight from the Horse’s mouth:

The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors. To determine the length of copyright protection for a particular work, consult chapter 3 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the United States Code). More information on the term of copyright can be found in Circular 15a, Duration of Copyright, and Circular 1, Copyright Basics.

More detail: https://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap3.html

We’ve discussed this previously as I recall….

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 Post subject: Re: Playing music at your railroad/museum
PostPosted: Sun Sep 03, 2023 10:52 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:05 am
Posts: 123
Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
Pegasuspinto wrote:
In the USA, anyways, copyrights expire at 95 years, and will continue to do so for most any of our natural lives. This means that MOST but not all of the 1920's works are completely pubic domain, which explains the 1920's music stream.

Interestingly, this means that one of the juggernauts of copyrights is soon to expire. The earliest versions of Mickey Mouse will go public domain on January 1, 2024.

This is assuming the laws don't get changed again. Disney was a major factor in having the copyrights extended at least twice, all to protect the House of Mouse.


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