Fiverr Community Forum

Twitch - permission to use my compositions

Hi fiverr composers! My buyer has the following question: "are you able to provide anything that shows I have permission to use the songs in my stream? Twitch has been getting very bad recently with copy rights on music and if I got some sort of DMCA violation I would like to protect myself the best I can"
Do you have experience whit that, what should I do? Thank you for your answers!

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I think the Fiverr terms of service covers this:

  • Ownership and limitations: When purchasing a Gig on Fiverr, unless clearly stated otherwise on the Seller’s Gig page/description, when the work is delivered, and subject to payment, the Buyer is granted all intellectual property rights, including but not limited to, copyright in the work delivered from the Seller, and the Seller waives any and all moral rights therein. Accordingly, the Seller expressly assigns to the Buyer the copyright in the delivered work. All transfer and assignment of intellectual property to the Buyer shall be subject to full payment for the Gig, and the delivery may not be used if payment is cancelled for any reason.

If the buyer purchased additional rights such as Commercial Rights or Broadcast Rights, they have verbiage for that too. Check it out: https://www.fiverr.com/terms_of_service

4 Likes

I’m going to attempt to answer your question and it comes with a disclaimer:

Songwriting, publishing, selling, ownership and copyright are a twisted pile of wreckage that torpedos the mind’s of life long copyright experts. For this purpose, I’m going to keep it to the basics … and even that is a total mess.

A smidgen about me. I’m a professional songwriter (whatever that means in 2020), I write for established artists, have album cuts and worked with some amazingly talented and high profile folks. I’ve been on staffs, tours and studio commissions. I’ve dealt with a ton of split stuff, sync stuff, pub stuff and legalese. Currently, I freelance and work with a camp based out of NY and Nashville. I’m also just a guy that decided to get out of the grind, stay home with his family and work with people remotely … and that includes shucking cheap services in places that are awesome enough to provide a venue, on the side.

Basically, all that means is that I’m lucky to play and write music for a living and I don’t have to make pizzas as a day job.

Okay. Yes, I’ve heard plenty of folks apply Fiverr’s TOS to copyright and publishing ownership. The issue is that: Fiverr TOS doesn’t supersede copyright law and music works completely differently than painting, graphic design, copy or even writing.

That being said, Fiverr does an outstanding job of attempting to create specific rules for audiences on both sides of the coin.

(You hear that Fiverr God’s? I sacrifice this thread in your name, your humble believer - Damooch916)

First things first … you need to decide what you are selling and be specific with clients. Are you selling a master recording? Are you selling your publishing or are you selling your writers credentials?

Tunecore has an article that defines it as this:

“As a songwriter, you own both the writer and the publisher shares but can transfer rights in the publisher share through a publishing deal. Under a publishing deal, the publisher of the composition is authorised to issue licences and collect royalties for the works subject to the deal. In a Publishing Administration agreement, no ownership is transferred, simply the right to administer the songs.“

Now … from the perspective that 99.9 percent of the things you’ll ever do in the freelance world won’t generate a single royalty to you, the best rule of thumb is to tell the client that you’re selling them “the master recording.”

Okay, fine. This allows them to own that recording. It also allows them to sell it, play it, share it and own it.

It also preserves your ability to use the melodies for other purposes or sell a different recording of the same song. The client can sell the recording you made for them and you can make a new one whenever. You can do this by giving up the publishing to your recording or by splitting the publishing allowing for you to also create channels of income for their recording. This is a very splotchy and “my first sony” way of explaining it, but essentially, you’ll still have the songwriting ownership and the publishing ownership to record it.

Most clients in the music freelance world are asking you to create a recording for them. They want to profit on that recording. That’s it. Most clients don’t actually want your writer’s share. Giving away your writers share makes it hard on everybody, making us all compete to destroy the foundation of what writers do for a living.

In fact, I offer a new service wherein - for five dollars, I will personally intimidate any writer that you know that chooses to make us all work cheaper by giving away their entire ownership to every aspect of a song. The laws are designed in a way to avoid that from happening.

The sad truth is that many eager writers omit their responsibility to study the craft, including the laws available to them and they train the audience to seek unreasonable expectations. It’s cool to be a hungry writer looking to cut your teeth in the freelance world. But it’s better to practice the craft and know what you’re doing before you take people’s money.

(Note: That statement is in reference to the “I just bought a computer, so I’m a songwriter” crowd. For all I know, you may be John Williams).

So, let’s directly address your question about proving ownership.

The only proof of ownership is copyright. Let’s be honest … you’re not gonna spend the money to copyright most materials that you create in Fiverr freelance and neither is the client (unless you’re working with a recording artist). This is where the waters get murky. Without an admin agreement, for hire agreement or split sheet - nothing in Fiverr’s ToS can or should prevent you from copyrighting a song. This is the only legal method that there is to prove that a composition or recording belongs to someone. Whether recorded or not. Your agreement on Fiverr won’t protect your clients in a court of law, should someone rip their recording, put their name on it and copyright it.

As the composer, your client’s provability is not your responsibility. If you’ve sold a recording of one of your creations, you were paid for your time and mastery. You own your creation, by law, once it enters the world. The client owns the recording through written confirmation. But none of that matters because to the court, the first person to copyright that material is the materials owner. The client doesn’t just own the material because they or Fiverr says so. That would require a “for hire” agreement, which is employee related and comes with a retainer. Fiverr doesn’t employ you. Nor does the client. You’re an independent contractor. This requires the client to declare ownership of the recording.

If you were employed by the client (Or Fiverr) full time, you would then work on a publishing agreement. This is staff writer job. The client would pay you (weekly, monthly) to write songs with a certain number expected and you would give them partial to full publishing rights. These mechanical royalties would make it worth the investment to hire you and your retainer would validate your giving up your publishing.

The bottom line is; you’re more than likely selling recordings on request. Cool. Verbally agree that they own that recording. The responsibility then falls on them to ensure they can prove it. Educate them in a prepared pdf if you feel that it helps. Most likely, just knowing they can sell it will be what they want to know. No one is gonna flag them for material that isn’t copyrighted.

Again, this isn’t the full in’s and out’s. Nor is this explanation exception proof. But it gives some clarity to who owns what and what to do to avoid confusion (hopefully) moving forward.

Note: I’m by no means an end - all - be - all, professorial level scholar on copyright. I’m not one pocket protector away from unscrambling the legal code of musical cross wiring, muttering Fellini references in a corner, with a cup of coffee sitting on my Christopher Hitchens books, writing analogies in the voice of Dennis Miller on scratch paper that’s so soaked in writer’s “despair” that it should come with a forward by Dostoevsky.

Well … I may be a few of those things.

Point is, I’m just a dude that’s been in plenty of ownership situations, discussions and written songs with artists for an entire lifetime.

So, if any of you are amateur songwriters (you young kids and your rock music) and you think I may be able to answer a question, feel free to message me. I’d rather you help push the rock up the hill with us - especially in this difficult time - than watch it fall on us, by giving away the moon and stars.

6 Likes

Impressive answer.
(and all essentially correct & true for anyone wondering)

I have answered a few of these over my time here in this Forum. What I can say in every case is that it has gone ignored as some other hack comes and posts a Work For Hire misnomer to great accolade seeing everyone gets to go back to treating musicians like a cross between slaves and ripped up pieces of paper.

And I am with you in my ire for those hacks who think that undermining 500 years of developing understanding and therefore I.P. Law that protects and therefore enhances Creativity can be debased & destroyed in 5 minutes for a quick $5 (less 20% fees). Music should always be a craft.

:slight_smile: