Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy

Huh? Licensing & Copyrights On The Web? I thought is was FREE?


About two weeks ago I completed guitar tabs for some VERY well known pop tunes that I play that youtubers had requested non-stop. Just check out my youtube channel and take an educated guess as to which tunes 🙂

After painstakingly writing tablature for my own arrangements I figured I’d give out lessons on fragments and sell them.

Whoa…not so fast Buddy! Even though the arrangements are original, the tune is someone else’s, and I’d need licensing rights from the print publisher.

I yanked the stuff immediately, and wondered what the future will bring…

Publishers and record companies are SCRAMBLING to stay afloat!!! In fact, they have even yanked a guitar teacher off youtube for teaching chords to Rolling Stones tunes!

Executives have been screwing musicians so long, it’s great to see that exploiting musicians is no longer a lucrative business for them. What is worrisome though is that the public can also get around paying the musicians for their stuff…


This got me thinking – how the heck will music, video and any other printed material that is intellectual property be protected? Or is the “stuff”, the material simply now an “advert” to sell a service?

For example, should a musician or band give away mp3’s and videos and lessons online to get their audience down to gigs and workshops? Do the gurus give it away free and get people to the seminars? Are recordings now like TV interviews? The minute you charge even a penny, you are out of the “FREE” fast lane, and viewers / surfers will check out the FREE stuff overr your item that costs a penny.

Here is the BIG problem. An artist, musician, author cannot survive if they can’t sell stuff. If all I can get paid for is the gig or lesson I am on at this moment, that’s no good. I have to be able to sell products too! I deserve to write a book, make a vid, or record a tune and sell it.

It’s a funny little turning point…for someone who is not known, the web is great for “getting out there”…but what about an established band, author, teacher? They are getting robbed if they cannot sell their stuff. Or, is the viral “everyone can share it” approach the best approach?

If you are a user you most likely love the FREE aspect of the web. But, I want you to go do your job for FREE for a week. If you sell products or services, give them away for FREE and see how that makes you feel!


A POSSIBLE BRAINSTORM, and what do you think of it?

Since computer OS’s upgrade constantly and we need new machines every few years to keep up with the ever incrreasing software needs, I think this issue lies in the hands of the software companies (Apple’s I tunes, Adobe PDF and other companies).

Every document / mp3 / video will need a fingerprint that checks a big database in the sky to see if the computer is licensed to play the file. This will also trickle to ipods, iphones, etc.

(Itunes is attempting this.)

Each inventor/ author / musician / company will be able to log into the database and set prices, track users. Or companies, if they are advertising the artist.

So let’s say I create a new mp3 and post it on my web site for FREE. Go get it, no problem…

I go to my account and register the tune, and say to the database “YEP it is FREE”.

User listens and enjoys.

I go back and say “Hmm. 100,000 downloads? Time to set the price to 99 cents, for the slice of people who really want it .” Or, set a 6 month trial period on the tune so that after 6 months they gotta pay.

The next time the user goes to listen to the tune, they see that it now costs 99 cents. The software does the checking. Depending on artists, services, publishers, promotion the 99 cents gets divided up.

So the onus is on Itunes , Adobe PDF and the host of other reader / player applications to control the copyright infringement I think.

No doubt the spy vs spy element will remain, people will do various “save as” techniques or use text files to pry files open but I see no other way.

The player / viewer application just has to say “nope, I won’t play or show the file”.

I am looking forward to your thoughts and curious to see where this goes…

Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

2 thoughts on “Huh? Licensing & Copyrights On The Web? I thought is was FREE?

  1. I don’t think that everything should be free on the net and am willing to buy anything that I need to. I’m in Australia and you can give me as many free mp3s, lessons, etc. but there’s no way I’m going to make it to a gig in the US. What it means though is that if you were ever in Melbourne, I’d be at your gig and would try to get my friends to attend as well.

    There needs to be a more sophisticated system of monitoring though. What is currently there is easy enough to bypass. You can quite easily get software that records whatever you hear on your pc.

    I’m not sure what the answer is but I look forward to hearing the various viewpoints.

  2. Very Interesting to hear your thoughts Adam on the copyright and , I enjoyed reading your outlook on life.
    I came across you via youtube and as a guitar player was truly inspired to see you play.
    I was one of many who have commented and have asked for your version of the songs by your pdfs and i truly dont understand why you couldnt sell them , when reality is you have taken the song to a whole new place.

    I too am from Melbourne (coincidence) and would make it to a gig of yours in a heartbeat. I guess these days that artists dont make great money from album sales .The climate has changed for good or bad, merch and live shows are the main money spinners.
    The mp3 revolution /digital age,internet etc,has changed all that.

    I have heard somewhere if you change a song by the smallest of margins you can avoid the copyright thing and you have done that with your two versions.
    Im definitley intrested in donaing 20 bucks to you, for your time placed in writing the pdf,s.

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