© questions? … © answers!


What's a derivative?

Derivative works

A derivative work is a work based upon one or more pre-existing works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.
- -MJD

Fair Use Ain't What You Think It Is

I recently spoke at the New Media Consortium Summer 2008 Conference held at Princeton University.

Here's a link to the PDF of the Conference Proceedings:

- - MJD


We’ve just received an ISBN number 978-0-615-25156-1 for The Teacher’s Guide to Copyright. This means that the book will be available from online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can still click the handy Lulu button to buy a hard copy or download. - - - MJD

Compressed Video Distance Learning

This semester I’ll be teaching my Legal Issues in the Music Industry course at Loyola University in New Orleans, and at Bossier Parish CC near Shreveport. Live classes will be held at BPCC & sent by compressed video to Loyola’s College of Business & their College of Music and Fine Arts. When I’m in New Orleans, I’ll teach live there and broadcast back to BPCC. The copyright and TEACH Act impact is that what a teacher can do in a live classroom isn’t automatically considered “fair use” when it’s sent over a digital network system like compressed video. Not to worry, I referred to The Teacher’s Guide to Copyright to answer a question that came up. - - - MJD

Back to School

It’s back to school time. Teachers are making their lesson plans & choosing media for their classes & online projects. It’s a perfect time to read The Teacher’s Guide to Copyright to answer all your questions. (I looked at it myself to answer a quick question that I had.) - - - MJD

PDF of NMC Princeton presentation

If you’d like a PDF of our presentation on Fair Use from the 2008 New Media Consortium meeting at Princeton in June, just e-mail me at

nmc 2008 Princeton

I’m proud to announce that our presentation “Fair Use Ain’t What You Think It Is” was a resounding success at the New Media Consortium on June 13. The room was set up for an audience of 30, but over 50 attended. There were many excellent questions from the participants who represented dozens of colleges & universities from across the US. If I didn’t answer one of your questions, please feel free to e-mail me - - - MJD

Teacher’s Guide to Copyright at

Many of you asked about making the Teacher’s Guide to Copyright available in hardcopy instead of just a download. I’ve spent this week working on the book & galley copies are on the way for final edits & approval. - - - MJD

Teacher’s Guide to Copyright

We are proud to announce our second publication: the Teacher’s Guide to Copyright.  It’s packed with info for educators on copyright, Fair Use, the TEACH Act.  There are sections on both traditional face-to-face and digital classrooms.  It also includes a handy checklist to guide teachers through Fair Use issues. - - MJD

COMING SOON: The Teacher’s Guide to Copyright

BuzzGig’s newest book, The Teacher’s Guide to Copyright, is in its final draft.  It will be posted here shortly.  The Teacher’s Guide covers everything an educator needs to know about copyright, Fair Use, and the TEACH Act, with special sections on the live classroom, the digital classroom, and Creative Commons.  We even include checklists for the do’s & don’ts of Fair Use & the TEACH Act.  - - MJD

nmc New Media Consortium speech June 13 2008

Our seminar, FAIR USE AIN’T WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: Copyright and Fair Use in the Digital Classroom will be presented June 13 at Princeton University. Please join us. -  MJD

Precision of Language

Our language must be very clear when talking about “playing music”. We must
distinguish between the use of a composition & the use of a sound recording.
Songwriters & publishers earn money from compositions. Their copyright claim is filed on Form PA, and a standard c in a circle © copyright symbol is used. This is called the PUBLISHING side of the music business.
Record labels & recording artists earn money from sound recordings. Their claim is filed in Washington on Form SR and is indicated by a P in a circle symbol (P). This is the LABEL side of the industry.
The next time you look at a CD, you’ll find a list of songs, their titles, composers & publishing companies. Then on the back cover, you’ll see the (P) symbol next to the name of a record label.
Sony Records may own the copyright to the sound recording, but the publishers own the compositions. - - MJD

How long does a copyright last?

How long does a copyright last?

That depends on how long you last. If the work was created after January 1, 1978, then the copyright lasts for the life of the Author plus seventy (70) years. If it was a joint work (two or more Authors contributed), the copyright lasts for the life of the last surviving Joint Author plus seventy (70) years.
If it was a work for hire, (the work of an employee or contractor), then copyright lasts in the name of the Employer for ninety-five (95) years after publication or one hundred and twenty (120) years after creation, whichever is shorter. The same applies for anonymous and pseudonymous works, unless the author's identity is revealed on the registration.
- - MJD