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An Open Letter from the DTT
By MusicDish
(more articles from this author)
1999-03-25
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This letter is in reference to the recent press release naming the Databank Transcription Team (hereinafter referred to as the DTT), operators of www.dttlyrics.com as defendants in a potential lawsuit by Prince/The Artist (hereinafter referred to as Prince) and NPG Records and their representatives.

Since 1994, we have spent countless hours transcribing the music and lyrics of a man whom we all, collectively, respect and admire for his artistic approach to music and the professionalism exhibited in his craft. We believe that we have earned a reputation on the internet for being a site totally dedicated to the exploration of his music where the average listener did not or could not fully make sense of a song or songs that they were interested in. We have received countless e-mails thanking us for our efforts in clarifying certain lyrics and helping them to appreciate the music more.

However, we are now saddened and dismayed at his latest actions. At no time have we, either as a group or individuals, profited from any work we did on the site. As those who have visited the site can attest to, we offer no advertising, no subscriptions, or anything of the sort. Members of the DTT maintain all costs related to the maintenance of www.dttlyrics.com.

We transcribed the lyrics to the songs by listening to each song, then posting our interpretation of the songs. Often, the lyrics we transcribe differ (either slightly or drastically, depending on your point of view) from official lyric sheets. On every song transcribed, we give proper copyright credit to whatever publishing company owns the rights to the song (Ecnirp, Controversy, Paisley Park, NPG, etc.). At no time did we assume ownership or take credit for something that we did not do.

At no time were we attempting to harm Prince. Quite the opposite. Like any fan web site that is dedicated to a musician, we simply endeavored to enhance the appreciation of the music of what we believe to be one of the most prolific artists of our time. There are many web sites devoted to artists and other entertainment related figures. In some cases, such as Gene Roddenberry's Earth Final Conflict television show, where specific information is given as to what is and what is not acceptable. We believe actions like the one mentioned above would be more productive than the pending lawsuit.

We should state for the record that the DTT did not receive the infamous "cease and desist" letter from Londell McMillian on behalf of Prince/Paisley Park Enterprises. In fact, members of the DTT were asked to "join the collective", but opted to value our own individualism. We do find it a bit strange that a couple of months ago we were asked to be a part of the Love 4 One Another site (I.e., "the collective"), but as a result of our refusal, we are now being sued.

Basically, we are just an average group of fans who love the music. While we believe that we have done no harm to Prince, nor do we feel that we have infringed upon his rights, we are willing to work with Prince, NPG Records and its representatives to resolve this matter in the most amicable manner possible. We believe the lawsuit is unnecessary and will state for the record that had a representative of Prince or NPG contacted us before, this action would not be needed. Filing the suit against us for monetary damages seems very harsh to say the least but as we have not made any money at his expense we don't see what "damages" have been incurred.

Following is an excerpt taken from "http://www.fairuse.com" in regards to the areas of copyright issues. We suggest that all interested read the excerpt and visit the website listed for more information on this subject.

Thank you for your support.

The Databank Transcription Team
-------------------------
-------------------------

FAIR USE CONTENTS

Fair Use Provision of the Copyright Act

Factor 1 - Purpose and Character of Use

Factor 2 - Nature of Copyrighted Work

Factor 3 - Relative Amount

Factor 4 - Effect upon Potential Market

Fair Use Test

Although the Fair Use provision is in the Copyright Act, prior to the 1990s, it was seldom invoked outside of academic circles. Until the 2 Live Crew case. Fair Use seemed only to concern itself with making copies for the classroom and using portions of works in academics treatises. The Fair Use provision and the four factors to be considered in a fair use analysis were dramatically fleshed out in the 2 Live Crew case. Here, we look at the fair use provision and the four factors to be used in making a determination of fair use.

Fair Use Provision of the Copyright Act - The Statutory Decree 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or photo records or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include -

1.the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2.the nature of the copyrighted work;
3.the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4.the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

Factor 1 -
Purpose and Character of Use

This first factor looks at the new work takes into account the following three sub-factors.

1.Commercial nature or non-profit educational purposes.
2.Preamble Purposes
Criticism
Comment
News reporting
Teaching
Scholarship
Research

3.Degree of Transformation

The first sub-factor (1) simply looks at the new work and determines whether it was created primarily as a for profit venture or was created for a non-profit educational purpose. While not at all determinative, this test indicates that preference will be granted to works that were created for non-profit educational purposes (like this Web page!).

The second sub-factor (2) looks to see if the new work is for one of the purposes that are mentioned in the preamble of the fair use provision. It should be noted that this list is not restrictive. However, the burden of showing fair use is somewhat easier if the work is for one of these purposes.

The third sub-factor (3) looks at the degree of transformation accomplished by the new work. In other words, this sub-factor seeks to determine whether the new work merely supplants the original, or whether it adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, thereby altering the first with new expression, meaning or message.

Factor 2 -
Nature of Copyrighted Work

This second factor acknowledges that fact that some works are simply more deserving of copyright protection than others. Consequently, this portion of the test looks at the original work and attempts to determine where that work is in the spectrum of worthiness of copyright protection.

Factor 3 -
Relative Amount The third factor looks at the amount and substantiality of the copying in relation to the work as a whole. However, the critical determination is whether the quality and value of the materials used are reasonable in relation to the purpose of copying. This is not a pure ratio test in that using a whole work may be fair use in some circumstances, whereas using a tiny fraction of a work not qualify for fair use in other circumstances.

Therefore, the quantity, as well as the quality and importance, of the copied material must be considered. Some Justices have looked to see that "no more was taken than was necessary" to achieve the purpose for which the materials were copied.

Factor 4 -
Effect upon Potential Market

The fourth factor considers the extent of harm to the market or potential market of the original work caused by the infringement. This test takes into account harm to the original, as well as harm to derivative works.

SOURCE: 17 U.S.C. 107 (1988 ed. and Supp. IV).


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