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PT session files as intellectual property
Old 8th November 2002
  #1
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bjornson's Avatar
 

PT session files as intellectual property

In the old days when i would turn in a master i would retain all my mix notes and recall info. Now i'm asked to turn in mixes, audio data and Session files for the project, making it easy for someone to "improve" my work. I typically use a lot of analog processing with PT so the mix isn't exact, but sometimes it makes me a little nervous that my hard work could be changed without my permission.
Am i paranoid?
Old 8th November 2002
  #2
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cajonezzz's Avatar
 

You may want to search the DUC on this subject. It was kicked around pretty hard 6 months ago or so.

Not sure where I stand on this but probably lean towards giving the whole shooting match up.....good faith and good work have always reaped returns.
Old 8th November 2002
  #3
pan
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This should be covered in your contract, by law, every reproductionable soundmaterial you use and produce in a paid session is property of the paying producer. If you are involved with points, be glad to hand over great material for success of the project.
You get, what you give.
If I had Charles mix something for me, I'd definitely wanted the session files as well...to be dissapointed, that none of them would open on my Mix+....go figure!
Old 9th November 2002
  #4
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Charles Dye's Avatar
 

I was a little worried about it for awhile, but I'm with cajonezzz. I turn in the whole session. The day someone takes advantage of me, I'll reconsider.
Old 9th November 2002
  #5
I'm for handing it over, anything else I find stingy or 'mean'.

Jules
Old 9th November 2002
  #6
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. That having been stated...

Intellectual property? I dunno...there is a whole field of intellectual property law, and I doubt seriously that Pro Tools session files are even mentioned in that canon.

In the most strictly technically legal sense, there are two distinctions in our craft:
1) Sound recording, and
2) the song itself.

Sound recording: that's the finished and published work of recording art. Somebody has to own that, and it's usually designated in writing, in contractual form. If not, the owner of the recording defaults to the person who recorded it, and owns the master recording.

The song: that's the lyric and it's melody. Whoever composed the lyric and the melody of a song owns that song, unless specified otherwise in contractual form.

Quote:
bjornson posted:
Now i'm asked to turn in mixes, audio data and Session files for the project, making it easy for someone to "improve" my work...sometimes it makes me a little nervous that my hard work could be changed without my permission.
If you own the original recording of that session, anyone can make all the changes they want, but that does not automatically defer to them partial ownership of your recording. On the contrary: they would still need your permission to sell duplications of that work, and would owe you any mechanical profits they got from it.

By the same token, if someone re-worded one of your songs, that does not defer to them any ownership of that song.

I don't see the issue here.
Old 9th November 2002
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Curve Dominant

I don't see the issue here.
This can be such a dark subject that can really mar the creative (and fun) aspects of what we do. I think the issue here may be PT's inherent characteristic of a mix always being in progress ... and what can be done to minimize situations where a mix is done, a few small changes are made after the fact(say, adding a guitar OD or bumping the bass a bit etc) and the last person to touch it suddenly has exclusive credit (and compensation) for mixing it.

Given the generally more informal atmosphere of the current home recording proliferation, it's a valid concern for those who don't have an explicit mix contract in place before sitting down behind the console ..... these can be tough situations that requires a lot of thought and diplomacy ...

Now ... back to making music heh
Old 9th November 2002
  #8
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blackcatdigi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Richard Chycki

...a mix is done, a few small changes are made after the fact [snip] and the last person to touch it suddenly has exclusive credit (and compensation) for mixing it.
This happens a LOT in the rap/r&b world. Along with ripping off people's 'beats' or 'preproductions'...

I've done mixes that were subsequently 'remixed' (or not, but claimed to be) and given NO CREDIT for the original mixing... But, I DID get paid for my work. And I'm not even going to touch the issue of spec deals...

This is a rather sticky issue.
Old 9th November 2002
  #9
Anyhow the way I set up mxes is so tecnically involved and interwoven with outboard gear and different sample rates, plug ins and so forth that any re working would be a major undertaking, not a 'subtle tweak'....

Jules

Jules
Old 9th November 2002
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
Anyhow the way I set up mxes is so tecnically involved and interwoven with outboard gear and different sample rates, plug ins and so forth that any re working would be a major undertaking, not a 'subtle tweak'....
Complexity is irrelevant when mixing exclusively in the box ... I should have been more explicit as I was directing my comments to those situations ...
Old 10th November 2002
  #11
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Chae Ham's Avatar
 

Unhappy

About a year ago I got the chance to work with two pretty well known pop acts... For the purposes of this discussion we'll just call them "Red" and "My-uhhh..."

Well Red wanted to give a song to My-uhhh because red didn't feel it would have a place on her record, it was a slow-tempoed R&B flavored kind of song. So we're in the studio remixing the master and rerecording it with My-uhhh... It was a lot of fun working with them, and they were a lot of fun, but did I get the credit on the CD jacket??? no...
And when I picked up the CD it sounded identical(well minus the mastering) I could still pick out the SAME little flaws that I cringed at after it left the studio.

On a separate occasion My-uhhh booked 12 hours in the studio to write/record her own song from scratch... So we hired the musicians and she's just crankin' it out... It definitely turned into a Heavy Metal song(bit of a left of center move for a pop artist). And well....to tell you the truth, I seriously doubt that will be on her new album... And once again even if it is, I'm sure I'll only be disappointed to see someone else's name next to "Engineer"

Do you think it's time for me to stop handing out the session files?
Old 11th November 2002
  #12
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Since I also use alot of analog outboard while mixing in PT, I'm in the same camp with Jules.. But the situation that Chae Ham describes is exactly what I worry about. I guess i'll continue to deliver whats asked for until I have a problem.
Old 11th November 2002
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

I'm facing this situation right now as producer and mix engineer in a rock project. The leader/songwriter/vocalist in the band played rough mixes to the project's drummer who's father is a music exec overseas. He then offered to take a few of the songs to has father's contacts, have them mixed, and have the entire record mastered for free. I'm pretty sure hearing the roughs rekindled the drummer's flailing interest in the project. He asked that I give my session files to them "as is" so his dad's contacts could tweak my mixes. I have no problem whatsoever with someone else having a go at mixing the record. In fact, I look forward to hearing their approach. However, I'm not going to give my mixes/session files to them. I worked hard and my feeling is that they should mix from scratch and not simply tweak dozens of hours of my labor. I informed the band's principal of this and he didn't seem to mind - he sees this as an opportunity to get work done for free. Also, he can pick and choose which mixes to use in the end so he has nothing to loose. I'm going to provide them with detailed notes and the session files stripped of processing and automation. I just don't feel comfortable any other way.
Old 12th November 2002
  #14
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Chae Ham's Avatar
 

the catch22

At this point there really nothing we can do... If the label demands that we turn in the session files, then we have to, unless you have the luxury of not getting any more business from that label.
I don't try not to give them the session files, but now I ask if they'd rather have a 1/2" and surprisingly(or not) a lot of them prefer it!

As technology becomes more advanced and the learning curve gets steeper, I think intellectual property will become a big issue in the near future.

Maybe someday in the future we'll see an "Audio Engineering Union"

That'll be the day...yuktyy
Old 12th November 2002
  #15
"I'm going to provide them with detailed notes and the session files stripped of processing and automation. I just don't feel comfortable any other way."

I find this odd. If you have got the project to this stage..... why does throwing the set up / rough mix work that you have done - in the trash - make you feel more comfortable?

I DO understand there are a certain percentage of people that feel this way but I have never had their reasoning explained in any sort of satisfactory way. The bottom line always seems to boil down to an ego driven 'principle' that defies logic and cares very little about the future of the project.

So, please enlighten me as to why you would deprive the next engineer the benefit of your time saving rough mixes?

My coments are meant in good spirit BTW.

Old 12th November 2002
  #16
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Quote:
I'm not going to give my mixes/session files to them. I worked hard and my feeling is that they should mix from scratch and not simply tweak dozens of hours of my labor...I'm going to provide them with detailed notes and the session files stripped of processing and automation.
Why don't you just bill them for those dozens of hours of labor?

That way, you can get compensated for your work, without setting back the project in mid-stream. And your work gets published.

And in the process, you establish a reputation as a pro-active engineer.

That's called a "Win-Win" situation.

What you're proposing is a "Lose-Lose" situation: You withdraw your work, get no compensation, and establish a reputation as a stick-in-the-mud, all in one fell swoop. I dunno, man.

I would re-think that scenario.
Old 12th November 2002
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Let me try and explain where I'm coming from and clarify the situation. I will in fact be compensated for my labor as the mix engineer for the project. In turn, the client will get what he has contracted me for (i.e. the mixes - 24/44.1 stereo SD2 files). I'm pretty confident the client will be happy and the work will exceed his expectations. To be clear - I never had any intention of setting the project back or trashing the work put in.

His request (more specifically, the drummers') for the session files is another issue all together. I'd rather give them the sessions as they were after tracking and prior to any of my mix work. The way I look at it is, let's imagine the new mixer takes my sessions post mixing, rides a level here and there, instantiates a new plug-in on an aux track, adjusts an eq, etc., lands the mix on the record and gets the mix credit. I view this as wrong simply because I did most of the mix prior to his/her finishing their version of the mix. And trust me there was quite a bit of work in the mixing of this project.

I know this reasoning risks coming across as egotistical, withholding, counter-productive, etc. but I beg to differ with that analysis. I think what I'm saying is quite reasonable.

In addition, why would a mixer want a PT session fully mixed to "mix"? I say take the session in the condition following the final overdub and mix the record from scratch. I certainly wouldn't want to deal with having to delete automation moves from another mix. I think that adherence to Charles' guidelines for prepping a mixing session for interchange is the right and most professional way to handle this situation.

That's my take.
Old 12th November 2002
  #18
Of course I respect your views, I just find them paranoid, 'restrictive' and can only find 'negatives' in your reasoning.

We could go round and round on this, it's just two oposing opinions..

HOWEVER - I feel a soultion to these shakey issues - could be a LEGAL one.

I contend that if you explained your concerns to a bright lawyer, they (with your help) could perhaps come up with clauses that protect you enough so as to aid removal of your doubts and worries enough so you could hand over the work whole and intact instead of feeling compelled to 'kick over the sandcastle'

It certainly is a modern 'hot potatoe'

Old 12th November 2002
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

Paranoid? You must be one of those people that are constantly following me and listening in on my telephone conversations.

I guess we can agree to disagree on this one. If someone wants a shot at mixing the record then let them "mix the record" PERIOD. THE END.

Incidently, If the client really HAD to have these files to complete the record for some unexplicable (and/or irrational) reason, I would make arrangments to do so.
Old 12th November 2002
  #20
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blackcatdigi's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Your Add Here!
Paranoid? You must be one of those people that are constantly following me and listening in on my telephone conversations.
Now this kind of humour is just uncalled for; ("Honey, can you bring me a paper towel? Yeah, I just spit coffee all over my laptop again."

Quote:
Originally posted by Your Add Here!

I guess we can agree to disagree on this one. If someone wants a shot at mixing the record then let them "mix the record" PERIOD. THE END.
My current work method is non-conducive to this but it has happened before, so...

I'm afraid I have to agree with this. I really don't see why anyone should be allowed to pan the shaker to THE OTHER SIDE, DUDE! ("Why, its brilliant!) and stamp their name on my mix...

(NOT the same) but it kinda reminds me of Vanilla Ice's argument that "Hey, its not the same... We added that note to it." (Regarding 'Ice Ice Baby's sampling of 'Under Pressure'.)

OTOH, I also agree with Jules-- It IS a LEGAL thing. As long as the paperwork is taken care of and the bill is PIF, do whatever the hell you want with the session.
"...That don't confront me none. Long as I have my rent money by next Friday..." (G.T. & the Destroyers?)

Depends... Back and forth. Back and forth...

Jules, I'm gonna need a 'head scratching' icon...
Old 12th November 2002
  #21
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Charles Dye's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by blackcatdigi
Jules, I'm gonna need a 'head scratching' icon...
Now, that was uncalled for; ("Baby, can you bring me another wet nap? I spilled coffee on the keyboard again. I'm gonna have to take all the keys off one more time. (God, how I hate having to put them back on in the right order."))
Old 16th November 2002
  #22
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Jules... I don't think anyone has a problem with the senario you described. I just fear someone taking my work and making "Moron Improvements" i.e. Making it louder,brighter etc, and then assuming mix engineer credit. I had this conversation with Eddie Kramer and he laughed and said "It serves you right for using the industry standard DAW that everybody has. (Maybe i'll just erase the pan data ) Glad I could open a thought provoking thread!
Old 16th November 2002
  #23
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Quote:
Maybe i'll just erase the pan data
Maybe I'll stiff my engineer on his payment, because I'm afraid he'll delete the work I paid him to do.

C'mon guys...

If you want a particular credit on a recording you worked on, get it in writing that you'll be credited as such, if it's all that important to you.

But to pre-emptively stiff a client because you're afraid they will stiff you is unprofessional at best.

As both a writer-member and publisher-member of ASCAP, I can assure you that for sound engineers to get their hands into areas of intellectual property concerning the music they record is considered not only tacky but highly unprofessional.

I don't care what sorts of philosophical arguments anyone might cook up in their defense. There is simply no basis in copyright law or intellectual property law for a sound engineer to lay claim to those rights in any fashion or form.

If someone wants to own intellectual property, they can compose a chord change with an accompanying melody, and register it with the Library Of Congress.

In the meantime, you're paid to do a job, and obligated to hand it off to the next person on the team when you're done your job.

All this talk about witholding files and deleting files makes me feel like I'm on a forum for auto mechanics.
[/rant]
Old 19th November 2002
  #24
Gear Addict
 

I think most of the big mixers actually get paid MORE if you don't use their mix than if you do. It's to protect them from loosing points on the sale of records that they were excluded from.

My experience is more from the other side of things. I have been stiffed on credit for polishing up the mixes of the big boys. The credit will read mixed by YOUR FAVORITE BIG NAME HERE. Many times this is for political reasons at the lable. The last few times I've insisted on credit up front for additional mixing. It seems only fair since many of the changes are pretty profound, and not something that could have been fixed in mastering.

That being said, I always give producers access to the full session file. Some like to tweak a bit on their own. That can be a good thing because it saves me lots of time obesessing over quarter db moves on one or two notes of their performance. I like to be left in on the loop and hear the changes. I find that collaboration is a very powerful tool in the process. All of my mixes are all in the box, so we can exchange sessions. If new audio files come in to play, then those have to be exchanged, too.

I have never really understood that attitude where you as the engineer think you know better than the artist how their art should be communicated. I certainly bring something to the party when I mix, but I try to maintain and support the artist's vision of who they are and what they are trying to project.

Steve
Old 20th November 2002
  #25
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It seems that if you mix TOTALLY in the box (and I mean totally), you're likely to get screwed once in a while with the credits. If you introduce even a minor amount of outboard gear (say, a few compressors), the whole point is moot. Go ahead, hand it over. It'll never recall anywhere near the same without your gear.

Just like in the old days with 2' and SSL's. Even if you provided the SSL automation and all the gear notes, the mix will NEVER recall the same way twice.

I've heard that labels will use the names of "the big five" mixing guys, even if their mixes were tossed, just so the radio programmers will play it. "Hey, so and so mixed it! I'll put it in rotation!" Whatcha gonna do.
Old 20th November 2002
  #26
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cram's Avatar
 

O.K., here's a spanner in the works. I brought this up on another bbs a few months ago.

I had a band bail on me after tracking for a cheaper studio (read, free) where they wanted to mix. The studio used PARIS just as I do. The engineer asked for ALL PARIS files including internal FX settings. Now I have a bunch of personally tweaked FX settings that I have modelled after some favorite settings on PCM81's, fave comps, etc. I have spent hours in some cases getting these just right.

I refused to give him these settings.

Additionally, earlier as a favor for the band I did some mixes off the clock, that were far from rough, in fact I would (with a tweak here and there) consider them close to final.

I refused to give him these as well.

I used the rationale that if I were an analog tracking studio, there would be no record of inserted outboard and console settings other than hardcopy notes and a floppy. Which would be useless, unless his imaginary console and my imaginary console shared the same automation info (highly unlikely) and his outboard was the same as my outboard.

I also asked him a question he was unable to answer. I asked "If you are going to mix this thing according to your sensibilities, wouldn't roughs mixed with MY sensibilities be a hindrance?" He sputtered and blustered, and that was when I KNEW he was looking to USE me. I don't like being used. evileye

He got PARIS files with all tracks labelled correctly, all at the same levels, no FX settings, no automation, no eq, no pans.

That may make me a jerk, but that is what I felt most comfortable doing.

p.s., I heard the disc after he was done mixing it, the mixes sounded like shit.
Old 20th November 2002
  #27
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Tom, you're not a jerk if you weren't getting paid to mix. That's what they got the other guy for, right? You were hired to track and you did that.

As I understand, a mixer doesn't want any automation or FX on the tracks, just audio.

It does seem like someone was trying to screw with you.
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