[Harp-L] Re: Mr Shoji and his jam trax

David responded to my critical posting about the ethics of "Mr Shoji" selling versions of other people's tunes with easily recognizable but altered titles:

I agree with you in principal, but I may have misrepresented Mr.
Shoji's offerings. It was only my assumption that the reason he
retitled the songs was to avoid copyright restrictions. He may very
well be paying royalties to the heirs of the songwriters, I don't

I very much doubt it, otherwise why retitle them? There's usually only one reason for that.

A big difference in what you describe happening with the
unauthorized distribution of your tracks and these is that these are
different performances than the originals, played by Mr. Shoji
himself, somewhat like karaoke tracks.

True, but a cover is by definition a new version of an existing title and not a new piece of music. You can register an arrangement but have no rights to the composition in such cases. Changing the name is an easy way of stealing it and common practice, both in the blues and elsewhere.

And I haven't listened to his
tracks side by side with the original recordings so I don't know how
close he is hewing to those. He does request on his site that his
tracks are for individual use only, not to be copied or distributed.

Steve: That's so that he gets the money, not out of any concern for the actual composers, I fear.

Steve Baker

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