By the book? New Scots Guards Collection raises copyright questions
The new Scots Guards Standard Settings of Pipe Music, Volume III, printed by Nuvello Publishing Ltd. of London, a large and well established publisher of music from many genres, might not have done things entirely by the book when it comes to gaining agreements from the many composers whose works populate the collection, raising important questions about copyright.
More than half of the 303 compositions in Scots Guards III are authored by pipers who are either living or not yet 70 years dead, the length of time before a musical work becomes public domain in the United Kingdom.
The new collection is a virtual greatest hits of light music from the last 30 years, including compositions such as Neil Dickie’s “The Haunting,” Robert Mathieson’s “Ragtime Pipers,” and “Michael Grey” by Bill Livingstone – tunes that have been published already in their author’s own collections.
One of the most played tunes to emerge in the last 10 years, James MacHattie’s 4/4 march “At Long Last,” is an example of a composition in Scots Guards III being published in print for the first time.
According to many of the composers, consent was not asked for or given to having their works in the $75 collection, much less agree to any terms, as is legally required.
When asked about the situation, retired Scots Guards Pipe-Major James Banks, who helped to compile the collection over the last 15 years, said, “I have had no complaints to speak of and have at the moment no comment.”
For their part, Novello Publishing’s Naomi Gibb, who is listed as the editor of the collection, appeared to pass the buck on the status of agreements from rights-holders, saying, “We only hold print rights for this publication, so I will forward your email to our contact in the Scots Guards.”
Print rights to music were once an important source of revenue for composers, but . . .