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Thread: Musicals and copyrights

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2017

    Musicals and copyrights

    I have been thinking of doing a musical, with no experience except watching them. My idea is along the lines of the hit play Hamilton, a historical musical with gangster rapping.
    I don't know anything about copyright law and want to know if I can reword popular rap songs and keep the music, having permission to do so if needed, or have to create entirely original songs?

  2. #2
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    On the Server
    Write your own lyrics. Collaborate with a composer when the time comes.

    Music intellectual property and licensing is particularly contentious, complicated and expensive.

    Even if you win, you lose because of the complications in licensing rights (often from more than one group like ASCAP and individual artists and rights holders) and the cost, which is prohibitive.

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    What AW Admin said -- if you have permission to use the music, you can, but be very clear on whose permissions you need and the limits of those permissions. There's often more than one person with rights to something musical, like a rap song -- composer, lyricist, potentially label, etc. Also, there's 'you can use it to write a thing,' and 'you can use it in a commercial venture,' which are two very different things and the latter can get very, very specific. You're much better off starting from scratch.

    Also also, there are usually several people involved in writing a musical, as mostly book and lyrics and music are split. You can do both book and lyrics, it's not like no one has, but I'd suggest some research before you dive in.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Ok that's what I was thinking, thanks for the clarification everyone.


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