8 Replies
      Latest reply on Jul 15, 2018 7:48 PM by john daniel
      VideoHawk1 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

             Hello. I am a music teacher and have a very unique approach to teaching piano and would LOVE to create an app that would allow me to teach students how to play PUBLISHED songs that they love, but don't want to break any copyright laws and/or risk exorbitant fines and/or get in trouble with Apple.

         

             I spoke with an intellectual property attorney who told me that if any music publisher finds out about someone using their music without prior authorization they risk thousands of dollars in fines PER USE!! SERIOUSLY, and according to him, they're more relentless than the IRS in collecting!!

         

             I've read through the entire Apple Developer Program License Agreement and both sections 3.2 Use of the Apple Software and Apple Services and Content and Materials: 3.3.18 make it very clear that developers cannot use copyrighted material in their apps in any way without permission, yet I've noticed a slew of current music teaching apps that apparently are "in violation" of this agreement, exposing not just themselves but every customer who illegally purchased their app or subscriptions.

         

             Currently, most of the existing music teaching app developers, i.e. "learn to play (piano, guitar, etc.)" offer a premium monthly subscription allowing users to access the EQUIVALENT of sheet music, as well as an AUDIO RECORDING of copyrighted music, and receive either "live" video/audio teaching tutorials of a real teacher or through an animated keyboard interface or guitar interface which demonstrates which keys or strings (labeled by letter) to play each published song in real time. So what is going on? Who is granting permission to use copyrighted songs?

         

        As I see it, there are three possible scenarios as to why Apple is allowing developers to use these apps and monetize them thru iTunes:

        1. Apple is either unaware or doesn't care about these illegal app developers
        2. The current Multi-Music Publisher Licensing Deal that allows Apple to charge its monthly iTunes subscribers $9.95 a month to access its music library ALSO extends to third party app creators, such as those currently selling their apps and Apple is granting a licensing WAIVER which would allow third party app developers to legally do so.
        3. *Current music teaching app developers negotiated deals with either music publishers and/or multiple artists. MY LAWYER TOLD ME THAT THIS IS EXTREMELY UNLIKELY AS MOST MUSIC PUBLISHERS AND ARTISTS ONLY DEAL WITH MAJOR CORPORATIONS, NOT SMALL PLAYERS. PLUS, NORMAL LICENSING FEES WOULD INCLUDE SYNCRONIZATION FEES BECAUSE THOSE SONGS ARE BEING BRODCAST VIA VIDEO OVER THE INTERNET. WE ARE TALKING ROUGHLY $4-500 PER SONG! THERE IS NO WAY THAT APP DEVELOPERS ARE PAYING THIS BECAUSE IF THEY OFFER 50 OR MORE SONGS IN THEIR APP, THAT WOULD BE $25,000 AND TAKE YEARS JUST FOR THEM TO BREAK EVEN!!

         

        COULD SOMEONE PLEASE CLARIFY WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? I HAVE REPEATEDLY EMAILED APPLE'S LEGAL DEPARTMENT AS WELL AS THE APP DEVELOPMENT TEAM AND HEARD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!!

         

        THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR HELP!

        • Re: Illegal music teaching apps?
          john daniel Level 3 Level 3 (400 points)

          Hello VideoHawk1,

          Your list is incomplete. My guess is that Apple has the official policies in place to shield themselves. They don't allow explicit violation of copyright and would reject any apps that obviously employs that. But as you mentioned, these are "equivalents" and private recordings. They may be in a little educational grey area. There are no public performances, which is a biggie. There is nobody making much money, which is another attention-getter. Many of these app developers are all over the world. Since it costs only $99 to open a developer account, and all the apps are templated, it would be a waste of time to go after them.

           

          Unfortunately, if you are not in one of "those countries", you are aware of music IP issues, you've talked to an IP attorney, you may have put yourself into a different, higher-profile category. You simply don't have the same degree of legal free rein that the tens of thousands of developers with a fake names have. If you are willing to be a lawbreaker, then, by definition, the law doesn't apply to you. ***** to be an honest dev, eh?

            • Re: Illegal music teaching apps?
              VideoHawk1 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

              Hi John. Thanks for your response. On the internet, there are no "private" recordings. Just go on YouTube and you can watch thousands of "private" recordings that someone has made public. Even if I offered encrypted streaming videos, all it takes is ONE customer to decrypt them and upload them to YouTube... You might as well lay a red carpet out to the music publishing attornies!

               

              Regarding being an "honest" developer. Let me put it to you this way.... Most of the app developers who've spent serious money and time in developing their interfaces, marketing strategies and customer images have built a business following the "house of cards" model. Why would anyone risk losing all that time, money and investment  in creating a business that's meant to last for years? I don't plan on doing so. If I can't find a legal way, I'll offer a different service. Peace

               

              By the way... I'm still waiting to hear from the rest of the app developers out there... Can SOMEONE please clarify Apple's music publishing policy?

               

              Thank You!!

               

               

                • Re: Illegal music teaching apps?
                  KMT Level 9 Level 9 (14,655 points)

                  Regardless of 'publishing' policy in question, none of them call for participants to police anyone but themselves.

                    • Re: Illegal music teaching apps?
                      VideoHawk1 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                           That might be true, but using a driving analogy, wouldn't you want clarification if you were going to receive a summons for being in an intersection when the light was just turning red? Some places recognize that drivers are legally allowed to do this, especially in heavy traffic or to avoid other vehicles. Other places give you a summons no matter what. All I'm saying, is, "yes" developers are responsible for policing their own apps, but as I wrote before, if your business model is to "get rich quick", than you probably don't care about Apple's policies. On the other hand, if you want to create a serious, long-term business, where your customers can trust you and your content, and your success is built on quality and customer loyalty, then it is absolutely in Apple's best interest to service the app developer community by providing CLARITY here.

                        • Re: Illegal music teaching apps?
                          KMT Level 9 Level 9 (14,655 points)

                               >it is absolutely in Apple's best interest to service the app developer community

                           

                          Ah - I'd suggest to lower your expectations in that regard.

                           

                          Otherwise, feel free to file an enhancement request via the bug reporter link below, adding your report # to your thread for reference, thanks and good luck.    

                      • Re: Illegal music teaching apps?
                        john daniel Level 3 Level 3 (400 points)

                        All I was doing was referencing your original post. You specifically said '"live" video/audio teaching tutorials of a real teacher'. I don't know what that entails. But if someone posts your video on YouTube, you can have that video removed because it is your property. I can't comment on any material that might be portrayed in your video and what the legal implications of that might be. If you have the right to convey the material in that video, then you don't have to worry about someone posting the video on YouTube. You can have said video removed. A copyright violation of your video would not put you in violation of any rights you legally exercised when making and distributing the video via your own, authorized channels. All you have to do is make a good faith effort to remove any such copyright violations when they occur.

                         

                        I can't comment on the actions of other developers. Clearly, there are many developers in many places who are about to push out a tremendous amount of content in little or no time. Maybe it is because they have an army of people in an impoverished country that work cheap. Maybe it is because they have templated apps. Maybe it is because they just copied other apps. I don't know. Regardless, the only thing you have to worry about are the software and services that you can develop, manage, and support. In many cases, that means that you have to pick your battles. Just because other people are doing it, and getting away with it, doesn't mean you can do either.

                         

                        Apple's policies are pretty clear. Don't use any content that you don't have rights to use. Furthermore, you may be asked to prove you have such rights. Yes, there are 100,000 apps in the App Store that don't do that are are blatantly illegal by any concept. So? People commit crimes all the time. Just people other people get away with something doesn't mean it is a viable business model for you.

                         

                        Finally, it is not the responsiblity of developers to police their own apps, at least not in the sense that you are talking about. It is the responsibility of copyright holders to police their intellectual material. If they fail to do that, they may lose those rights. With respect to software developers, the only thing they have to "police" is their own apps. Apple only enforces copyrights of 3rd parties in response to specific copyright claims and as part of a good faith effort to act in accordance with the law. Apple makes no attempt and does not succeed in 100% coverage of all copyright issues between developers and 3rd parties. But if a legal property holder complains to Apple, then Apple will take action. If a developer tries to public an obvious copyright violation, then Apple will stop that too. There are many ways to get past Apple's review. That doesn't mean you should attempt to do so. But that doesn't mean many other people haven't succeeded at it.

                         

                        Life's not fair. You may do everything correctly, get all the right permissions, spend a lot of money, and Apple will still reject you. After many months of fighting, you'll finally get your app published. Next month, there will be 4 copycat apps just like yours. At least one of them will likely be your app, just hacked up to run under some other developer's account. Welcome to the App Store. Enjoy.

                          • Re: Illegal music teaching apps?
                            VideoHawk1 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

                            I feel your passion. You speak from the developer's point of view, I speak from a teacher's point of view. To that point, I don't care how many people have my interface.... Its not about interfaces.... Its always about people. Yes, there are a plethora of "interface-driven" apps. Mine will not be one of them. Ten music teachers could have the exact same interface, but I can guarantee, its always going to be about personality. There are apps without human teachers... I'm never going to create one of those "robot" apps.

                             

                            My interface is "my face", get it? All I want to do is satisfy the high demand of students trying to learn how to play piano with POPULAR published songs by videotaping, not live streaming, my own unique tutorials using published music, if that's okay. If its not, I will follow a different path.
                            Peace.

                              • Re: Illegal music teaching apps?
                                john daniel Level 3 Level 3 (400 points)

                                No one here can answer that question for you. You will have to consult with your attorney regarding the details of public vs. private performance and anything else related to music IP that I'm clueless about. You don't have to worry about people reposting your content as long as you make a good faith effort to look for it and have it removed.

                                 

                                That being said, even if you and your lawyers agree on a legal solution, Apple may have a different opinion. Apple is not going to give you any kind of legal pre-clearance. You will have to develop all the content and the app and hope it gets approved. That's the way the store works.