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Forum & Copyright (Guidelines)

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Pete Thomas

Pete Thomas

Well-Known Member
Commercial Supporter
St. Mary's
This post is in place to explain what we allow or disallow, and the reasons. These are not strict rules of the cafe, but guidelines on how to interpret the rules which you can read here.

These guidelines may change from time to time as we learn more about the legal implications or new precedents are set.

Please feel free to comment.

I hasten to add that any the rules we have in regard to Intellectual property do not mean we necessarily agree those laws and our job is not to be copyright police. The rules and the action we take are for the legal protection of Cafesaxophone. In some cases there are grey areas, and in those cases although we may initially allow the content, if instructed by a rights holder or their legal representative we would remove the content.


Copyright has a life, and once that is over the work is in the public domain. However this is not completely straightforward as a recording has two copyrights: (1) Copyright in the composition (2) Copyright in the recording.

e.g. Oh When the Saints (melody & words) may be in the public domain but a recording of it may not be.


Youtube is an exception to some of the guidelines below. You may embed or link to Youtube videos of copyright works, as Youtube seems to have agreements in place that either pay royalties or overlay advertising on behalf of any rights holder.


A link to a file implies a download, so linking directly to a file implies distribution (file sharing)

Do not link directly to files that infringe a copyright. This includes audio, video, printed words & sheet music.

Linking to a page that may contain some copyright infringements is a grey area. If in doubt, don't do it.

Audio & Video

Apart from the Youtube exception above, you are not allowed to link to or upload any audio or video which infringes a copyright, either in the composition or the recording.

Backing Tracks

Raw backings (no recorded lead instrument)

You may link to and distribute your own backing tracks (e.g. generated by BIAB or iRealbook) There is no copyright in a chord sequence but in some cases a backing may contain a significant and recognisable riff which may be copyright.

However you may not link to and distribute backing tracks that are copyright published recordings (such as Aebersold, Hal Leonard, Alfred Mastertracks)

Your recordings on top of backing tracks

If people link to their own use of Aebersold on Youtube, then we generally don't worry. See above (Youtube)

Sheet Music

If people embed or link to published sheet music with the melody line then this is not allowed. If it is their own arrangement of public domain that is OK, but if it's a published sheet music of a PD tune, then this is the greay area as the published arrangement may be in coyright even though the tune isn't.

Generally people who participate in playing to backing tracks should really own their own copies of the real Book or fake books. It kind of goes with the territory of learning to improvise. Then its purely their lookout that what they have is legal or not.


The same rules apply to image copyright infringement, but as the internet has so many precedents of uploading or linking to images that may have copyrights, we will be more discretionary when dealing with this, and context will be taken into account.

The context could be based on quantity, relevance, dimensions or anything else at our discretion.

Fair Use & Educational

These are very specific legal terms and are often incorrectly used to justify the distribution of copyright material. They do not apply to the forum or to Youtube.

Educational use is restricted to classrooms in educational establishment. Fair Use applies to a very small extract used to illustrate a point in a news article etc.

Part 2 - more guidelines and update​

I have been doing some research and the law is not clear, seems to change and is different in different territories.

Our main concern is not with being awkward and stopping the fun but with protecting the forum, especially in the light of new EU laws around illegal content (don't get me started on Brexit please)

Times have changed and instead of just take down notices, sites, or rather site owners can just get hit with huge fines.

From what I can tell your typical meme (ie some photo with a caption plastered all over) is generally OK because it is classed as parody. There was a lot of concern when the new law came out last year, but actually seems like it has been clarified a bit.

BUT what is confusing for people is that this does not cover cartoons that have a copyright, and it doesn't cover protected photographic images that have not been turned into memes. Companies such as Getty images can find, identify and take legal action very easily.

We have noticed instances where people post a cartoon, and assume it's OK because it's all over facebook. This is often not the case, we investigated one such cartoon and found the artists copyright terms which actually granted use on facebook but nowhere else.

Screenshot 2020 06 13 at 143653
Another thing that muddies the waters is that it's possible that it is legal to hotlink to an image (ie just embed it via the URL).]

[EDIT: that is about to change it seems so please do not hot link copyright images.

However this is more complicated. In order to not have mixed content (e.g. from unsecure sites) we have a system called Image and Link proxy which I believe effectively uploads the embed image here. legally, I would not like to say whether this means we are OK or not and so to be on the safe side we must assume it doesn't just count as a link.

So what this means in practice is that probably I should think a bit more, rewrite the rules and guidelines. In the past we have had some threads that were dedicated to cartoons, jokes, memes etc.

My gut feeling is we should avoid such threads because sooner or later something with a copyright will get uploaded, but if you find a meme particularly appropriate in a one-off post then that should be OK. Images and cartoons are often OK if you are sure they don't infringe a copyright. It's not always easy to know but Google images does have a filter you can use to show only those images.

Meanwhile, if we are in doubt we may remove things that we consider could be a problem - please don't feel offended or upset if we do that, it just means we are being cautious because it is us who will be in trouble and are responsible. OTOH please don't post anything with obvious copyright notice or watermark as that is an obvious and direct infringement that you should have been aware of and it would be viewed as intentional breaking of our rules (and the law!)

Meanwhile I will try to find out about the hotlinking/proxy issue - many sites don't mind the hotlinking as it can be helpful. The main issue is going to be stuff like Getty images etc.

And before anyone says "fair use" that is not an automatic right, it is often only useable as a defence, that may or may not stand up in court.

Any questions we have an ongoing copyright queries thread:

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