The Flash Mobs would be performing in retail stores to promote an educational campaign. No point of sale included. Just educational and informative.
The lack of selling is irrelevant. Use of the music, without permission, is copyright infringement. See Intellectual Property counsel.
My comments have been made without discussion. An attorney client relationship has not been established. There may be conflicts which prohibit my providing you with specific legal guidance. Any contact with you beyond these few general words will start with a disclosure of opposing parties so that a conflict check can be made. You should discuss with an attorney.
Rewriting lyrics = violation of the author's derivative work right; performing the underlying musical composition (w/o the sound recording) = violation of public performance right. Re; public performance, you can get a license from the rights holder's PRO, but for derivative works, you need a license directly from them to avoid infringing.
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I agree with Attorney Ivey, This would not constitute fair use...to some degree this depends on how extensive your rewrite would be but if after all your adaptation work, t is recognizable as a derivative of the original you will need to obtain the rights to the song or you will be infringing unless the work is already in the public domain which I doubt because it sounds like a song that is currently popular. (i.e. it's not the National Anthem). The profit motive is of no consequence one way or the other.
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You can get some idea of the possible rights holders in the music that you would have to get permission from (or who could tell you who else you need to contact) by looking the song up on the BMI and ASCAP websites. There are a variety of different rights that exist and different people or companies may own those rights. Getting help from an attorney is a really good idea for this since you are looking to get public attention.
Please note: This answer is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice. Such professional advice requires full disclosure to an attorney of a client’s circumstances and that attorney’s opportunity to analyze those circumstances against applicable law.
You are proposing to make derivative work based on someone's copyrighted musical composition. The only way you can do this is by obtaining a license from the owners of the copyright in the musical composition. This most certainly would not constitute fair use----it is irrelevant that your purpose is educational and informative.
If you want to pursue this, your first step (other than retaining IP counsel----you must retain counsel for this), is to identify the owner of the copyright in the musical composition. This may not be easy---it could be an individual, a company, or a music publisher (or a combination of all of the above). Once you identify the copyright owner, your attorney would need to attempt to negotiate permission to make a derivative work---and you would probably have to pay up front fees and royalties to do this. Further, the copyright owner will probably want to pre-approve your derivative work--they won't want you to create alternative lyrics that might tarnish their reputation or the value of the original musical composition. It is quite possible---perhaps even likely, that the owners of the musical composition will refuse to grant you permission to use it. If permission is granted, you will need legal counsel to draft the appropriate license agreement---this is not a simple form easily procured from the internet---it is a complex document that must be drafted by experienced legal counsel.
I am not your lawyer and this is not intended to be legal advice on which you rely. My answer is merely intended to assist you in understanding some of the issues that you face so that you can make an intelligent choice when you hire legal counsel.
You will need a license to the composition, since you propose a derivative of the composition. 17 USC 106(2). This is not fair use.
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