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I got this in my inbox today due to my use of their services. No doubt this is an attempt to do some major PR control. I'm not sure what specifically made them want to send this out though. Maybe issues related to DCI, WGI, and MFA?

"Dear ####

I would like to take this opportunity to re-introduce Tresóna: who we are, what we do, and why we do it.

Tresóna was started, and is currently staffed, by musicians, educators and music fans. We have created a simple and cost-effective licensing platform and are committed to protecting the rights of songwriters to make sure that they are rightfully compensated for their work.

Thousands of hard-working songwriters and publishers are dependent on the royalties collected from the licensing of their music to survive. A vast majority of these publishers are small family businesses with one or two employees; they are not multi-national corporations. They are no different than the arrangers, choreographers, set designers, costume creators and thousands of others whose livelihood is dependent on a vibrant music industry.

Music is the key ingredient and the foundation of all performance ensembles. Without songs, there would be no marching bands, show choirs, a cappella groups or any other musical performance group. The licensing of custom arrangements, which is required by the U.S. Copyright Act, is often one of the smallest line items in the budget of many ensemble programs.

Most performance ensembles obtain the necessary licenses; however, there are some ensembles and organizations which refuse to do so. The abuse of the system by these groups for illicit financial gain has been shocking. There are large enterprises with ensembles that travel all over the country performing at both nonprofit and for-profit events. They pay enormous sums of money for choreographers, arrangers, contest entry, lighting, costumes, props and a host of other outside services. Despite having budgets of more than $500,000/year and generating surpluses of over $150,000/year, these organizations refuse to get the licenses they need and compensate songwriters for their songs.

Rather than pay the relatively small licensing fee and promote proper licensing behavior, some ensembles have opted instead to retain high-priced lawyers and consultants to avoid obtaining the necessary licenses. When the dedication of this small group of ensembles deprives songwriters of their ability to make a living, Tresóna and the rights holders we represent are forced to defend these rights in court.

When this happens, it is disappointing and begs the question: How can the community as a whole promote participation in the arts and suggest to students that a career in music is viable if it doesnt support the foundation of the entire music ecosystem - the songs and the songwriters?

Tresóna is proud of the work we do and deeply value the excellent working relationships we have developed with thousands of arrangers, directors, music educators, parents and performers around the country. We are committed to partnering with, and listening to, the ensemble community so that we may grow these relationships, as well as nurture new ones.

We thank you for your support and look forward to our continued relationship in the years to come.

Best,

Larry Mills

EVP, Tresóna"

.....

End of letter

I absolutely understand the need for composers/arrangers/creators to be compensated. I also understand that there are groups (both scholastic and independent) that have extremely bloated design budgets. But in my opinion, this copyright situation is getting a bit out of hand, at least in regards to video performances. We are losing an opportunity to share with our younger generations the great performances organizations like DCI, WGI, and MFA have to offer.

Our kids (and educators) are missing the ability to see their peers across the country achieve things that they didn't know were possible. I can't even purchase older BOA and WGI DVDs for our library anymore.

What are your thoughts about what Tresona is saying?

Edited by The Observer
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In what capacity did you get this letter? Do you run a performing arts organization?

After you get a bunch of answers here, I suggest you pick the ideas you like and write Tresona back. See if they respond.

How much does Tresona think organizations should be paying for music? Since they specifically mention organizations with annual budgets of $500,000 or more as those that ought to have no problem paying these costs, does that mean that smaller organizations should expect to find Tresona's music too expensive?

And I think they either need to name names or shut up. Who didn't secure performance rights? Why not list all the organizations who did and didn't get rights in 2015?

What about the synchronization rights? Why could DCI afford to produce video of more than the top twelve, and DCA and BoA afford to produce at all, in past years, but not in 2015? What changed? Were DCI, DCA, and BoA not paying for those rights? Or did Tresona decide that the amounts that were due needed to be much higher?

How much money are Tresona's artists losing from the videos that aren't being produced?

How much money does Tresona get for licenses to works whose creators have been dead for 50 years or more? Do they agree that the changes in the copyright law that much this possible fly in the face of the original meaning of the Constitution?

I'm also curious to know what DCI thinks about this letter. Are they one of the companies that hired expensive lawyers to contest Tresona's claims? Does Tresona think they were wrong to stand up for their own rights?

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Yes, I am a band director. My arrangers secure licensing through them for tunes we use.

If you have anything you want to say, below is their contact info, if you are interested. This was at the end of the email.

"Feel free to contact us at communications@tresonamultimedia.com with any questions or comments."

I know we all have strong feelings here for both sides of the argument. Imho though, from a business side of things, publishers just don't get it. Educational entities are typically not making a profit from the use of this music. If anything, it is the music industry that is losing out because of this.

The major publishers need to hire educators as consultants to come up with a better strategy for working with scholastic and independent, non-profits. DCI and BOA (or any other marching circuit) actually help promote music. How many of us remember hearing an awesome arrangement of song that we were not familiar with and actually investing time and money to finding the original or other songs related to it? Marching ensembles can act as marketing tools to get people exposed to more music, which can post sales. But I'm just a teacher, not a business man.

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Yeah, I got that letter too. Tempted to respond especially to this part:

"When the dedication of this small group of ensembles deprives songwriters of their ability to make a living"

With something along the lines of: "So does that mean you will waive fees to arrange and perform Hindemith's Mathis der Maler? I mean, he hasn't been making a "living" in over 50 years.

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If you have anything you want to say, below is their contact info, if you are interested. This was at the end of the email.

"Feel free to contact us at communications@tresonamultimedia.com with any questions or comments."

Thanks. I might just do that.

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Something about the following quote from the letter just doesn't make sense to me.

Rather than pay the relatively small licensing fee and promote proper licensing behavior, some ensembles have opted instead to retain high-priced lawyers and consultants to avoid obtaining the necessary licenses.

1. Just how much is "the relatively small licensing fee"?

2. Why would ensembles consider "high-priced lawyers and consultants" cost effective if the licensing fees are relatively small?

I really don't think people would choose to pay high costs to avoid paying low costs.

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Yeah, I got that letter too. Tempted to respond especially to this part:

"When the dedication of this small group of ensembles deprives songwriters of their ability to make a living"

With something along the lines of: "So does that mean you will waive fees to arrange and perform Hindemith's Mathis der Maler? I mean, he hasn't been making a "living" in over 50 years.

If you send that response, Tresona might refer you to their "Dead White Guys" division for assistance. :tongue:

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If you send that response, Tresona might refer you to their "Dead White Guys" division for assistance. :tongue:

It'll be easy to find. Look for the portrait of Mickey Mouse outside that division's suite.

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Something about the following quote from the letter just doesn't make sense to me.

1. Just how much is "the relatively small licensing fee"?

2. Why would ensembles consider "high-priced lawyers and consultants" cost effective if the licensing fees are relatively small?

I really don't think people would choose to pay high costs to avoid paying low costs.

Bingo. Without realizing it, this letter confirms that groups that retain counsel can thereby avoid some or all of the fees. Which is amazing, because if Tresona is in the right, and if they also have attorneys (in fact, they are attorneys) then Tresona should and would prevail. Thus this letter implies that Tresona is in the wrong.

(I am a drum corps fan, not an attorney or even a music teacher.)

But think of the 30,000 school districts in the USA: how many schools is that? How many bands? How many songs per concert? All those teachers without lawyers. A feast for Tresona and their ilk.

According to this article, Tresona threatened a choir teacher with draconian punishments:

...

[superintendent] Meadows said he knew copyright problems forced the cancellation of the show. But delving into Ellis’ emails, he learned of past infractions that could have opened the school up to lawsuits.
In one email, Ellis asked a music industry executive what would be the fine for performing a song without being granted permission.
Mark Greenburg of Tresona Multimedia responded on Sept. 14 that the fine would be $150,000. On top of that, arranging and disseminating music without permission is a felony. “It’s an insane risk. It will wreck your life. The felony tag will stick with you the rest of your life,” the email read.

Presumably it's $150,000 maximum compensatory damages or some such, and the copyright holders would have to show they were damaged that much by a school choir concert. Seriously? And a felony? Can anyone point to a case of a non-profit music teacher being convicted of felony copyright violation for putting on a school concert without obtaining rights? Criminal convictions are pretty much limited to people like Kim DotCom, I thought. In fact, has any non-profit teacher been found guilty of copyright violation for play/arrange/performing a concert? School budgets and legal matters are public record. The press would be all over that. The law seems to give teachers wide latitude to teach music and hold concerts without buying rights.

This alleged exposure of the school to risk was one of the reasons Mr. Ellis got fired. (Not the only reason).

I don't know who arranged Mr. Ellis's tunes, but if he did his own arrangements, would any money be actually owed to the copyright holders? Title 17, Section 110 (and the articles I've read describing it) would seem to indicate that he would not.

Teachers who hire services like Tresona to tell them what they owe are likely to pay for things they don't have to. In addition, I think many things are not clearly decided by the courts, allowing Tresona to interpret the law toward their own interest and present it as presumed fact. For example, Observer, you seem to hire outside arrangers. That's a case that may not have been decided yet by the courts. The court might feel that hiring a private arranger doesn't change anything because the teachers also personally profit from their jobs anyway; it's whether the purpose of the arrangement is educational that counts (but who knows? Has it ever been decided). But until it's decided companies like Tresona would presume in their interest that it's a for-profit use. But then, a single court case could destroy much of their business model, so they might drop all cases where teachers hire lawyers. That would be consistent with this letter from Tresona.

Anyway, thank you Tresona for informing teachers that they can avoid your fees by hiring an attorney. That's a big help.

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I received this letter too and have used Tresona for the past few years for licensing (arranging fees for Marching Band)

I have concerns about this statement in the letter:

"The licensing of custom arrangements, which is required by the U.S. Copyright Act, is often one of the smallest line items in the budget of many ensemble programs."

I would hardly call paying close to $2000 a season in arranging licensing fees one of the smallest line items in my budget. But, that may be just my school. Maybe other schools have more money in their budget. But, to make that blanket statement ("many ensemble programs") is naive and frankly incorrect in my opinion.

Edited by leed17

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