What I would tell Jaki Byard (about copyright law) 1

The late, great Jaki Byard was a musical genius and like ALL artists Jaki created TONS of intellectual property. Undoubtedly he created more original, copyrightable works than he even knew. Like so many artists… when your art just flows… and your groove is strong… it’s easy to overlook ways to protect and monetize your work. (I studied jazz piano with Jaki a few years before I went to law school and became an intellectual property attorney).

What advice would I give Jaki today? I would insist that Jaki copyright his work. Jaki created exquisite handwritten piano exercises and warm-ups …complete with elaborate pencil-drawing covers. They were remarkable in all respects. And if Jaki were still alive today, I would take the F train out to his home in Queens and insist that he copyright and publish these. (Yes, Jaki also had volumes of recordings and other music… I suspect a large portion of these works are copyrighted and still paying royalties).

Is sheet music of warm-up exercises copyrightable? Yes! If they are original, they are copyrightable.

Will people buy them… is another question… however, it only costs $35 to register your work with the US Copyright Office. This is a nominal investment. I would have paid it on Jaki’s behalf in a heartbeat.

(Jaki Byard was a jazz legend and a brilliant teacher. He passed away February 11, 1999 and lives on in his music).

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.



For more info on how to register your work with the US Copyright Office —> http://t.co/ynaHCbX and http://www.copyright.gov and a tribute to Jaki —> http://www.villagevoice.com/1999-03-09/music/jaki-byard-1922-1999/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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