Goodnight Kiss logoGoodnight Kiss Music (BMI) & Scene Stealer Music (ASCAP)

Nov. 30 - Dec. 28, 2000

Today's Topic: ETHICS: Why Bother?

Business Ethics are pretty much the same as your other life ethics. I'm talking don't steal, don't kill, don't covet. The basics. I'm also talking Napster, plagiarism, and taking credit for what you did not do, so easy to accomplish via the anonymity of the Internet.

I have heard it said that character is who you are in the dark. For a long time, there was a great darkness covering the Internet, in the early days before tracking software was so prevalent. Even now there are elaborate sites set up to cover your tracks.

If I have something, and you take it without my permission, that is stealing. Period.

If you accept something from someone else who has stolen from me, you are aiding and abetting their crime.

If I give you my permission to take it, then by all means, feel free. If I have asked you to credit me, then by all means DO SO.

You will only look better in the long run for having informed sources on your list.

It is easy to gut someone else's work, change a word or phrase here or there, and call it your own. The SAD part is that usually the plagiarist leaves enough of the right information to sound credible, so the parts they change to fit their "point of view," are accepted as also being correct. Very bad dilution to the Information of the Super-Highway.

Whenever you read something stated as fact, check the author's HARD FACT credits. Just because they have been "working as an Independent musician for the last twenty years" does not qualify them as an expert in dealing with the traditional music business, as you may know it. See what music they have written, placed, earned from, or other facts that you want to be relevant in YOUR life. If they cannot create a path for you that YOU seek, then their "expertise" is rather irrelevant.

Co-Writing Ethics: I have been in every situation from a co-writer who counts the actual words and notes to find out percentages of what each wrote, to people willing to share writers' credit if you were in the room making coffee all night. I have also "been told" what I was getting, after the fact (that won't happen again). You and your co-writer must decide what approach you both feel is fair. I now find out UP-FRONT what our "deal" is before I even start to write with them.

NEVER change another writers lyrics without their WRITTEN permission. You think you have a better lyric to "Yesterday?" You will have to get written permission from the original writers before you can legally (or ethically) do that. Occasionally parody songs are done (like the songs Weird Al Yankovitch records). These are the exception, and Al pays mechanical royalties to the writers for these uses. Check with a music attorney if you are serious about earning from someone else's work.

There is a peace and a self respect that is earned and enjoyed beyond what I can relay here when one chooses to apply ethics to life. It just takes a lot of years of honest practice to make one convinced of that.

File Swapping Ethics: No permission from the creator or copyright owner? You are stealing. PERIOD.

"Borrowing an Article"Ethics: If you are one who struggles with the UNAUTHORIZED using of an article that you feel tempted to "re-word" for your Newsletter (perhaps after seeing something in another's ezine article or at a related site), please know that your doubts are coming from your "fear zone."

You want to be thought of as informed. You fear your own lack of knowledge so deeply, you take others' work and pretend it was your idea and research and opinion.

STOP IT. You are better than that.

Look at who you are, what you do well, what you do know about. For God's sake, if you don't know ANYthing, then study something intensely until you do. Look at what you can HONESTLY offer. Use that strength and then TRADE your knowledge for another's, each getting credit.

Look at who you are, who you WANT to be, and then bridge the gap by doing the honest work. You can't FAKE being an "expert" about things you don't know. You will only end up looking like a fraud.

I also believe honesty begets honesty. Your immediate peer group value system rises, and so that behavior extends.

Make your own reality, ethically. It's a lot more satisfying life.

Just my opinion, of course.

Janet Fisher
Goodnight Kiss Music (BMI)
Scene Stealer Music (ASCAP)

Don't forget the CONTEST!




(C) 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Janet Fisher, Goodnight Kiss Music, no reprints without permission, all rights reserved world wide.