Without Love, Without Royalties: A Story of Copyright Infringement

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Without Love, Without Royalties: A Story of Copyright Infringement

3 Jul 2007

CLICK HERE to read the article published in MUSIC NEWS NASHVILLE by Joseph P. Weller.
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How many songs do you know that have been recorded on more than 150 different CDs, released in numerous books, and performed all over the world including at some of the world’s largest churches and universities? How many songs do you know that have been recorded in every genre including: classical, CCM, jazz, rap, country, hip hop, pop, chamber, instrumental, opera, etc…? How many songs do you know that are being sold in every imaginable musical format including: CD, print, DVD, ring tones, e-greeting cards, digital downloads, TV, etc…? Now how many of these songs do you know which have writers who have received virtually no royalties?

“Without Love… We Have Nothing” was written by Joseph M. Martin and James Michael “Jimbo” Stevens and released as a choral anthem by CPP/Belwn in 1991. After a few years of marginal success it went out of print and was unavailable for commercial purchase. During this time when it was out of print, it became a hit in South Korea and has now been recorded on more that 150 different CDs and become widely known Asian Christians worldwide. It has been released under at least 10 different titles in Korean, English and Chinese. However, all of the uses were done without the knowledge of the writers/publishers, without permission, and without paying royalties.

This is not a case of the writers or companies not exercising proper copyright protection, but an example of outright theft. One of the most famous versions of “Without Love…” is a pop duet featuring Korean CCM star, Kim Myoung Sik, was actually recorded in Nashville, TN and produced/arranged by Nashville’s own Alberto Rivera. It was released in Korea, in the U.S, and around the world where it is sold as a Sony Music record release. Kim Myoung Sik was actually the executive director for the Korean Continentals when he first recorded the song, which is the Korean counterpart to the U.S. Continentals, formed by past Gospel Music Hall of Fame nominee and founder of the Seminar in the Rockies, Estes Park, CO, Cam Floria.

Many of the CDs are “Best of” compilations with titles such as: “2007 #1 CCM & Worship Songs,” “Gospel Music Last 100 Years,” “Best 100,” “Big!Hit,” “The Best 15 of Korean Church Music,” “50 Great Sacred Songs,” etc… Four of the CDs actual use “Without Love” or one of Korean derivatives as the title for their CD. It has been performed and recorded at two of the largest churches in the world, Manmin Church pastored by Dr. Jaerock Lee and Yoido Full Gospel Church pastored by Dr. David Cho. “Without Love…” was recently performed as the concluding number, along with the “Hallelujah Chorus,” by the joint mass choirs of Seoul National Univervsity and Pusan University in a concert in 2006.

“Without Love…” is a split copyright, which is owned by Shawnee Press (Music Sales Corp.) located on Music Row and Alfred Music which acquired it when it purchased Warner Brothers Publications. The publishers are now aware of the massive infringement as are ASCAP and BMI, but have as of yet been unsuccessful at collecting royalties. One of the problems is that it is difficult to track a song when it has been not only given new titles, but also translated into different languages such as Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. U.S. publishing organizations are not equipped to search for songs that use different languages, but rely on foreign affiliates and international counterparts such as KOMCA.

Korean versions of “Without Love… We Have Nothing,” which were used illegally, are now being sold in stores in the U.S. and performed across the country. In December of 2006, The L.A. Chamber Choir recorded a CD, which contains “Without Love…” under the title, “If I Speak With The Tongues of Angels,” along with the most familiar Korean title and there are many other documented uses of “Without Love…” across the U.S. and world. Although it has international recognition, it has yet to be recorded by an artist in English.

Joseph M. Martin, the Sacred Publications Director at Shawnee Press, and James Stevens, Music Department Chairman at Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville are amazed at the world-wide success of their song, but at least for now, are enjoying none of the financial rewards that usually accompanies a world wide hit. Their international sensation of a song entitled, “Without Love…We Have Nothing,” might need to be re-titled “Without Royalties… We Have Nothing.”

Joseph P. Weller

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Joseph P. Weller