The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Monday, June 25, 2007

Yamamai Royalties

I have two questions. How many performers have recorded Chaim Dovid's "Niggun" (popularly known as "Yamamai"?

Second, how many performers have paid him royalties?

I know that Lev Tahor and Shalheves have paid royalties. I know that there are at least two well known performers who have not. Are there more?

What is the halachic basis for thinking that it's yashar to take some one's music and not pay for it? The incredibly lame excuse that I've heard is that these musicians are popularizing the tune and therefore benefiting the author. Puh-Leeeze. (And, if that's the case, how about the decency of asking permission?).

If anyone records a niggun from U'Shmuel B'korei Sh'mo without paying royalties or working out a deal with me, I will personally go after them even if it costs me money to do so. That's not a threat. It's a promise.



  • At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you think yossi green and yitzy bald arent victims of this same thing? You this Moshe Laufer and Abi Rotenberg are paif royalties too? You think everytime some sloppy minstrel in sandals or some souped up suburban choir records and selss their tunes that they actually are paid royalties?

  • At 4:58 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    what's your point?

  • At 7:10 PM, Blogger Chaim said…

    I think his point is that they all steal from each other so they think it's OK. Which obviously is a really weak point.

    I personally don't care WHO has been stolen from, if they themselves also take without permision. Then they are wrong.

    I have two side comments to make.

    1) You should ALWAYS ask permission and just out of respect for another artist, at least offer some form of royalty. If you yourself don't ask permission, then you have no right to be upset if someone takes your own tune.

    2) If you don't GO AFTER the people taking your tunes I also don't feel bad. I know that might not be a popular stance to some, but if you arent planning on doing something about then your wasting your breath.

    No one will learn unless they are punished. Otherwise it will keep happening. I'm sure after the first wave of lawsuits thing would change real fast.

  • At 9:20 AM, Blogger Jacob Da Jew said…

    Go get the thugs!

  • At 3:04 PM, Blogger BrooklynWolf said…

    People could take a lesson from Weird Al Yankovic.

    By law, because what he does is parody, he doesn't have to ask for permission when he wants to parody a tune. And yet, he *always* asks permission before "ripping off" someone else's work.

    The Wolf

  • At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Jewish Femme said…

    You may be lucky and nobody will want to copy from you.

    First pray that it's copy-worthy then worry about it.

  • At 5:20 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…


    I don't really care whether it's "copy worthy". The CD speaks for itself. Baruch Hashem, it has gotten very good reviews and I have gotten very good feedback. It's also sold a few copies (and has been copied illegally countless times (but that's a different issue). Whether anyone deems the songs worthy of recording is of no importance to me. All I expect is that, if they do, they will either pay me royalties or, if for any reason they would want to record a song without paying royalties, ask my permission. That is not a lot to ask.

  • At 10:06 AM, Anonymous klezmer said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    MoC - do you "own" the songs on the album?
    You have so many different composers (and many different singers singing songs that some of them didnt write themselves) who actually owns the rights to each specific song? if a composer gives permission do they need permission from the producer if he doesnt "own" the song?

    In any event, parody just means to change a key or a note...which is what most people do. No one who has done their own yamamai has actually done it in the original key and the original notation sequence as done by chaim dovid (blogindm discusses this)

  • At 8:18 PM, Blogger uberimma said…

    Oh, I forgot to tell you--I brought a copy of the CD to my friend in Vienna. She loves it.

  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    anon 4:05

    The only songs that were not original were Ben Zion Solomon's traditional Breslov niggun and Melech Rachaman by Reb Shlomo. We have paid royalties on the Carlebach song and I have an arrangement with all of the other writers.

    I'm not sure what your point is about parody.

  • At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There is some grey area because there are different types of royalties depending usage.

    I don't know if there's halachic grounds for something like this.

    The Carlebach family won litigation a few years back on something similar.

    If they're using the same recording, mechanical royalties are $.08 cents per copy per use, I believe, provided the song has previously been published. There's another royalty as well for use of copyrighted, already published material. The Shaaleh is whether or not Chaim David took care of this. If so, he has a case which can generally be settled with a letter outlining the legal basis.

    The "popularizing" claim holds no water; All Along the Watchtower was an obscure Dylan song until Hendrix covered it and made it famous. But Hendrix paid his royalties. Big publishing houses like BMI tend to police these things pretty well, if you're willing to sign away your publishing rights (and monies). One can self publish as well. Its not terribly complicated. So did you publish the songs or did the artists? I'm not talkng about the record itself, I'm talking about the legal paperwork to declare that some a thing exists. There is a difference. One without the other leaves you wide open.

    But the opposite is also true; a cover of a song (not a parody- the commenter gets it wrong- that's not what this technically is, though on an artistic basis.. hmmm) can also be published as a unique take on the material. Its too lengthy to get into here, but the issue is most contestable when there's a recorded document being sold. Without permission to waive royalties, without permission at all, they're asking for it.

    Adam Davis

  • At 9:55 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…


    I think you are generally correct. The fee per CD printed is 9.1 cents, not 8 anymore.

  • At 11:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

  • At 4:31 AM, Blogger Yaro Gabriel said…

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