Jumpin’ Jack Flash – A Case Study of the Copyrights Bundle

The song “Jumpin Jack Flash” (more correctly, Jumpin’) is known to most people. It was composed, like almost all of the Rolling Stones’ songs, by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger.

So, although I don’t want this to look like a lesson in music copyright laws, the point is they own the copyright in the song. The lesson we’re looking at here is a case study on the copyrights bundle: what does this mean in practical terms?
Okay, first it gets recorded, right? Well, there on the master we have the first ‘reproduction’of the song.
That master gets used to produce a zillion singles; and also the master for the LP release which first featured the song. Now, each time another disc is pressed/cut whatever from that master, the song is ‘reproduced’.
Now the record label takes the single to the radio stations. They play the song – that’s broadcasting the work isn’t it? Someone sitting at home records the broadcast on his tape deck, hard drive whatever. That’s yet another ‘reproduction’ of Jumpin’ Jack Flash.
Then some band records a cover version. (Because that’s a good way to get noticed, right?) Another reproduction. And then the same process for the pressing of their singles and albums – all lots and lots of ‘reproductions’. The band includes it in their live performance repertoire – that is ‘performing the work’ in public.
Then a film producer wants to use the song in the soundtrack of a movie starring Whoopi Goldberg. (This actually happened. The other examples given below are fictional – we think!) That’s including the work in a cinematographic film – music synchronization in other words. Hundreds of copies are made for distribution to the theatres who buy the distribution and screening rights – you got it, that’s hundreds of reproductions. Just think – global synchronization rights!
At some stage or another, a TV network likes the famous opening riff for Jumpin Jack Flash and uses it as the signature tune for their series on skateboarding – that is including the work in a television broadcast, and we’re yet again talking about audio to video synchronization. Of course, you’re saying, each week when the series comes on it’s a new reproduction, is that not so? And you are quite correct.
All the while, if the contracts are structured properly, Jagger/Richards are getting paid a royalty for each of these little reproductions.
It gets better. The London Symphony Orchestra wants to do a ‘classic’ version of the song, without lyrics. That’s an adaptation. And then they make a record, and then they perform it, and we have the same set of scenarios which we sketched above now repeating themselves.
And then Ladysmith Black Mambazo do a version of the song, in their famous isicathimiya style. Also an adaptation. They perform it in public, and a record of it gets radio play, meaning a broadcast of a reproduction (ie. the recording) of a public peformance of an adaptation of the original composition. Whew! Then someone likes that recording and wants to include it in a documentary on the world-famous leader group leader, Joseph Shabalala…. And so it goes.
Oh, and then the movie gets released on video/dvd/blue ray. And The Rolling Stones repertoire is released on CD, and later becomes available digitally. And then the skateboarder TV series from 1997/8 is re-run every two years. And then Jeep or whoever want to use the riff in a worldwide ad-campaign for their new off-roader… No bets on whether you have the picture by now. Chances are, there could be a Jumpin’ Jack Flash synchronization license manager all by himself!
Just think of those royalty streams, all from one little (great) song. Royalties? Yes, because Jagger/Richards will not give permission for all the different stages of “reproduction” unless there is a royalty paid for it. Unfortunately, as you might imagine, this can be fertile ground for copyright infringement cases. But if the rights are managed properly – and this doesn’t mean just sticking the copyright symbol everywhere – unless there are the anti-copyright types out there who expect there always to be copyright free music, this should not be problematic. It’s what publishers do.
You know, it is up to the person who wants the song. Yes, they can put Jumpin’ Jack Flash in the movie they wanna make on their cellphone. (One reproduction.) Oh, but you are going to put that on the internet?? Whoa, kid! Then we’re talking internet copyright issues, and that is like how many reproductions??
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