Music copyright plays a significant role and allows musicians and artists to protect their work from theft, infringement, or any kind of unauthorized use. If you aspire to pursue a career in the industry, you should learn the basics of copyright.
Copyrighting your lyrics, composition, or recording signifies legal ownership. No one can use your work for public or commercial purposes without your permission. Legal ownership provides you exclusive rights to your work. To redistribute and reproduce your work, a person or entity would require your legal consent. This handy guide can help you understand the copyright laws in the music industry and how they can protect artists’ rights.
When do copyrights protect music?
When you compose a new piece or write a song with original lyrics, you can seek copyright protection for your work. A Los Angeles copyright lawyer can be a good person to consult if you want to know how to proceed. The following are some of the types of copyright that exist in the music industry.
- Composition copyrights: A musical composition can comprise various things, including notes, melodies, chords, and lyrics. If you have created a unique and original musical work, you should consider seeking copyright protection for it.
- Sound recording copyrights: Two separate copyrights are available for innovative music pieces and recordings. Under the Copyright Act, you can apply copyrights for both the original music composition and the sound recording of the original music composition.
- Master recording: A master recording is the original and complete version of a recorded song. It can also be referred to as an official recording, which is often controlled by the music label. It is important to understand that there can be multiple sound recordings, and you should protect them to prevent their misuse.
- Copyright registration: Any music artist can register and get their work copyrighted with the U.S. Copyright Office. The creator can generally get exclusive rights to the work for their lifetime, plus 70 years after their death. It also provides the creator with additional protections, such as:
- A public record of the copyright claim
- The right to sue a person or entity for infringement
5. Poor man’s registration: Many songwriters and composers who have budget constraints use this method, whereby they mail themselves a certified copy of their work. It can save money at first, but it does not serve as proof of ownership. Even in the eyes of the law, it does not serve as an alternative for registration. It will not protect your work against infringement, and you may end up losing all of the additional protections. You should avoid adopting this method as a means of protecting your work.
Copyrights provide music artists and creators exclusive rights to use their work.
Music artists and creators have the right to protect their innovative work under the eyes of the law. An artist can sue infringers if they misuse protected work. The copyright law provides copyright holders with the following exclusive rights:
- Right to reproduce the work: The copyright owners have the right to reproduce their own work, such as by printing CDs or vinyl. In addition, artists can produce their work and publish it on various streaming websites.
- Right to grant permission to others: The artist who owns copyrighted content and the original work can reproduce it as they choose. The owner can also grant permission to third parties. If a third party wishes to create a derivative work, they may need licenses and permission from the original artist. The owner of the copyright can decide whether to provide them with such permissions.
- Right to perform the work publicly: A copyright provides an artist with the exclusive right to perform the work in shows and concerts publicly. Both composition owners and master copyright holders can consider applying for performance rights. This can be one of the sources of revenue for songwriters and publishers. Some of the other places for which rights are required to perform copyrighted music include:
- Public spaces, such as restaurants, bars, or clubs
- Radio broadcasts
- TV broadcasts
- Audio-streaming on Spotify or other services
- Right to display the work publicly: The copyright owner also has the exclusive right to display their work in public spaces. In some cases, a print license may be required, which can be expensive.
- Right to distribute copies publicly: The copyright also provides the holder with an exclusive right to create new copies or distribute more copies in the market. Therefore, the original creator will have all rights to sell authorized copies to the public.
Copyright protection can prevent other musicians and companies from using your work. Copyrighting the work means that only the original creators can earn performance royalties when their music is played publicly or digitally.
You can get in touch with one of the experienced Los Angeles entertainment lawyers to discuss your concerns about copyright. They can assist you at every stage of your career in the music industry.