What is a Copyright?
- A copyright is the exclusive legal right that grants ownership over an original work.
- A copyright gives the creator the exclusive right to:
- Reproduce the work
- Distribute copies of the work
- Publicly perform the work
- Publicly display the work
- Prepare any derivative work(s)
What are the different types of rights associated with music copyrights?
- Reproduction: The right to make copies of the work e.g. record, cassette, CD, sheet music, etc.
- Distribution of copies: The right to distribute and sell copies of the work.
- Public Performance: The right to have the work performed publicly e.g. nightclub, live venue, on the radio, television, elevators, stores, restaurants, etc.
- Public display: The right to display the lyrics and/or musical notation to a song e.g. music on a karaoke machine.
- Making derivative works: The right to create a musical work based on another e.g. a remix of another song or a parody.
When and how do I obtain a copyright?
- Copyright ownership is automatically conferred when you create a piece of music. Many rights owners also choose to register their works with a government Copyright Office or PRO (Performing Rights Organization). There are many PROs all across the world which cover different territories.
- People or companies can hire people to create music for them. These are called “works for hire”. With a work for hire, the copyright is owned by the hiring party. It is important to get clarity and written agreement about any music that may be considered a work for hire.
- Sometimes the copyright for a recording of a musical work (the “master”) is granted or transferred to a third party, such as a record label, in exchange for the financing of the recording itself (in addition to other value such as marketing, promotion, and distribution). When a label is involved, there will be a written agreement that sets out the master copyright ownership.
Why are copyrights important?
- For songwriters: copyrights help to ensure your songs or musical ideas are only used with your permission and that you are compensated for any permitted usages.
- For performing and recording artists: copyrights help to ensure that your performance (and recording) of the work are only used with your permission and that you are compensated for any permitted usages.
- For someone wanting to use music in projects: obtaining advance permission to use someone else's music protects you from any potential lawsuits or infringement claims, which can often be more expensive in time and money than paying properly for usage in the first place.
- There are enhanced protections for copyright owners who register their works with a government Copyright Office and later need to assert that a third party has infringed or violated their copyright. These protections vary by country.
If you believe your music on Songtradr has been used without permission or infringed upon, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.