Brief Overview of Music Copyright

For musicians everywhere, music is their craft and their own unique work. The circumstances can be different for each musician; some musicians work with studios while others have their own independent labels to everything in between. Regardless of the way in which you produce and distribute your music, it is essential that your music remains your own piece of work. Therefore, intellectual property law becomes an essential topic for musicians. More specifically, it is very important that an artist understands music copyright.

Brief Overview of Music CopyrightProtection by the composition copyright

Music copyright can be an intricate topic and, as such, it is important to speak with an experienced intellectual property law attorney. However, this article will provide some of the basics. Music copyright means that the music an artist creates is protected by certain rights afforded by a government body. There are usually two types of copyright discussed with music: composition and master. The song itself is protected by the composition copyright whereas the recording of the song is protected by the master copyright. Therefore, multiple people can be involved in various types of copyright. Some may have specific rights because of their contribution to the song while others can have other rights given to them because of their recording of the song. The overall goals of the various types of copyright are to ensure that the owner of said rights is the only one who can determine how the song or the recording is used and receives the relevant profits from it.

In order to have the appropriate copyright, the owner of the work can register with the US copyright office. Usually, the copyright will last for the duration of the author’s lifetime plus an additional 70 years. Therefore, if someone without permission from the owner of the copyright attempts to use or reproduce or in any other way use the song or recording, they can face a lawsuit from the owner. Some may ask how other artists can cover or perform another individual’s songs in public or on internet platforms. Said actions require an appropriate license from the owner. Therefore, all artists should be aware of their rights and copyright issues for musical work.

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