Synchronization Rights in California

Synchronization RightsThe entertainment industry, and more specifically the music industry, is made up of professionals using their creative skills and talents to put together a piece for the public. While creating films is just as complicated, the process for creating music is quite intricate and involves many players. As such, it is very important that the correct people receive intellectual property law protections to guarantee their rights regarding a song.

The focus of this article will be to define and describe a synchronization (sync) license. The owner of a piece of music can grant a sync license such that the licensee has the right to synchronize the music to a visual medium, like a movie or a commercial. This license exists because if someone were to sync a song to a commercial without receiving said license, the person would be infringing the copyright of the owner of the piece.

For music, there are two main aspects of a song that are owned, which prove relevant for sync rights. First, the songwriter will compose the piece, and this will include instruments, vocals, and lyrics. To receive the rights to sync the composition of the song, you must receive a sync license from the publisher (this is who typically owns the sync rights). But, let’s say you want to sync a recorded performance version of a song to a commercial. Then, you will also have to secure the master rights as well, usually held by the performing artist’s record label.

To summarize this, it means that if you simply want the song to be synced to a visual medium, receiving the sync license will be enough. However, if you want to sync a specific artist’s rendition of that song (the artist for whom the song was composed for) then you must also receive the master license. Other terms that are important to understand for synchronization rights and licenses includes the territory where the music will be synced, its type of use, and length of time of music synced.

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