Faq Frequently Asked Questions About Copyright In Music
How much does it cost to acquire the rights of a song and how much will I have to pay in royalties?
The truth is that there are no fixed or estimated price tables.
The price will depend on what each author or record label considers the commercial exploitation of the song to be worth.
There are many who could cede their exploitation almost for free, while there are others who could claim figures with up to 6 and 7 digits, and same happens with royalties.
To be sure, it is best to ask the author, representative or record label directly.
What is the Intellectual Property Law?
Intellectual Property Law is a branch of property law whose purpose is to promote the advancement of ideas, protect any original creation, and provide its authors with a series of rights to safeguard their creation.
Within the Intellectual Property Law, there are four main branches with their own particularities: copyrights, trademarks, patents, and industrial secrets.
What works are protected by copyright?
How long do the exploitation rights last?
The duration of exploitation rights may vary from country to country, but in the United States these rights expire after:
- 70 years after the authors death, or
- 120 years after the creation of the song, or
- 95 years after the publication of the song
Whichever is shorter.
Once this date has passed, the work becomes part of the public domain and may be used without authorization. However, its authority and integrity must always be respected.
How To Use Copyright To Protect Your Work
When it comes to lyrics, writing them in your notebook grants you instant legal music rights. Once the ink hits the page, you can assert any of the exclusive rights above the lyrics you’ve written. But what if someone in another city, several months later, writes very similar or even the same lyrics? How can you prove that you wrote them first?
Copyright registration is the process whereby you can establish your priority as the first author. For a small copyright registration fee, you put everyone on notice that these are your lyrics. Anyone who writes those same lyrics after the fact is subject to your exclusive rights as a copyright holderand you don’t even have to prove the later author ever saw your work.
The Library of Congress keeps a comprehensive list of every painting, poem, and song registration copyright. Although few songwriters scour song copyright registration to determine if a new tune infringes on an existing onethey probably should. Song copyright registration grants constructive notice to the song. The tune, the lyrics, the drum track on the recording, and chord progression in the bridge are each element an individual and expressive part to which the author can assert any of the exclusive rights.
That’s why it’s so difficult to create an automated song copyright checker. It would take a complex algorithm that could listen to music and integrate all the choices made by the composer, lyricist, and performer.
Pay To Record Your Album
The cost to produce a high quality album in the 20th century often would exceed six figures. What new band had a cool $150-300K to drop on studio recording and associated costs? Labels provided that infusion of cash, which resulted in a professionally-recorded commercial release.
Today, artists have a range of options to record for much lower studio rates, or record their project at home using pro-quality systems. Many artists use a blend of both, choosing to track at a professional studio, and then complete the album at home, before using a top mastering engineer to polish the final release. The net result is that many artists are recording albums for a fraction of what is used to cost. For an artist who can afford to cover this expense, it provides a strong advantage, as they dont need a label to pay for the recording.
With a recording that is comparable in quality to whats on the charts, you will be in a strong position to look for a deal with a label that leaves master rights ownership in your hands and saves the label the time, expense, and uncertainty regarding whether your recording will result in a quality master.
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Examples Of The Proper Use Of Forms Pa And Sr
Emily Tree performs and records Jane Smiths Blowing in the Breeze after complying with permissions and license procedures. If Emily decides to submit her recording for copyright registration, she should use Form SR.
The same principles apply to literary and dramatic works. A recorded performance of an actor speaking lines from Hamlet could be registered on Form SR as a sound recording. The claimant in the sound recording, of course, has no copyright in the underlying work, Hamlet.
Does Copyright Protect Music
- Copyright only protects certain kinds of creations called ‘works’ and ‘other subject matter’. For information about how copyright protects other things like art and film, see the Artist in the Black information sheet on Copyright.
- Works protected by copyright include song lyrics and music. Music might be a composition for an orchestra, rap music or music for a traditional instrument like a yidaki or didgeridu.
- Other subject matter protected by copyright includes sound recordings. It might be a sound recording of a live performance or one made in a recording studio.
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Q: What Information Should I Include In My Request For Music Rights
- Submit a synopsis of the film and the film’s budget.
- Provide as much detail as possible on how you intend to use the song: main title or end title feature or background number of times the song is used, duration and placement for each use.
- Specify where your film will be screened. For example, is your film a student film being viewed solely in an educational environment? Or is your film an independent film, which will screen at festivals?
- Ask how the fee will increase in the event of possible future performances in different types of media.
- If you are planning on securing soundtrack rights at the same time, ask how that affects your fees.
What Does It Mean To Own Your Masters
Kanye, Taylor, Frank – theres a lot of talk about the importance of owning your masters these days. Read our guide on how to remain in charge of your music and find out what being signed actually means.
At Amuse, our mission is to help independent artists accelerate their careers, on their own terms. We remain proud believers that all artists should own their masters and have the opportunity to build their music careers without having to sell the rights to their work. Thats why we letartists keep 100% of their rights, even if we sign them to our label.
The music industry is broken, for artists of all sizes, and its why we wanted to fix it.
Want to learn more about being in charge of your music career for real? Read on for our guide to owning master recordings and what being signed to a major label can actually mean.
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Prs For Music Publishing Royalties
PRS, Performing Rights Society, is a collection society for songwriters in the UK. They are responsible for collecting royalties generated by copyrighted music. Your song generates royalties from public performances. PRS distributes these royalties to you but will have to sign up with PRS and register your songs for this to happen.
Once you sign up to PRS, they will pay the owner of the publishing the royalties they collect from venues, radio stations etc. If you keep your publishing rights, they will pay you directly. If you sign away your publishing rights to a publisher, you will receive a cut based on your agreement.
Ways To Distribute And Publish Your Own Music Without A Label
When compared to other industries, the recording industry really hasnt been around that long. And in the century or so of recorded music sales, a lot has changed. The past two decades have seen the biggest changes. The last five years especially have pushed us exponentially into a brave new world. Weve already explored the turbulent voyage into digital music distribution. Today, however, were going to hone in on one specific aspect of modern music distribution: self-publishingmore specifically, how to publish your own music and get it out to the masses without a label.
There are a few hoops to jump through on this journey, but none are too cumbersome on their own. So weve broken down how to publish your own music into 5 categories. These dont necessarily follow an order, but each one matters nonetheless.
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Why Would I Want To Register My Copyright
When your content is stolen or misused, your first thought may be to take legal action. The first question you may be asked is, Did you register with the Copyright Office? Thats because when you register, you have the ultimate leverage.
According to updated regulations, you must register with the U.S. Copyright Office before you can file a lawsuit. Other types of registrations or mailing your music to yourself are not substitutes for USCO registration. Early registration can grant you a large payout up to $150,000 per infringement PLUS your legal fees, but only if you register before your music is stolen or misused.
Receive up to $200-$30,000
per work .
Registering with the U.S. Copyright Office is one of the most important actions you can take and its something that you should want to do shortly after or before your music is released.
A registered work is your only ticket into court and it will carry a lot more weight than a sealed package, a Soundcloud link, or beer-soaked napkin.
In the USA, youd want to register your copyright with the US Copyright Office, part of the Library of Congress.
Appeal To Instagram Decision If You Want To Use The Music
If youve used a copyrighted music track without any proper credits to the creator then the Instagram automated system identifies the copyright infringement and deletes your video. In case, you feel the deletion of your content is wrong and youve followed all Instagram music copyright rules then there is a chance to appeal to the owners to use the music. After appealing to the Instagram decision and owners dont forget to provide proper credits in Captions.
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Avoid Poor Man’s Copyright
The idea behind poor mans copyright is that if you mail yourself a copy of your work and leave it unopened, the official federal date can be used to enforce copyright infringement protection.
This is a nice idea, but it doesn’t work.
In order to have access to the courts, you need to register your work with the Copyright Office.
Who Gets Music Royalties And Administers Them
The following roles either receive or distribute royalties for copyrighted music:
Songwriters are those who write both the music and lyrics for a song. They receive either mechanical, performance, or sync royalties depending on the usage of their recordings.
If multiple songwriters contributed to a song, they would need a split sheet. A songwriter split sheet is a written agreement that identifies each contributor to a song and establishes ownership percentages amongst them. The agreed percentages determine how much each contributor will receive from the royalties generated by their music.
The publisher is the person or company responsible for ensuring copyright holders receive payment for using their music. For example, a music publisher will obtain the songwriting copyright in exchange for royalty privileges.
A publishing company will also issue licenses for using music they represent. They also monitor them and collect licensing fees. These publishing royalties get split between the publisher and the songwriter.
3. Record Labels
Record labels market and distribute an artists original work. They often have the master rights to a recorded song, but not the publishing rights.
4. Digital Music Distributor
5. Performing Artists
A performing artist is anyone who performs the songwriters original work. Performing artists do not have publishing rights unless they are also the songwriter.
6. Performing Rights Organization
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Q: What Licenses Must I Get To Use A Song In My Film
A: If you are using a pre-recorded song or another pre-recorded piece of music in your film, there are two rights you need to clear that is to say, you need to get two different licenses to use the music.
- Synchronization License: This is the right to synchronize a song or a piece of music with your visual image. It must be obtained from the copyright owner of the music, which is usually the publisher. You can find out who the publisher is by using ASCAP’s Clearance Express at www.ascap.com/ace. Songs that are not represented by ASCAP might be found at HFA . You will be provided with a contact at the publisher’s Business Affairs or Licensing Department.
- Master Use License: This is the right to reproduce a specific recording of a song in your film. You clear this right with the record label who owns the specific recording you would like to use see the liner notes of the recording to find out which company this is. Alternatively, you can get contact information for record labels by calling ASCAP’s Film/TV Department. You will be provided with a contact at the record label’s Business Affairs Department.
How To Ask For Copyright Permission To Use A Song
Once youve tracked down the copyright holder, you can contact them, usually by writing a letter or email. Refer to this sample letter or follow this guide. The main thing is to identify yourself, the song/original music you want to use, and explain how/where it will be used. Is it not-for-profit? Commercial use? Finally, you can ask them to sign and return the letter by way of agreement, or contact you to negotiate for the music rights.
If you expect your usage/views to be very limited, you may get permission to use the piece for free, but if you expect to profit from or monetize your video, you will likely need to pay the owner a fee.
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How Do You Find The Copyright Owner Of A Song
So you want to use music in your video. Often, tracking down the owner and successfully contacting them is the most challenging part of getting permission, but a good place to start is with the music publisher or the record company.
You can often find the contact information for music publishers through performing rights societies, since all professional songwriters and music publishers belong to one of these organizations. ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC are the main organizations, and members can only belong to one of them. Try searching their databases for a given title, but if you dont find it at one society, the copyright owner likely belongs to one of the other two. If you find the title here, you should also find the contact information for the owner.
What Are The Main Challenges In The Industry Regarding Licensing
The number one challenge in the licensing system today is the identification of works.
The number one challenge in the licensing system today is the identification of works. Collecting societies rely on metadata to identify works. Very often, the information available is not qualitative enough to properly match a work with its rights owners.
Moreover, the international licensing system relies on two types of information: the sound recording data, associated with the International Standard Recording Codes and the publishing data, associated with the International Standard Work Codes . Today, there is no system in place to reconcile the two, and third-party tech providers often dont have access to it.
To remain relevant, collective societies understood the importance of cooperation, and their future strongly depends on the success of such initiatives.
Technologies like audio fingerprinting, metadata enrichment or blockchains have been developed to reduce over time the number of unidentified works. Still, thousands of new works are added every day to thousands of music databases existing within the publishing industrywhich makes the task very complex. Initiatives of centralized repertoire databases emerged in the past, but without success so far.
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Do You Really Need Theory
Of course, it is possible to produce music without any knowledge of theory. Many electronic music producers, for instance, maximize the use of texture instead of harmony to create interest in their songs. Some producers such as Burial are known for their musical simplicity, while some prefer to make dense and abstract songs using a ton of samples musicality be damned.
Still, knowing theory greatly improves your versatility and assists you in songwriting. Andrew Huang has a fun video on music theory wherein he discussed all of the basics in half an hour. It is worth checking out.