Your music is unique. And after the time and effort poured into producing such a creation, the last thing you want is for some unscrupulous type to lay claim to your masterpiece. Unlike books, brands, articles, and the like, music copyright law can be somewhat intimidating and, let’s be brutally honest, often downright confusing.
So let’s boil it down to the cold hard facts, and provide a simple to understand overview of this complicated subject once and for all.
What is a music copyright?
In short, it means protection for your musical creations that are original and in tangible form. This could, for example, be a recording on CD or written as sheet music. Regarding music, there are two types of copyright:
- The musical composition itself. This includes the underlying music and any lyrics.
- The second is the actual sound recording. In other words, the specific recording of a musical work. So if you were to write and record a second version of a song there would be a second copyright for that one as well. This also applies to cover versions—the original artist owns the copyright of the musical composition, and the second copyright is applied to the sound recording of the cover.
So what rights does copyright give?
Owning the copyright allows you to:
- Record and reproduce your work (for example, CDs, downloads, vinyl, etc.)
- Distribute your work (streaming, posting online, etc.)
- Prepare derivative works (such as sampling it into other music)
- Perform your music in public (or on the radio)
- Display it publicly as a copyrighted piece
This is not a finite list of what copyright provides, but covers the basics. The crucial aspect is that copyright allows you to stop anyone else doing those things without your explicit permission.
How long does copyright last?
As long as your work was created on or after 01 January 1978 (which is when the current Copyright Act dates from) it lasts for your lifetime plus 70 years.
How to copyright your music
It’s really quite simple, and only involves submitting an application to the US Copyright Office (with, naturally, the appropriate fee). Although technically you get automatic copyright as soon as you create an original piece of music in a tangible form, in the USA you don’t get the benefits unless you’ve actually registered it.
Sadly, music law is pretty complicated, which is why many people take advantage of a quality entertainment law firm to make sure they get everything spot on. Chase Lawyers are experts in all aspects of copyrighting and entertainment law and are the trusted provider for artists all over the country. Thanks to having offices in multiple major US cities, and the ability to work remotely, clients can take advantage of their top-level service without having to simply make do with a copyright lawyer near where they live.
The services copyright lawyers at Chase bring to artists goes far and beyond the aspects of just copyrighting your music, and includes issues such as copyright infringement and the potential protection of copyrighting not only the music itself, but music videos, album art, and band logos. For more information get in touch with their friendly team for a no-obligation chat about how they can assist with all aspects of entertainment law.