Entertainment Lawyer | Two Copyrights of Recorded Music: Intro

Our NYC and Miami Entertainment Law Firm advises and represents clients in all legal matters related to music, sports, television/film, visual and literary works, modeling, online matters, and intellectual property.

Ask the Entertainment Lawyer: “What is a Copyright?”

“What is a copyright?” is one of the most common questions amongst artists and intellectuals seeking to claim ownership over their works, and who better to answer than Miami’s premier entertainment lawyer? In laymen’s terms, a copyright is the legal right to own your music or other creative work. This right to ownership is even memorialized in the Constitution, which says that Congress has the power to “promote the Progress of… useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors … the exclusive Right to their respective Writings.” Of course, when that magnificent article was drafted the writers were mainly referring to written works, but the basic principle of an exclusive right of ownership provided by a copyright extends to cover artwork, musical compositions, photographs, movies, TV shows, architectural works and many other “works” including sound recordings!

Components of a Music Copyright

It is essential to their careers that musicians know that every musical work includes TWO copyrights. One of these copyrights belongs to the composer of the song, the actual notes and lyrics, while the second applies to the actual recorded piece such as a .WAV or .mp3 file of the composition’s performance.

We can use Irving Berlin’s composition of “White Christmas” to illustrate. Once Irving Berlin had written the musical composition of “White Christmas” he had created “intellectual property” rights for himself – a copyright applying to the musical composition. By recording the composition on a scratch track, he would create a second, new copyright for the recorded performance of the previously written composition. In both instances, “White Christmas” was converted from a set of thoughts in Irving’s head to a piece of property which he owned.

Since Irving owned “White Christmas” – just as you might own your car – it was up to him whether to let anyone else use it. Composers make a living by “licensing” their musical compositions to others through entertainment lawyers. These “licensees” of the composition copyright use their licenses to make money in different ways. Record labels, advertisers, movie producers, radio stations etc. use a song in various creative works and sometimes even blend the composition with other creative works (like a movie score). In return for their use of an artist’s work, like Irving’s “White Christmas,” the copyright owner is paid with either up-front cash or “royalties” as a percentage of money the licensee makes using the copyright license.

The entertainment industry can be a complicated field to navigate. As a trusted leader in Miami entertainment law, ChaseLawyers can help. With over 40 years of experience, Our Miami based lawyers have helped individuals in nearly every area of entertainment law in Miami, including sports, music, film, television, modeling, literature, and more. We understand the unique challenges you face as a creative, and we’re prepared to protect your interests.

As an artist in Miami, you must navigate the intricacies of copyright law, trademarks, contractual agreements, and much more. It is critical you choose a qualified Miami entertainment lawyer with expertise in the nuances of the entertainment world. ChaseLawyers has built a stellar reputation among our clientele for honest, professional representation that produces effective results. We have extensive experience in the unique legal elements you must navigate as an artist, and our attorneys can provide you with indispensable career advice and expertise over the course of your entertainment career.

When you work with ChaseLawyers, you are more than just a client. We care about your well-being and can provide essential advice on the issues you face in the Miami market, such as intellectual property issues, negotiating service agreements, publicity rights, and much more. We also have an extensive network of resources available for our clients to connect with, and those connections can enrich your career in countless ways. Our team understands the complex world of entertainment law and will take care of your legal needs so you can focus on doing what you do best—sharing your talent with the world!

When you’re ready to take the next step in your career, our Miami entertainment lawyers are ready to help you. We are passionate about helping creatives with all of their legal needs, and you won’t find a team more dedicated to your success in all of Miami. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!