Music law is a sub-term belonging to the larger umbrella of “entertainment law.” Entertainment law covers the legal principles dealing with several branches of the industry. These include Music, Motion Picture, Publishing, Television, Theater, and Sports.
The laws that impact how the music industry operates belong under music law. It involves anything from creating, selling, and performing music, and even how users listen to it. This law involves everyone in the music industry, from the singer, songwriter, producer, record label, live events sector, and the music publisher.
Music law also covers traditional legal topics such as intellectual property law, contract law, bankruptcy law, defamation, and licensing laws, among others.
It’s not just people in the entertainment or music industry that are directly affected by music law. A majority of individuals in society have to deal with it in one form or the other.
Music writers and distributors, along with the performers, are often the first few people directly influenced by music law. Distributors need a license to circulate the music, while musicians require a legal right to perform any licensed song or track.
This is also true for any establishment or business that wants to use music. They need to comply with the legal stipulations surrounding the use of songs. Even regular listeners and consumers should follow music law, especially on their use of the track or the album they purchased.
Music copyright is the legal ownership of a musical composition or recording. Once original music is created, it only needs to satisfy two requirements to qualify for copyright.
The moment original music is transposed into a tangible form, it is automatically copyrighted. There is no need to publish the track or register it with the U.S. Copyright Office. However, registering a copyright is recommended if you intend to release the music to the public and want it to be protected. Having registered copyright is also the only way to collect benefits from a musical composition. Copyright remains active for 70 years after the artist’s death.
Songwriters and creators may choose to keep their copyright or sell it. It is the job of music publishers and those in the world of music publishing to promote and monetize the composition. Music publishers work with songwriters to receive royalties for their music. They also ensure that the music receives exposure and is reproduced or performed commercially.
Publishers also perform other key roles such as registering for a copyright, collecting royalties, and auditing. It also falls within their jurisdiction to negotiate the music rights when it comes to licensing. They also assist in promoting the track by making sure the catalog they manage lives on through covers and interpretations.
Once a piece of music becomes successful, it’s likely to receive licensing requests. This request to license the music may come from brands, companies, or other entities who might want to use the track in a TV show, an ad, or in some other form. To use the music, a brand or entity has to obtain and pay for the corresponding licensing fees. There are six types of licensing options available depending on where and how the music will be used.
These are the following:
Each of these licensing options involves a lot of intricacies. Hiring the services of a music law firm can make things easier. Music licensing involves buying and selling music rights. If disputes happen, it can lead to litigation. In this instance, the knowledge and assistance of a music business attorney are crucial.
Finding the right music law firm is vital when navigating the legalities of music copyright, publishing, or licensing. A music lawyer can assist you in various legal issues like managing contracts, trademark issues, or copyright complaints.
A qualified music business attorney has deep knowledge of music and entertainment laws. This means they can offer insight into the industry and guide you with the correct steps to take.
ChaseLawyers® is a law firm specializing in entertainment law, with offices in Miami and New York. Their veteran lawyers are familiar with music law, as well as other industries like the arts, sports, and television.
If you seek representation or need answers to a legal issue in the entertainment field, reach out to our expert lawyers for a consultation today.
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