Music Copyright Rules

Music Copyright Rules

Music copyright and trademark laws are a method of claiming ownership of a created work and controlling how that work is used in public.

The issues around music copyright are incredibly popular and controversial right now.  The rise of the Internet and the increase of immediate access to media has brought the issues of piracy, ownership, plagiarism, and “fair-use” to the front of the debate table as old laws are being re-written to include the new medium and new laws are being proposed to increase the protection of music copyright holders and creators.

Due to the immense complexities of the music copyright and trademark laws, this site will focus primarily on issues of abuse and protection, particularly in regards to the music industry.  While we will try to be as comprehensive as possible and to include the best advice we possibly can regarding music copyright and trademark issues, the law is constantly evolving.  In order to get the best possible guidance or help for your particular music copyright and trademark issues, it is highly recommended that you speak with an experienced music copyright attorney.  A knowledgeable music copyright lawyer will be able to discuss issues related to your specific needs as well as be up to date on the most current copyright laws.

In general, music copyright and trademark laws are a method of claiming ownership of a created work and controlling how that work is used in public.  Music copyright and trademark can get complicated when the owner of the music copyright is not the person or persons who created the work that is copyrighted.  This is very common in the music industry, where musicians and other artists function as “artists for hire” in the employ of the publishing company.  As such, the company that paid to have the work created takes ownership of the work and owns the music copyright or the trademark.  In most cases, this is part of the recording contract and the creating artist(s) hand over the ownership of the music copyright in exchange for money, promotion, and royalties.  There are many advantages to this sort of deal.  For one, it allows the artist to function solely as a creative entity while the publishing company handles the business end of the relationship.  However, the history of music is full of stories of artists being unhappy and even abused by their publishing companies, so it is wise to seek the advice of an experienced music copyright lawyer when negotiating with a music publisher.

But, if you are working with other artists, such as a songwriting partner, other musicians, or graphic artists, it is also good advice to seek counsel with an experienced music copyright lawyer.  A good music copyright attorney can help ensure that everyone involved is suitably protected and that contribution of all the individuals is adequately represented.  This can help prevent infighting and complex litigation in the future.  The most famous example of this would probably be the battle over the name of the band “Pink Floyd” and the right to perform their songs between band members Roger Waters and David Gilmour.  And experienced music copyright lawyer can help organize the potential issues long before they come to the surface and help ensure that all of the artistic contributors have claim to the ownership that they deserve.

Even if you intend to self-publish, the guidance of a music copyright lawyer can be an invaluable asset in ensuring that your rights are protected.  Many artists have found their work sampled, plagiarized, or used without their permission.  A music copyright attorney can help ensure that you have the best protection possible and that you receive the credit and compensation that you deserve for the work that you created.

So, while this site will attempt to present some of the most common issues and latest developments in the world of music copyright and trademark law, if you or someone you know is involved in a creative enterprise, there is no time too soon to start talking with a music copyright lawyer.  And, if you feel that the rights of protection established by you ownership of a copyrighted work have been violated or abused, you should definitely seek out the advice of an experienced music copyright lawyer to help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation that you are due.