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When people think of the word copyright, they often think of a written work such as a book or story. However, copyright law applies to every kind of creative work including music, so aspiring musicians should be just as aware of copyright law and how it applies to them as aspiring artists.
What is Copyright?
Copyright is the legal right to a specific work. This includes the write to reproduce it, sell it and create various versions based off of the work, such as a sequel of a movie. Copyright belongs to the person who creates the works as soon as it is contained in a written or recorded space. However, in order to gain further protection for a work and to have the right to sue someone if they infringe on your copyright, you must have your work registered.
Forms of Musical Copyright
There are two kinds of copyright within the music industry, the right to the musical composition and the right to the sound recording. The person who holds ownership to the musical composition holds the rights to the lyrics and melody of a song, but the person who holds the right to the sound recording holds the right to the song sung by a specific artist
Getting a deal from a recording studio or publishing company is exciting for new musicians, but the artists should understand the difference between contracts and how that affects their copyright on a product.
When signing a deal with a publishing company, artists agree to write compositions exclusively for that company. Often those compositions are then offered to artists to create their own recording. Artists can also sign recording contracts. In this case, the artist agrees to only make sound recordings for that record label.
How to Protect Your Work
When signing contracts make sure you understand the full terms of the agreement. If you only want to grant certain rights to a company check for any language that could give the company a reason to ask for more than you originally wanted to give. Such wording could be, including but not limited to or current or any other.
If you decide to work independent of music studios, consider registering your work with the copyright office. This will give you extra protection, and the sooner you register your work the easier it is to claim infringement and be compensated for damages. For help in registering your work or in filing for copyright infringement you may want to consider hiring a copyright attorney.
Christina Sanders writes for several blogs nationwide. To learn more about copyright law visit here.
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