The face of music copyright is changing rapidly. Through the Internet, users have access to billions of songs and playlists from anywhere in the world and every time. Similarly, musicians and singers can post their latest work on social networking sites such as MySpace or YouTube. Many popular artists got their start today being discovered on MySpace rather than the traditional way of record.
A copyright is the “right to copy”. Seems simple, and it really is. But if you do not know some basic rules about music copyrights you may find yourself very surprised at who has the right to copy your work.
The right to copy your work can be exclusive. Note the word “may”. Over time, the exclusivity of this law may begin to decrease. As you will discover, it is not necessarily bad. But it is definitely wrong when the interests of what you thought was your work are distributed to different people because you do not know some basic rules of the law of copyright. It is frustrating to see this happen. The information you need about music copyrights is available and you do not have to be a lawyer to understand fully. In about 20 minutes you can find everything you will ever need to know to protect the assets of music and market your work and yourself effectively.
Your copyright is basically worthless if you do not register. Copyright exists almost immediately when you create your song. And this means immediately. As long as the song is just somewhere other than just in your head, you have a copyright. If you have something original humming into a tape recorder, scratch music on a dinner napkins, e-mail the lyrics, the song is copyrighted. It has been fixed in a tangible medium.
Chances are much of your music is stored on something. So, congratulations: You have your right to copy. Unfortunately, if you fail to register your copyright, you probably will not be entitled to enforce your rights if someone steals your work or you cannot pay the dues.
At some point in your career as a musician, you may find yourself in need of a music lawyer. Music lawyers, also known as Entertainment lawyers specialize in the field of law that deals with the entertainment industry. While many of these lawyers are also working with the laws relating to television, movies and other entertainment media, some of these lawyers are focused particularly on the field of music.
They usually deal with cases related to issues of contracts, registration issues, infringement of copyright and licensing issues. They often deal with cases for performers, publishers of music distribution companies and record labels so it is always best to make sure you research the lawyer you are considering perhaps to avoid a conflict of interest.
Music law covers a very wide range of issues. Examples where a music lawyer may be necessary include:
- If the record that you have signed with a broken the terms of your contract
- If a publishing or distribution of music offer to sell your song without your consent
- If an advertising company uses your song to advertise products without your consent
When peer network users to infringe on your copyright rights, you may be eligible for a refund your losses through the judicial system.