Published on March 4, 2014
Music Copyright: The Basics
Copyright in music is the right a creator of a piece of music has, to prevent others from using it without his/her permission
Copyright in music is also the permission a non-creator of music gets from the creator of a piece of music to use it.
How do I get the copyright to my music?
Copyright is automatic and begins at creation. All that is required for a song to enjoy copyright protection is for it to be original and exist in a fixed form
FIXED FORM means music may be written or recorded (doesn’t have to be professionally done) in music sheet, CDs, cassettes or any other storage device
ORIGINAL means the expression of the work must be unique to the owner; it doesn’t mean similar works have not been created
There is NO copyright in ideas
Copyright Registration In Nigeria, there is no official registration system for copyright. It is the requirement of countries which are signatory to the Berne Convention (Nigeria is one of such) that copyright is automatic. However, some countries like the United States require registration at the Copyright Office.
What right does the copyright owner have? There are two types of rights: Moral rights & Economic rights
Moral rights ensure that the creator of music is recognized when his work is used or reproduced. It also ensures that a piece of music is not modified in any way that may be derogatory to the reputation of the creator.
Economic rights are rights which the copyright owner can exploit for commercial benefits
Types of economic rights
Reproduction rights- the copyright owner has the right to prevent others from making copies of his music
Distribution rights - the right of the copyright owner to control the distribution of his music
Publishing rights - the right to make a song (without the sound recording) available to the public resides with the creator or someone authorized by him
Performing rights - the copyright owner has the right to determine who performs in public the music he has created
Recording rights - this covers the right to make a sound recording or a video recording of a song
Rights of Translation - the right to translate or to authorize the translation of a piece of music is solely that of the creator of the work
Broadcast and communication to the public - the owner of copyright has the right to control the broadcast of his music on radio, television and other cable stations. He also has the exclusive right to control the communication of his music to the public by means of a loudspeaker or similar devices as seen in shopping malls, banking halls, clubs, buses, aircrafts, restaurants etc.
Rights of Adaptation - the owner of copyright has the exclusive right to control the modification of his work into another work
Exploitation of the translation or adaptation-the copyright owner has the right to control the exploitation in any form of the adaption or translation of his work
Length of a copyright In musical works, copyright runs from the time of creation till 70 years after the end of the year in which the author dies. In sound recordings, copyright lasts till 50 years after the end of the year in which the recording was first made.
Ownership of a copy Vs. Owner of copyright The purchase of a piece of music or a full album does not confer on the buyer, copyright. The buyer is only entitled to enjoy the music he has bought in a private setting, anything other than this; he may be liable of infringing on the creator’s copyright
Transfer of Copyright Copyright ownership can be transferred and this must be done by a written agreement. The transfer (assignment) of copyright only affects economic rights.
This transfer could be total or partial
In partial assignment, a music author may transfer his reproduction, translation and adaptation rights to a publisher. He may also decide to split his rights between different persons
Transfer of copyright may also be granted for a period of time and for a certain territory
Transfer of copyright is serious business and should be entered into ONLY after proper legal consultations.
Limitations on copyright There are exceptions to the rules in copyright. Fair use: music is exploited without authorization of the owner and without the obligation to compensate the owner afterwards. This is obtainable in the use of such works by way of illustration for news reporting or teaching purposes. This is purely for non-profit or non-commercial purposes. Also note that playing a complete music track in a news report is not fair use.
Questions? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org OR COSONNG COSON NG COSON Nigeria COSON Nigeria www.cosonng.com
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