Working with music is an amazing and rewarding career path, but like most creative industries, it can have undesired setbacks like theft and unauthorized use of your material. Protecting your work is important.
As a music producer, you need to know the ins and outs of copyright law. This guide will sum up the basics and help familiarize you with this tedious, yet necessary, part of the music industry.
Copyrights are legal protection for music and other original creations. They allow the musician, writer, or producer to take legal action against anyone who wrongfully uses their work or claims it as their own. It ensures monetary reparations following an incident.
Copyright currently remains in effect for 70 years beyond a musician’s death; if the copyrighted piece has multiple producers, it is protected for 70 years after the death of the longest-living producer.
There are many misconceptions when it comes to copyright infringement, so it’s good to have it all understood from the beginning. For example, a common belief is that one can simply mail their work to themselves and thereby enact copyright protection. That is false.
It may be tempting in the short run to save money, but in the long run you need a legitimate copyright that will actually keep your work being your work. It costs about $35 to copyright a song, which is more than worth the security and protection it provides.
The Copyright Act of 1976
The Copyright Act of 1976 is something to become familiar with. This law explains in detail what you, as a music producer, can and can’t do. It determines to what extent you can negotiate the use of your work by someone else, the legal action that can be taken in the event of copyright infringement, and much more.
Copyright ownership rights are your shield, weapon, and can also be your “piggy bank”. Besides just taking legal action against someone who infringes on the copyright, you can also use your copyright ownership to negotiate your residual income.
Profit, Income and Royalties
People and entities wanting to publicly perform or reproduce your music will have to pay you in royalties in exchange for a license to temporarily, but legally, use your music. This is one of the main ways to profit.
Despite all the benefits of a copyright, let it be understood that copyright registration doesn’t outright equal ownership of the copyright. It can be disputed if there is a disagreement among other people who were factors in the creation of the record.
Just as you would license your work out, you always have to get a mechanical license from whoever own the song you want to work with. You can’t risk infringing on someone else’s copyright.
A producer can sign over a “sound recording copyright” in exchange for royalties. Record labels will pay for the ownership of a record in order to be able to release it themselves.
Protecting Your Work
As complex and vague as copyright law can seem, knowing the major components is a good start to entering the legalities of the music realm. You spend countless hours striving toward your vision so you would do anything to protect it, right?
Of course you would. That’s why it’s essential to take precautions so that nothing unexpected can hinder your progress, and your never-ending hustle for musical greatness.