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Copyright Information

Copyright Information

 

Under the United States Copyright Act found at Title 17 of the U.S. Code, creators of original materials are granted exclusive rights, generally referred to as the creator's "copyrights. Copyright protection exists from the time the work is created in a fixed, tangible form of expression. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author, or those deriving their rights through the author, can rightfully claim copyright. In the case of works made for hire, the employer, not the writer, is considered to be the author.

Registration is inexpensive and gives you significant benefits. If you think there's a meaningful possibility that you will ever want to sue someone for infringing your copyright, you should definitely register the copyright. First, you must register the copyright before you file a copyright infringement suit. Second, your registration will be evidence in court that your copyright is valid and that you own it. Third, some copyright remedies are only available for works that have been registered promptly. Finally, if your work is registered before someone infringes it, or within three months of publication, you can ask the court to award you court costs and attorneys fees. This last provision may make the difference between being able to afford to sue a copyright infringer and not being able to afford to pay a lawyer to bring the suit. Even if you are sure that you will never sue anyone for copyright infringement, registration makes sense, because it gives people who want to get permission to use your work a way to find out who the copyright owner is. In the United States, the government provides copyright protection to the authors of “original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.” This protection is available to both published and unpublished works, regardless of the nationality or domicile of the author. U.S. copyright law is derived from specific language in the constitution and exists to foster

Creativity and spur the distribution of new and original works.

One of the rights exclusive to copyright holders is the right to reproduce their works (e.g., photocopies, post to Web sites, etc.). Copyright holders also have the right to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies for sale, and to perform the work publicly, as in the case of motion pictures, videos and plays.

Copyright protection is automatic. As soon as you create a work and fix it in tangible form, copyright law protects it. You don't need to register your copyright or apply to a government office for approval. At one time, U.S. law required authors to affix a copyright notice to their works, but Congress eliminated that requirement in 1989. You may register a copyright at the US Copyright website at http://www.copyright.gov/, or you can telephone the copyright office (202-707-3000).

Copyrights in works created since 1978 will last for 70 years after the death of the work's author If the work is what the copyright law calls a "work made for hire," created by employees within the scope of their employment, the work will last for 95 years from the work's first publication or 120 years from its creation, whichever is shorter. The provisions on copyrights in works created and published before 1978 are complicated, but, as a general rule, the copyright in those works will last 95 years. Anything first published in 1923 or earlier, though, is in the public domain.

Copyright protection is free. Registering your copyright will cost $45 for each work that you register. To find out about copyright registration, visit the U.S. Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/

 

Finding out who owns the copyright in a work can be difficult. Because nobody is required to register his or her copyright or to use a copyright notice, it is not always possible to find out who owns the rights in a work. Searching the Copyright Office records is a good place to start. You can do a free online search of copyright registration records on the Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/ If you don't find a copyright registration, you can try to ask the author or the publisher of the copy of the work that you have seen. The copyright Office has published a circular on investigating the copyright status of a work. You can read a copy online at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ22.html

The legal concept of the public domain as it applies to copyright law should not be confused with the fact that a work may be publicly available, such as information found in books or periodicals, or on the Internet. The public domain comprises all those works that are either no longer protected by copyright or never were. Any content in a non-digital form that is protected by copyright will be protected in a digital form. For example, Analog musical recordings are protected by copyright as are digital musical recordings. Web sites may be protected by copyright as a single work, and also the many different embedded works that are in that Web site may be individually protected by copyright. If you would like to reuse copyrighted material in print and digital formats, you must ordinarily first obtain permission from the rights holder. You can either contact the owners of the copyrighted materials directly or obtain permission from a licensing representative such as Copyright Clearance Center. The law does not recognize a "best efforts" exception. The copyright owner may file a federal lawsuit against anyone who reproduces his or her works without permission, even in cases where the user claims the owner could not be located.

You can find a more complete copyright F.A.Q. at the United States Government Copyright Office website, http://www.copyright.gov/help/

 

 

 

 

OBTAINING COPYRIGHTS

 

 

 

Obtaining copyrights and licenses can be confusing; these steps can help you through the process.

Register all your original songs scripts, artwork etc. with the United States Copyright Office. You automatically own the rights to your creation, but registering it with the Copyright Office is the best way to prove and protect your ownership.

 

 

Songwriters may also want to affiliate and license your songs with a performing rights society, like ASCAP at http://www.ascap.com/index.html, BMI http://www.bmi.com/, or SESAC http://www.sesac.com/index.aspx to collect performance royalties for your copyrighted songs.

 

 

When your songs contain sampling. Using a portion of another artist's work on your recording is referred to as sampling. Samples can come from TV shows, movies, commercial sound bites, or music clips of any kind. A sample, regardless of the length, requires that you obtain a Master Use License to include it on your project.

 

 

When your disc or compilation includes previously released recordings. For any previously released song you wish to use, you will need permission from the owner of the master (usually a record label) in the form of a Master Use License. The owner will generally request information about the number of CDs you are making and the countries where you intend to distribute, and will often charge you a fee. If the rights to any content on your master belong to a third party, you must also submit a completed Audio Manufacturing Agreement or a contract authorizing you to reproduce the recording.

 

 

When you record a cover version of someone else's song, you need to get a mechanical license authorizing you to reproduce their composition. You can find out who owns the copyright by contacting ASCAP, http://www.ascap.com/index.html BMI, http://www.bmi.com/or SESAC. http://www.sesac.com/index.aspx Then either contact the owner directly and negotiate your own rate, or contact the Harry Fox Agency and pay the prevailing statutory rate of 9.1¢ per song up to five minutes, $1.75 per minute per song over five minutes. Applications for less than 2,500 copies can be made online at http://www.songfile.com/

 

Note: It is your responsibility to obtain a mechanical license when covering someone else’s song on your disc and to properly credit the copyright owner on your artwork.

 

 

 

 

Definitions

 

Publishing Rights:

 

Music publishing rights generally encompass the right to record, the right to perform, the right to duplicate, and the right to include the work in a new or different work. Under the umbrella of publishing rights fall the categories of mechanical rights, synchronization rights, print rights and public performance rights.

 

 

Mechanical Right

 

The right to reproduce and distribute to the public a copyrighted musical composition on phono records (which include audiotapes, compact discs and any other material object in which sounds are fixed, except those accompanying motion pictures and other audiovisual works.)

 

 

Synchronization Rights

 

The right to record a musical composition in synchronized relation to the frames or pictures in an audiovisual production, such as a motion picture, television program, television commercial, or video production is called the synchronization (for "synch") right.

 

 

Master Recording Rights or "Master Use Rights"

 

Required to reproduce and distribute a sound recording embodying the specific performance of a musical composition by a specific artist. A potential licensee who seeks to manufacture an existing recording must contact its copyright owner.

 

 

Compulsory license

 

Once the copyright owner of a musical composition authorizes the public distribution of phono records embodying the composition for the first time, anyone else may then also record that musical composition and distribute phono records of that new recording by following the procedure established by the Copyright Act which requires giving notice to the owner and paying a statutory royalty for each phono record manufactured and distributed. The compulsory license is available only for audio recordings, which are manufactured for distribution primarily to the public for private use.

 

 

Music Copyright Versus Sound Recording Copyright

 

In a recorded song, two separate and distinct intellectual properties are involved that need to be identified and understood. The first property is the music composition, itself—the words and music composed by the songwriter(s). The second property is the sound recording—the fixed embodiment of sounds resulting from the recorded performance of that musical composition. Publishing rights in a song include the right to exploit the song in any medium, and are unrelated to the identity of the performer or performers of a particular recorded version of the song. Sound or master recording rights, on the other hand, include only the rights in a particular fixed performance of a musical composition.

 

 

Performing Rights Organizations

 

License clearinghouses, which facilitate licensing and monitor compliance In the United States there are three such organizations: ASCAP http://www.ascap.com/index.html (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), BMI http://www.ascap.com/index.html (Broadcast Music, Inc.) and SESAC http://www.sesac.com/index.aspx (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers), which represent songwriters and publishers domestically and, through reciprocal arrangements with similar organizations in other countries, around the world. Performing Rights societies offer so-called "blanket" licenses of their entire catalog, licenses for a particular production or so-called "per-program" licenses, and individual licenses. A songwriter and a publisher may belong to only one performance rights society. Since music publishers may acquire music from writers affiliated with any of the above societies, they typically form separate companies to affiliate with each society.

 

 

Master Recordings

 

The term Master Recording (or “Master" for short) refers to the original, produced recording of sounds (on a tape or other storage form) from which a record company makes CD's or tapes, which it sells, to the public.