What Musicians Need to Know about Copyright

The world of copyrights can often be confusing and difficult to navigate. If you are a musician or songwriter, it is especially important you understand copyright laws in order to protect your work as soon as possible. With all of the downloading and sampling going on with music these days, you don’t want to take a chance that someone else will claim credit for your work.

Here are some tips to keep in mind to protect your musical work:

Copyright Immediately
According to the US Copyright Office, copyright protection begins as soon as musicians record an opening riff or put lyrics down on paper. Do not wait until your music is performed for the public; take the time to get your copyright now to make sure your creation stays your own. Your work does not have to be published to obtain a copyright.

Rights for Use
Copyright protection will also give the musician or songwriter the opportunity to establish the rights for how the work can be used.  This includes rights to sell the work, perform the piece, adapt the music or license it for others to use.

Get all the Copyrights Necessary
Sound recordings and compositions each need their own copyright. Don’t forget to copyright each one or your work could be jeopardized.

Transferring a Copyright
It is important to know that you can also buy and sell copyrights to musical works. Maybe someone has a composition that would be integral to your piece that you could buy the copyright for.  Perhaps you copyrighted your work and could gain more by selling it to someone else. A copyright holds more value than just protection.

Copyrights Last Longer Than You
A copyright is good for 70 years from your date of death. Your heirs will still be able to collect on usage of your work, long after you are gone. After copyright protection expires, songs go into the public domain and people may use your music as they wish.

Register with the US Copyright Office
Copyright is formed when you create your work, but you will need to register it with the US Copyright Office in order to have legal protection. A registered copyright allows musicians and other artists and creators to sue anyone who may infringe upon their creation, claim damages and control how their work is used and distributed.

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