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Music Copyright Facts

Free MusicMusic Law


Copyright Music

Registration is necessary to file an infringement claim in court.

Copyright is established as soon as a piece of music is notated on paper or recorded. You do NOT have to register with the copyright office for a song to be protected, registration is only needed if you want to file an infringement claim in court. If you register your work with the Copyright Office, you can sue in the event your work is infringed and get more money if you win.

Elements of a copyright infringement claim

only the person who owns the copyright can bring a copyright infringement
suit. Once ownership is established, it must be proved that the person infringing had access to the song in question and that their song is substantially similar to the original.

There may be Many Owners

  1. The person who owns the copyright is often the composer of the song. Sometimes a company who employed the songwriter owns the copyright.
  2. Sometimes there is more than one owner, or different owners own different sorts of rights to the same music.
  3. Owning publishing rights is different than owning the copyright to the sound recording.
  4. Owning the sound recording means owning the right to sell the actual recordings
  5. Owning the publishing rights allows you to rerecord the songs
    themselves and sell them for other purposes.


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