Many musicians and songwriters don’t like to spend a lot of time and energy worrying about the non-creative part of the music business. However, if you are a composer who hopes to make money from your music someday, you might consider protecting your musical creations by registering your songs with the United States Copyright Office.
There is no legal requirement that your work be officially registered to have a protected copyright. But if you ever get into a situation where you need to sue for infringement, registering the copyright will become necessary.
A Miami copyright attorney can explain the different ways copyright protection is afforded to your work and can help you decide if and how to formally register for copyright protection.
Protections for Copyright Owners
When you own the copyright to your work, whether or not you register for protection, you have certain rights, including:
- The right to copy, reproduce or distribute the copyrighted work. Only the copyright owner can reproduce or authorize someone else to reproduce copyrighted work. Further, if someone wants to sell, rent or share your work, they are going to need your permission first.
- The right to create derivative works. Only copyright owners can give permission for others to recast, transform or adapt their work. So, without your permission, for example, your sensitive ballad or symphonic magnum opus can’t be turned into an electronic dance music single. And if someone wants to combine your music with others’ in a mashup, they are going to have to get your okay first.
- The right to perform the work in public. You own the performance rights to your copyrighted work. That means that you, with some exceptions, must give permission to others who want to perform your work in public. This includes the rights to perform your work through digital streaming over the Internet.
Copyright Use Exceptions
There are exceptions to these rules. For instance, any published song can be covered by another artist, as long as they obtain a license (permission) and pay a licensing fee to the copyright owner play, record and/or distribute your music. Venues, such as bars and restaurants that allow musicians to play cover songs, pay a fee to a licensing company that, in turns, pays the artists.
Other exceptions concern the distribution of albums or CDs. Anyone who legally obtains a copy of the album, has the right to sell or otherwise dispose of that particular copy without permission of the copyright owner.
And some uses of copyrighted material do not infringe any of the copyright owner's exclusive rights. These “fair use” exceptions include: educational uses, comment or criticism, news reporting, and parody.
How a Miami Copyright Lawyer Can Help
Copyright law is complicated and the information provided here is just a very brief overview. It is important to understand your rights when it comes to protecting your own creations. A Miami copyright lawyer can help you determine what kind of protection is best for you and your work.