Music Law 101: What Does Copyright Law Protect?

Dec 2022

Music Law 101 is all about protecting different musical works along with sound recordings to its original creator. As copyright can be a confusing part, it is better to know what all it protects so that it becomes easy. It is known that each piece of recording has two types of copyrights.

  • First, it protects the musical composer. It indicates the arrangement and the combination of musical notes, harmonies, rhythm, chords, and the lyrics. The other name of this copyright is musical work. It deals with the musical composition of the song.
  • Second, it includes the recording of the song and known as sound recording. Here, the master or the recording of the song is protected by means of the copyright process.

However, musical copyright comes soon after completion of a sound recording, or any musical work is created. It is considered to be a satisfied one when the following elements are fulfilled.

  • The work should be an original work of the music artist
  • The work should be present in tangible form like sheet music, digital version as recording, or in the form of MIDI file.

Therefore, it is not mandatory to publish the recording work soon after it is created. With the advancement in technology, various ways have come into being. This makes storing of the songs and the files an easy one. As there are copyright protection issues pertaining to a new song recorded, it is necessary to ensure that it should be an original version of the song. This indicates that the work has been created independently with some extent of creativity in it.

According to rules, court laws stated that harmony and rhythm are something that belonged to the public domain. Whereas melody is the only ingredient that can be considered as original, and therefore, it needs to be given copyright protection. Also, the contribution of engineers handling the technical part of the sound recording along with producers should be protected, and therefore, it should come under protection rights. This apart, the musical style, idea of the music, theme need not be protected. Therefore, for the music companies and the music creators, it is important to know the details of the copyright protection so that it can help them to retain the originality of their work in this increasing popularity of the digital age of music.

How can protection rights help to handle infringement problems?

Often, the person charged for infringement action may argue that there is no copyright for the plaintiff’s work, and therefore, the song is not an original one. Here, phrases and words are considered to check the originality of the work and argument that the defendant claims. So, it should be known that phrases and words cannot be protected. The same words and phrases can be used by more than one singer to create and write music lyrics. Therefore, the law protects the musical work along with the sound recordings of the original work.

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