Should You Be Concerned About Music Copyright Laws ?
And who doesn’t want to win a Grammy award someday for best original song, or best album, or best new artist for that matter?
Make Sure You Know Who Has Rights to the Song!
Since you are starting out as a vocalist, should you be worried about music copyright laws or is that just something for top professionals? I’m not a lawyer, but ..
Hold On — Better Learn About The Music Copyright Law First
For those of us brand-new in this business, there is much to learn about music copyright law. Now that I’m trying to write my own songs, I guess there’s no better time to get an education about the ins and out of this rather nebulous arena.
How Do Music Copyright Laws Affect You As A Singer Or Musician?
Who owns the copyright? These tips will help to understand some of the laws about music. Learning when and where copyright laws for songs goes into effect is the place to start.
It’s not enough just to find a song you like, record it, and forget it. Someone else might still own it!
You Can Use Happy Birthday With No Problem
Since the first writing I did was just penning new tunes to two- and three-hundred year old hymns at church, I didn’t really have much to worry about.
I was using lyrics that were public domain (sort of like “Happy Birthday” — when it’s public domain, you can sing someone else’s tunes or lyrics without winding up in jail), so I didn’t have to worry about protected rights.
One Answer Is To Rummage Through The Public Domain
Using these types of songs and lyrics is the way to go for beginners, but I’ve advanced beyond that point now. I’m trying to write my own stuff, and I don’t want someone else getting credit for it, which is why I needed to find out how the copyright law for music works.
Why Have Music Copyright Laws?
These laws protect composers, publishers, and arrangers from having their work stolen or tampered with in any way.
How Long Do They Last?
In essence, United States music copyright law guarantees that the creator/owner of the original material has the exclusive rights to that material as long as they’re alive, plus 50 years.
For songs written before 1978, the time frame is 75 years. That way, the creative folks that penned their own songs and lyrics get all the credit for them, as well as any monetary gain from their sale or broadcast. It’s a really good system, if you ask me.
The Other Side Is That Your Songs Are Protected Under The Music Copyright Laws Too!
The best way to protect what you’ve written, what some call your “intellectual property,” is to register what your songs or lyrics with the appropriate government agency.
Get Legal Advice about Music Copyright Laws
A good attorney is really worth your time in this regard, even if it’s just in the capacity of advising you on how and where to start.
The Internet is full of resources and references for music copyright laws, including some well-known sites that can give you step-by-step info on safeguarding your work, all of which can be done online. And you can find attorneys who specialize in the music business (that’s where I found my lawyer).
Now, Take Pen In Hand And Protect What You’ve Written
So I’m glad that I did a little bit of homework about music copyright laws, and I’m hoping that when Steven Spielberg decides to use what I’ve written as the soundtrack for his next summer blockbuster, I’ll be ready to sit back, relax, and watch those lovely royalty checks flow right into my mailbox! Written your first song yet? There’s a course available to show you how. Read the review here ..
Filed under: Singing Tips