5 Basic Facts Every Musician Should Know About Copyright Law

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Radiohead is suing Lana Del Ray for copyright infringement. This got me thinking; both Lana Del Ray and Radiohead have the support of their respective record labels in fighting this claim; but what about musicians who don’t have this luxury; what do they need to know about copyright so that they can better protect their creative outputs from being copied? Here are my 5 KEY TAKEAWAYS that musicians need to be aware of:

1. COPYRIGHT DOES NOT REQUIRE REGISTRATION IN THE UK and most countries. Copyright effectively crystallises over a creative work as soon as it is created. So for a musician, as soon as he has penned say his lyrics he will find they are protected by copyright. Non-registration therefore saves an aspiring musician time and money; he has got protection immediately and without any application costs.

2. A MUSICIAN’S WORK WILL BE INFRINGED ONLY IF MORE THAN A SUBSTANTIAL PART OF HIS WORK IS REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION AND THE AUTHOR CAN SHOW DAMAGE AS A RESULT. This damage could be that the musician’s lyrics have been used by a famous band in their latest album which has gone on sale.

3. MUSICAL WORKS ARE PROTECTED FOR THE LIFETIME OF THE MUSICIAN PLUS AN ADDITIONAL 70 YEARS.

4. A MUSICIAN SHOULD ALWAYS MARK HIS WORK WITH THE INTERNATIONAL (c) MARK FOLLOWED BY HIS NAME AND THE YEAR OF PUBLICATION. Marking the work in this way although not obligatory will inform others of the musician’s rights in the work and that he was (possibly) the first to create it.

5. COPYRIGHT IS A FORM OF IP AND THEREFORE A MUSICIAN SHOULD LOOK TO LICENSE/SELL IT. A licensing or sales agreement will be needed for this; depending upon the quality of the work produced; a musician could earn big!

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