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Music

Subject guide for music

PIA 580: Copyright For Musicians

  "Music is such a tremendous proposition that it probably needs government supervision...I also advocate much more rigid laws so thieves may get their just desserts. There are many who enjoy glory plus financial gain's abundance, even in the millions, who should be digging ditches or sweeping the streets. Lack of proper protection causes this."

Jelly Roll Morton (third from left)
 

READ SOME COMICS, LEARN ABOUT COPYRIGHT! From the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke University (Click to Read)

 

EVERYTHING (SOME THINGS, ANYWAY) YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT COPYRIGHT, BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK! From the Music Library Association COPYRIGHT FAQ

What is Copyright?

Copyright is one of three types of laws (the others being trademarks and patents) through which congress exercises its constitutional authority "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." (U.S. Const, art. I cl.8) The exclusive rights which Congress grants under the copyright are:

  1. To reproduce a work,
  2. To prepare derivative works,
  3. To sell, rent, lease, lend, or otherwise distribute the work,
  4. To perform the work publicly,
  5. To display the work publicly, and
  6. To publicly perform a work on a sound recording via digital transmission

What Works are Protected by Copyright? 

To qualify for copyright protection, a work must satisfy two requirements: it must be original, and it must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression. The law leaves the phrase ''original works or authorship" undefined, but does list eight tangible media of expression which are included:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

How Long Does Copyright Last?

The length of copyright is normally a function of one of three variables: the date of publication, the date of creation and the death of the author. In general:

  • Copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author or, in the case of joint works, the last surviving author.
  • In the case of corporate authorship, copyright expires 95 years after the publication date.
  • In the case of unpublished works where the author's identity or date of death is not known, copyright expires 120 years after the work's creation.

Want more details? See this amazing...

CHART ILLUSTRATING THE COPYRIGHT TERM IN THE UNITED STATES  

 

WANT TO RECORD SOMEBODY ELSE'S SONG?


Check out the BMI Copyright FAQ to learn more about the different types of copyright and licenses, including the MECHANICAL and SYNCHRONIZATION licenses necessary when making recordings or films. Learn more about going to Maui in December, too. 

 

REMIX FEVER

 

LEGAL MUSIC FOR REMIXING AND SAMPLING
Creative Commons.org
ADAPTING COPYRIGHT FOR THE MASHUP GENERATION 
Peter S. Menell, University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Jan2016, Vol. 164 Issue 2 (WCU student and faculty use only)
THE LEGAL CULTURE OF APPROPRIATION ART: THE FUTURE OF COPYRIGHT IN THE REMIX AGE
Richard H. Chused, Tulane Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property. Fall 2014, Vol. 17 (WCU student and faculty use only)
COPYRIGHT CONCERNS FOR DIGITAL DJs
Noah Sutcliffe, DJ Tech Tools.com
IS IT ILLEGAL TO REMIX MUSIC?
Brett Snider, Esq, Findlaw.com
 

WHEN IS IT OK TO USE SOMETHING WITHOUT PAYING OR ASKING FOR PERMISSION? Click on Captain Copyright to Find Out!

 

 

STAIRWAY TO ... A Copyright Lawsuit


Did Led Zeppelin Really Write 'Stairway to Heaven?' The Christian Science Monitor, April 12, 2016

What does a forensic musicologist think? As Led Zeppelin Faces Copyright Charges, The Line Between Plagiarism And Homage. NPR, June 18, 2016

Zeppelin Riff on 'Stairway' Is an Original. NY Times, June 24, 2016
 

WANT MORE INFO? Check Out These Books From The Presser Music Library