Music Copyright Laws You Should Know

There are some important things musicians should know about the business of music as they grow professionally in their music careers. Caressa Pittman of The MC Report shares some valuable points in this article, which will help musicians gain a general understanding in the area of copyright laws and how they can help to protect their musical interests as professionals in the music industry.

How are you supposed to exercise your rights as a musician when you don’t even know what they consist of? Those moments spent searching for the perfect note, the best lyric; the most beguiling melody is completely pointless if you have no clue on how to protect your creativity from theft. Are you looking to use another performer’s material? Spare yourself from legal troubles by learning some of the most important music copyright laws now. Familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the industries legal aspect, while gaining a better understanding on how to safeguard your material.

A Copyright law is a law or patent in which grants its creator the rights to ownership of the property and priority over how and if it can be duplicated. Are you looking to register your content? Do it here online at, $35.00 for electronic filing and $65.00 for paper filing. That may sound a bit pricey if you’re frugal, but in comparison to the court fees required for suing for unauthorized use of content, that’s one heck of a deal.

Copyright infringement occurs when someone has not received permission from the owner of copyrighted material. If an instance such as this occurs, The Copyright Act permits you jurisdiction to prove how the “infringer” may have had access to your content and the similarities between the two objects. The benefit of registering your material beforehand is that an attorney will be more likely to take your case if you decide to press charges.

A Music License is what you’ll need in order to duplicate another musician’s copyrighted material. This can be granted by the copyright owner (songwriter/composer) gives you legal consent directly from the copyright holder to duplicate their content with absolutely no repercussions. If you are serious about reproducing content from another musician, this would be the smartest way to go about it.

[Note: When utilizing a music license, please be advised that there is a distinction between the song itself and the actual recorded version, aka “master,” which is usually owned by the record label or the recording artist.]

The Fair Use Act allows you to use copyrighted material under specific circumstances. If you’re a teacher using the content solely for educational purposes, a music license is not needed. When copyright infringement occurs, one of the largest complaints is that the manner in which the “infringer” replicated it has devalued the original content. In order to avoid getting slammed with an infringement case, producing content that does not affect the quality of the copyrighted content can help. The Fair Use Act grants unauthorized permission to use copyrighted material under specific circumstances. One of the exceptions is that a copyright can only protect a recording or a text in writing, not any performance itself.

The duration of a copyright determines how long the purchased copyright will remain valid. So how long does copyright remain active? Ironically, that depends on when you die. Seventy years after your death is when the copyright on your song will expire.