01 Jan 2016

The Truth About Music Copyright and How To Protect Yourself


This week's guest blog is from Tom Hingley of the Inspiral Carpets, discussing how to copyright your music and protect your rights as a song's creator.


How To Copyright Your Music

Every piece of music (words, music and arrangement) you create has copyright automatically created the second you produce it. If you want to register your ownership of this piece of music there are several ways you can achieve this.
One way is to send a copy of the song on a cd in a sealed envelope to yourself via recorded delivery with a date stamp on it. Another way would be to register your composition with the Stationers Hall in London which costs £30 but there is a 10% discount if you are a Musicians Union member.
So you have registered your copyright...
What rights does that give you as the creator of the piece of music?
Rights in music are underpinned in various bits of legislation, the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents act clearly lays out in section 16 that as copyright owner you have the right to do the following with you piece of music.
 The 7 Legal Rights To Your Music
1) Make copies of it
2) Distribute or publish copies of it
3) Perform it in public or sanction others to do so
4) Make adaptations of it
5) Hire lend or sell these rights to another
6) The right to be identified as the author of the piece of music
7) The right to object to derogatory use of your piece of music
The act also contains two ‘moral rights’ incorporated from French law, (French law tends to be much stronger than previous UK copyright law).
Copyrights You Surrender via Social Networking Sites
When you enter into a Recording or Publishing contract or even just posting your music up on a social networking site you are basically GIVING the rights 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 over to the recording/publishing/social networking site sometime in return for royalties for the exploitation of the music, sometimes in the case of social networking sites you don’t!
3 Copyrights When You Create Music
1. The Song Copyright
This lasts for 70 years after the death of the song writer- the royalties earned can then be left to your children, partner, or a charity. You can collect Performance Royalties every time the song is played in public e.g. at concerts on the radio TV internet – these are collected by an organisation called the PRS for Music- if you have a publishing deal the PRS for Music will pay you half the royalties to you and half to your publisher. You need to become a PRS for Music member to benefit. There are also mechanical royalties payable every time the song is fixed in a format such as Vinyl, DVD, CDs, MP3, Cloud – these are collected by an organisation called the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) they collect money from anyone who fixes songs in a format and pay it back to the publisher, who in turn pays it back to the songwriter
2. Sound Recording Copyright
This belongs ‘to whoever pays for or arranged for the recording to be made’ (Harrison 2009) this lasts for 70 years after the recording was first made and initially published or distributed. An Organisation called the PPL collect royalties for performers who perform on master recordings when the music is played on Radio TV and the Internet- but you need to join the PPL in order to benefit
3. Graphic Design/Video Copyright
There is a copyright in the graphic design or the video connected with the music, which lasts for 70 years
Copyright is in one sense simple, it exists from the second you create a song, but the laws that govern it can be complicated- don’t get stitched up – get paid.
Tom Hingley © 2011-12-15
You can find out more about Tom via his website - www.tomhingley.co.uk