FAQ2020-09-24T11:36:25-04:00

Frequently Asked Questions

What are copyrights?2020-09-17T12:20:04-04:00

A song consists of two types of music copyrights: composition (or musical work) and sound recording.

  • Copyrights in the song composition protects the combination of aspects like the melody, harmony, and lyrics. It provides the basic melody and establishes the fundamental character of the work. Ownership of the song composition is represented by the © symbol.
  • Copyrights in the sound recording are created each time the song composition is recorded. Each performance will be original and, when recorded, fixed in a tangible format. When identifying the rights owners in a sound recording, ownership in a particular sound recording is represented by the ℗ symbol.

A common misconception is that a copyright registration creates copyrights or establishes ownership. Copyright is inherent upon the creation of a musical work. Your song is protected by copyright law as soon as it is fixed in a tangible format whether it is a recording, tape, music sheet, etc.

Musical works and recordings are both intellectual property with their own rights and attributes ownership to a specific composition and recording. Copyrights give you exclusive rights as an owner to generate a source of revenues.

So why do people officially register their work with the copyright office of their country? 

  • A copyright registration is the best evidence you can produce of your ownership of a work. 
  • You must have a registration on file in order to take legal action against an infringer.
  • Registering your song within three months of its publication allows you to seek statutory damages for infringements that took place prior to registration

In Canada, a copyright lasts for 50 years after the author (or the last surviving author) dies. In the United States, it lasts for 70 years after the author (or the last surviving author) dies. Some exceptions apply such as Fair Dealing (in Canada) and Fair Use (in the United States). 

Note: Policies differ for every country and territory. Make sure you verify the laws that apply to you or consult a legal practitioner.

What is Fair Dealing and Fair Use? Is it the same a Public Domain?2020-06-30T05:54:42-04:00

Fair Dealing (Canada) and Fair Use (USA) is an exemption of copyright law for the use of a copyrighted work without permission or payment to the copyright owner for the purpose of criticism, news reporting/journalism, teaching, and research. More specific examples include quoting several lines of a song, poem, or play for use in a critique or review of that work; summarizing plot points or research within a news report; or reproducing small excerpts for purposes of classroom use.

When the term of copyright expires, the musical work is said to come into the “public domain” and is then available for anyone to use and copy without seeking permission from the copyright owner (the author retains no rights in the work).

Which music rights am I entitled as an owner of copyright?2020-06-27T12:21:09-04:00

Copyrights give you exclusive rights as an owner to generate a source of revenues.

For a composition, these rights include:

  • the right to control the public performance of the musical composition;
  • the right to reproduce the musical work in copies or phonorecords (physical and digital formats);
  • the right to distribute copies of the musical work to the public;
  • the right to control the making of derivatives of the copyrighted musical work;
  • the right to control the public display of the work;

For a sound recording, these rights include:

  • the right to reproduce the copyrighted sound recording;
  • the right to prepare derivatives based on the copyrighted sound recording;
  • the right to distribute phonorecords of the sound recording to the public by sale, rental, lease, or lending;
  • the right to control the public performance of the sound recording.
Which music rights generate a source of income for a musical composition?2020-07-16T13:45:40-04:00

Public Performance Rights: Every time your musical work is played or performed publicly on the radio, online, on TV, in movies, in bars and restaurants, night clubs, arenas and in a live performance (by you or anyone else), you can collect public performance royalties. Performance rights organizations (PROs) like SOCAN in Canada or ASCAP, BMI, SESAC in the United States, protect and defend your rights so you can get your royalties.

Reproduction (Mechanical) Rights: Mechanical Rights are for the mechanical reproduction of a musical work and permission to make copies of it in the form of CDs, mp3s, vinyl, etc. Every time your musical work is mechanically reproduced, you can collect mechanical royalties. Mechanical rights organizations or mechanical societies such as SOCAN Reproduction Rights, SODRAC (Canada) or Harry Fox Agency (USA) protect and defend your reproduction rights and collect your royalties for you.

Synchronization Rights: Also known as synch rights, they are for the use of a musical composition in an audio-visual work for advertising, theatrical exhibition, television or film. The synch licenses are usually negotiated with and paid directly to the copyright owner or the publisher.

Derivative Rights: These rights are for use of a musical composition in deriving a new musical work. While the Canadian Copyright Law does not provide a clear definition for derivative works, the U.S. copyright law defines it as follow: “A derivative work is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”. Popular derivative works include translations and samples. Derivative Rights are negotiated with and paid directly to the copyright owner or the publisher.

Dramatic Performance Rights: Also known as Grand Rights, they are for the use of non-dramatic work in a dramatic setting (e.g., Stageplay, Opera, or a work of Musical Theater). Grand Rights are negotiated with and paid directly to the copyright owner or the publisher.

Print Rights: Print Rights are for the printing of a musical composition in the form of sheet music, folios, band parts, and instrumental arrangements. They are also negotiated with and paid directly to the copyright owner or the publisher.

Which music rights generate a source of income for sound recordings?2020-06-30T05:42:12-04:00

Public Performance Rights:

  • In Canada, every time your master recording is played or performed publicly on the radio, online, on TV, in movies, in bars and restaurants, night clubs, arenas and in a live performance (by you or anyone else), you can collect public performance royalties with CMOs such as Re:Sound or SOPROQ.
  • In the United States, you can only collect public performance royalties on digital audio transmissions of your master recording with CMOs such as SoundExchange.

Reproduction (Mechanical) Rights: Mechanical Rights are for the mechanical reproduction of a master recording and permission to make copies of it in the form of CDs, mp3s, vinyl, etc. Every time your master recording is mechanically reproduced, you can collect mechanical royalties. These royalties are collected directly from the digital service providers (DSPs), aggregators, or labels.

Synchronization Rights: Also known as synch rights, they are for the use of a master recording in an audio-visual work for theatrical exhibition or television. Synch rights are negotiated with and paid to the copyright owners or labels.

Derivative Rights: These rights are for use of a master recording in deriving a new master recording (i.e. remixes, mashups, etc.). They are negotiated with and paid to the copyright owners or labels.

What is a collective management organization (CMO)? Is it the same as performance right organisation (PRO)?2020-06-30T05:14:01-04:00

In most cases, CMOs are not-for-profit entities. They manage music rights for authors, performers, producers and other right holders to simplify the management of those rights. Some of the services they offer:

  • monitor the use of when, where and what works are used;
  • negotiate tariffs and other conditions with users;
  • license the use of protected works on behalf of its members and of other rights holders it represents; and
  • collect the fees from users and distribute these to the rights holders.

Depending on the repertoire they represent, they can also be called: 

  • Music Licensing Companies (MLCs)
  • Mechanical Rights Organizations (MROs)
  • Performers’ Collective Management Organizations (PMOs)
  • Reproduction Rights Organizations (RROs)

source: WIPO

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