Music Copyrights in the Wild
What is a Copyright
A copyright is a type of intellectual property that is guaranteed by law. It gives the owner exclusive rights to make copies of a creative work. For music, there are 2 copyrights: one covers the composition / the musical work and the other covers the recording of a song.
Origin of Copyrights
Copying restrictions started out as restrictions over the copying of books. Initially, the restrictions were enforced by the Stationers' Company, a guild of printers. The stationers eventually persuaded authors, and subsequently the British Parliament, of the benefits of licensing. This led to the the Statute of Anne, which was passed by the British Parliament in 1710, as the first statute that allowed for copyrights to be regulated by the government.
Each country has its own copyright laws, but the premise is always the same, protecting intellectual property. In the United States, the first federal copyright act was passed in 1790. On a more international scale, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works was established in 1886.
Signatory countries for the Berne Convention:
Musical Copyright Creation
Write a Song
Should you decide to write a song, you automatically own the Musical Composition Copyright for the song that you wrote.
While the copyright already exists from the moment you've created the work, it is often wise to go ahead and register the copyright. In the United States, this can be done online.
For music compositions, you will also want to make sure it is registered for an International Standard Musical Work Code (ISWC). This code uniquely and accurately identifies each specific musical work. It is the standard used internationaly and across the industry, which means having your work registered with an ISWC can result in more efficient royalty collection.
You will automatically be registered for an ISWC when you use a Collection Management Organization (CMO). In the United States, the CMO's are the Performance Rights Organizations (PRO's) such as BMI, SESAC, and ASCAP. If your copyright is not yet registered when you add it to SOMRE, we will work with a PRO to make that happen.
Record a Song
If you decide to record a song, you now automatically own the Sound Recording Copyright for the song that you recorded.
While the copyright already exists from the moment you've created the recording, it is often wise to go ahead and register the copyright. In the United States, this can be done online.
For sound recordings, you will also want to make sure it is registered for an International Standard Recording Code (ISRC). It is the standard used internationaly and across the industry, which means having your recording registered with an ISRC can result in more efficient royalty collection.
If your copyright is not yet registered when you add it to SOMRE, we will register on your behalf.
Purchase a Copyright
Aside from creating a copyrighted work, you also have the option to purchase copyrights. How you go about this can vary, but here are a couple of ideas:
From the Source
If you find a copyright that you might be interested in purchasing, you can figure out who owns that copyright and then contact them directly.
There are sites that specialize in selling copyrights in an auction online. Even if you are only able to purchase part of the copyright (e.g. the performance royalties for the music composition), you can still onboard those rights to SOMRE.
Add Copyright to SOMRE
Once you have a copyright, add it to SOMRE in order to maximize the income and trade the royalties. Click here to learn more about the benefits SOMRE offers for copyright owners.