As an artist, you create four main kinds of intellectual property
First, every song you write is protected by copyright. We call these the ‘song rights’ or ‘publishing rights’.
Second, every recording you make is protected by a separate copyright. We call these the ‘recording rights’ or the ‘master rights’.
Third, all the photos and illustrations you create are also protected by copyright – the ‘artistic rights’.
Fourth, your brand – so your actual name, performer name, or brand name – can be protected by a thing called trademark.
Because copyrights are automatic, artists and songwriters need to be clued up on copyright from the off. And the first consideration is copyright ownership.
By default, a song copyright is owned by whoever writes the song. By default, a recording copyright is owned by whoever arranges for the recording to take place. By default, the copyright in a photo or illustration is owned by the photographer or illustrator.
Where multiple people create a copyright-protected work together, they co-own the resulting copyright. This happens a lot with songwriting. If you co-write a song with another person, you together own the song copyright.
It’s for you as collaborators to decide how you are going to split the copyright, ie what percentage of the copyright (and any subsequent money) does each co-writer get?
It’s important to note that, although copyright law provides these default ownership rules, copyrights can also be transferred.
So, one member of a band might arrange for a recording to take place, but they might decide to share the copyright with their bandmates. Or, you might write a song, but you might sell the copyright to me in return for money. Copyright law allows such transfer – it calls it ‘assignment’. Though when copyrights are assigned, there should be a written agreement so everyone is clear on who owns what. Copyright law allows such transfer – it calls it ‘assignment’. Though when copyrights are assigned, there should be a written agreement so everyone is clear on who owns what.
Copyright provides copyright owners with certain controls over what happens to their content. There are six main controls: the reproduction control, the distribution control, rental control, the adaptation control, performance control, and communication control.
Copyright makes money whenever another person or company wants to exploit one of your copyright controls. So they want to reproduce or distribute, or rent, or adapt, or perform, or communicate one of your songs or your recordings.
Whenever that happens, they must get your permission to exploit your copyright controls. You charge for your permission (aka licensing), which is how copyright makes money. Label: Whenever that happens, they must get your permission to exploit your copyright controls. You charge for your permission (aka licensing), which is how copyright makes money.
When a copyright owner sells permission to or licenses – a third party to utilise their copyright controls, a deal needs to be done between the copyright owner and the licensee.
In the music industry, there are three main ways copyright owners license, and which method is used generally depends on what the licensee wants to do with the song or the recording.
By: Rene Immortal Matik