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Navigating the Maze of Music Rights

TLRPTIL Volume 51, Number 3, ISSN 8756-3894


Music copyright is one of the most complex areas of intellectual property law. To begin with, there is a copyright in notated music and a copyright in accompanying lyrics. When the piece is performed, there is a copyright in the performance that is separate and apart from the copyright in the underlying work. If a sound recording is used in connection with pictures, then a synchronization license must be obtained. If a sound recording is played on the radio, a payment for this use must be made. Although the initial decision to use music and the identification of that music is a creative process, there are legal issues that should be considered. It should be determined where the music will be used and the extent of its use. There should also be some consideration for the extent of the market. Once the scope of use and other related issues are determined, it is important to negotiate with the appropriate rights holders. Working with a skilled intellectual property lawyer throughout the creative process will aid artists in avoiding the cost of having to hire a litigator when a problem surfaces.


DuBoff, L.D. (2007). Navigating the Maze of Music Rights. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 51(3),. Retrieved September 29, 2020 from .

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