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This is an important read for all people who either produce, remix or bootleg music. If you are caught breaking the copyright laws, then the punishments for these crimes are usually very hefty indeed. So you better get reading...

What is copyright?
Copyright is the right to copy, and belongs to the copyright holder. It protects the creation of an idea-anything from music compilations and works of art to literature, film and TV programs- that’s saved in permanent form, written on paper printed out, stored on hard drive or recorded on tape, minidisk or CD. Only the copyright holder has the right to copy the work or give permission to anyone else to copy it. The copyright also gives you the right to adapt, publish. Broadcast, show or display perform or record the work.

What do the © symbols mean and can I use them?
Yes once saves in a permanent medium, you can assert your copyright on the work and write c My Name April 2003(your name and the date it was created) on any copies of it as it affirms your music publishing copyright (of the music and lyrics) You should also write your name (p) My name March 2003 to affirm your copyright of the recording (p stands phonographic). In truth you aren’t legally required to use (p) or ©symbols, as the copyright exists as soon as the work is created and recorded. However, putting this info on your music draws people’s attention to the owner of the copyright.

Is the copyright holder the one who created the work in the first place
No in most cases it’s the person who composed the tune, but if they are an employee, of another company, that company (a record label or book publisher for example) may own the copyright. If the person has signed his copyright over to another person/company/individual, then they will own the copyright for this.

Are there different types of copyright laws
Yes In music you have copyright of the composition and copyright in any lyrics used {together called the: song; and linked to the music industry called music publishing} and copyright in the sound recording part of the industry called record labels. The term track, when used throughout in this first tutorial refers to the song and sound recording as one whole item.

Do I have to apply to get permission of my copyright
No copyright protection comes into action as soon as the work is created, as long as it meets the legal requirements. 1) The work has to be created by someone who qualifies for protection (in U.K. law this means they have to be British or resident in the U.K. or other qualifying countries. 2) The work is original. 3) The work is saved in a permanent medium.

Is it true sending a copy of my song to myself protects my song
No the copyright of a song comes into itself as soon as you’ve created it, so as soon as you put that ‘©’ information of any copies you distribute, you are affirming the copyright. The three main methods are
Leave a copy with a solicitor and get it dated, itemized receipt for it.
Leave a copy with a bank manager in a safe deposit box.
Write the ‘©’ info and date you’re recording and send it to yourself by registered post (keeping the receipt), make sure the registered post sticker is placed across the seal of the envelope. Leave the envelope unopened when it arrives, attaching the P.O. receipt and keeping it in safe place.
The only things these establish are when it was given to the bank or solicitor or posted. It does not confirm who created it or when (after all, it might be a copy of someone else’s music that you’ve written your name on). Also ensure that you created the track, such as dated Cubase/Logic files, or dated e-mails of you sending out MP3 of the track. Keep a firm record of all this information, as you never know when and where you might need to use it or bring it about.

How do I protect my own track from being sampled
You can’t stop somebody legally but you should assert clearly your copyright ownership. When you make copies of your song in physical form if you e-mail out versions of the track or put it online make sure reference to the song also includes the letters ‘©’ or (c). Then if anyone attempts to copy your tune or sample from you’re song they will know it actually belongs to someone. If they carry on and sample the song anyway, there breaching you’re copyright.

What are royalties?
If anyone has written a song and recorded it they are due pay (royalties) each time the song is performed, played or recorded by someone who doesn’t own the copyright. These royalties can be mechanical or performance.
The mechanical right is when the owner is entitled to revenue when another mechanical copy is made of the song (so if anyone wants to put together a compilation) or when it is re-recorded by another artist (with the copyright holders permission of course). Mechanical revenues are calculated by MCPS.
Whenever a track is put on CD, or put in the background of a TV or radio show of which another recording is made. MCPS works out how long the song or excerpt lasts, how many people the song will have reached and how much money will have been made from the reproduction, and then calculate revenue, which is passed out to the copyright holder. The performance right is where the copyright owner is entitled to revenue whenever their track is publicly performed or when the copy of it is publicly broadcast {with their permission}. PRS members get an amount of revenue due worked out by PRS based on how much of there track is played, how many people hear it and how much money is made from the performance. Any club, pub, radio station or venue that broadcasts or plays live gigs should be registered with PRS. That either list the exact songs played in a gig/ concert or radio show, or pay blanker fee to have a broadcast license. The calculated fee or percentage of the blanket fee is then passed on to artists registered with PRS.

If a label signs me, do they own copyright of my tracks?
It depends on what kind of contract you sign. To start with, you either own copyright of the music and lyrics {the song}, and recording (if you’ve written it and recorded it yourself) or if you own copyright of the song and the label own copyright of the recording. (If say, you’ve recorded it at there in house studios). The contract will confirm the arrangement…
They may license the copyright of you for a certain amount of time and you agree and they agree to give you a certain percentage of the royalties.
They may silence the copyright the copyright from you for a period of time and give you one fee to represent the royalties you’d receive from MCPS and/or PRS over that time.
They may agree a fee with you to buy the copyright from you outright (usually meaning that you will never own the track again)

What are MCPS and PRS?
MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) is the association that works out the mechanical royalties a copyright holder is owed when another copy is made of their song. PRS (Performing Rights Society) is the association that works out what public performance and broadcasting royalties a copyright holder is owed when their track is publicly performed.

Do I have to join MCPS and PRS to get royalties, or can I get them myself?
You can chase for royalties’ payments yourself, but this involves keeping track of anybody who has re-distributed or performed your track. MCPS will keep track of any revenue you may be owed by people reproducing your music and will even chase backdated royalties, up to six years prior. They will also help you with contacts and legal advices when you suspect someone’s used you’re track without permission. Usually MCPS members appoint MCPS as manager of their copyrights, in the U.K. at least. PRS is obviously more use if you think you’re tracks are likely to be performed, broadcast on TV or radio, but again they’ll keep track of any royalties you’re owed.

Can I use the preset sounds for a synth/sound module in a song?
Yes/ As with sample CDs when you buy a bit of gear, part of the price goes towards a license to be able to use onboard sounds in you are music. Although these have been designed and recorded by a sound programmer the manufacturer will have paid them fee that includes a license to distribute there sounds, so the onboard sounds are free to be used and tweaked by you. However you cannot distribute preset sounds.

Can I sample the demo tune off my synth/keyboard/workstation
No it usually says, somewhere in the manual, whom the tune is written by with his copyright details, If you’re really want to use the demo, contact the manufacturer direct to find out how to contact the demo composer to get permission.

Can I use samples from sample CDs in my track that im going to send out?
The answer is both yes & no Normally when you buy a commercial sampled CD, the copyright holder grants you a license to use the sounds in your own tracks, whether there for personal use or on a track that’ll be singed and distributed. It’s always worth checking out with the sample CD Company they may request you put in a credit. However make sure you read the small print as some sample CD companies request you seek additional permission for samples that are on your track for release.

Can you sample less than 5 seconds of a track and use it without getting sued?
No That’s an urban myth. However short a sample is-whether it’s a tiny stab or vocal snippet-if you use it without permission (whether you’re copying or re-distributing etc. the whole or small part of someone else’s tune) you are illegally infringing the copyright of the song (music and lyrics) and of the recording.

Can 5 seconds or even 1 second of a track be classed as a substantial part?
Yes Although you may think it may be a through away sample or loop it can be provided in court that the role this plays is substantial (it can be a riff or just a reconcilable beat} then you’ll be infringing copyright.

If im only sending out under 500 copies of my track pressed do I need to clear the sample in it?
Yes Whether you’re sending out 1 copy or 100,000 copies, if you use a sample from someone else’s work without their permission, you could be infringing their copyright ownership. If you know your track has used a sample from someone else’s work get permission first.

If I put out a track a couple of years ago with an illegal sample on it and have not heard anything since, have I got away with it?
No A copyright holder has six years from the date of infringement to sue you, so you’re not safe yet, and nor would we recommend you did the act in the first place.

If I want to use a bit of someone else’s track, but I don’t want to pay the copyright, can I re-arrange and perform the track myself?
No While the recording of the song is protected under the copyright law so is the actual music of the song. Even if you where to arrange the track for full orchestra or for Kazoo and Banjo without permission, you are still infringing copyright. You’d have to seek permission to reuse and rearrange the track from the person or company who owns the copyright.

Can I sample an illegal drum loop and then mangle it enough, so that no one will recognize it?
No The actual lifting of a drum loop in the first place is infringement in the first place. Even if you alter the hits, or affect the sounds you’re still using the sample. Use something from a copyright free sample CD that sounds similar.

So if the composer died 70 years ago, then I can sample any piece of classical music?
No Even if the composer and any collaborators have been dead for 70 years, the recording you’re sampling from is protected by a copyright that lasts for 50 years. So if you’re sampling from a Mozart symphony, recorded by the Berlin Phil harmonica in 1992, you’re breaching the copyright of the recording. So unless the recording is over 50 years old, the only thing you can do is perform the piece of music yourself or re-record it on the same or different instruments.

Does copyright ever run out?
Copyright lasts for 70 years from the end of the year the creator died or from the first time the work was first made public, so you can copy, perform or broadcast the work etc.. If you’re sure the copyright is surpassed.

Is it true that the music from films/TV is copyright, but the dialogue is free to be used?
No The actual dialogue is literary work, and has copyright protection. The film itself also has copyright protection as a film. So sampling speech from a film would be infringing copyright of both the words and the film. So if you decide to take samples from a film or tv show to use in a production then its possible that you are breaching copyright.

So can I get someone else to say the words?
No The words are from the script, which has the same copyright as the book. So even if you were to recite the words yourself, you’d still be infringing the copyright of the author of the words. You need permission to use the words from the copyright owner.

Is it true that tracks distributed on the net are copyright free?
No Wherever a track is distributed (whether online or in a shop), copyright law protects it, and both the song and the recording of the song belong to someone who will be entitled to sue you for copyright infringement if you sample their track. Some artists may put their music on the Net to download and listen to, but they still hold the copyright.

Is it all right to put artist’s songs online to download?
No When you buy a CD or record, you pay for the right to listen to it and play it in terms of personal use. However, it is unlawful to copy it to you’re hard drive and also unlawful to distribute it to other people to listen to or download, unless you have permission from the copyright holder to distribute the music. Napster found that out.

Can Djs play anything in live sets without seeking permission from the copyright holders?
Yes As long as the venues that Djs play at hold a PRS license, then no extra permission needs to be sorted. Nice one ;)

If a DJ wants to remix somebody else’s track, do they need to seek permission?
Yes If you want to remix a track, you’ll need permission from all the copyright holders. Even if you just want to use an acapella or one drum break from the original in your remix, you’ll need permission first.

How do I get permission for a sample in an track?
It depends on how much effort you want to make. If you fancy doing the legwork get in touch with any contacts on CD or record sleeve (composer, record label, music publishers, artists etc.) If these avenues are too tricky (or non existent), there are people who will do the work for you (and come up with results). Do a sample for copyright clearance or sample clearance on the net. You can also contact companies who represent artists and record labels, such as MCPS and BPI (British Phonographic Industry), who will be able to track down certain artists and owners and recordings.

If I know DJs are playing my tune in a club can I earn royalties from this?
Yes If you’re signed to PRS, you can claim performance royalties for each time you’re track is performed or played.

Is it true that only 5% of attempts to clear samples are successful?
No Despite the fact that it is illegal to sample or re-record tracks without permission, once you approach the copyright owner you will find that usually grant usage. Think about it for a second… If you’re track makes it big, every time it gets played on radio they get royalties payments and there not going to turn that down in a hurry.

Is it worth bothering to clear samples that I want to use?
Yes as stated in previous questions, copyright owners are often keen for their track to be reused or redistributed as this means at best royalty payments for them and the worst renewed interest in there music.

What’s the difference between remixes and a bootlegs?
Generally speaking a remix is an arrangement of a track, where as a bootleg is where a large chunk of or even the full track is used in random with chunks (drum loops, vocals etc.), of another. You need permission of the copyright owners to use the samples or the whole of their track is your version. However, some artist do the bootleg first, make the money, then clear copyright after.

What is a trademark and its meanings?
A trade is any specific name or logo used to distinguish someone’s goods or services from someone else’s. This means you are the only person entitled to use that trademark in relation to the goods or services you are supplying. So, for instance, the ivibes logo is a registered trademark, so anyone calling himself or herself ivibes or using the logo without permission is in breech of the trademark laws. Some bands trademark their name and/or logo so that other people cannot create a racket selling merchandise with their name on. In the U.K. a trademark can be registered with the Trademark Registry, in which in which case you can use the (x) symbol. If it is unregistered, you can use the TM symbol which shows people you are claiming trademark rights with that name.

Thanks to the multiple resources used for this tutorial.
Future Music
Computer Music
The Production Encyclopeida

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