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Copyright in the music industry

What is a work of authorship?

A work of authorship is an original spiritual creation of the author, regardless of its artistic, scientific, or other value, purpose, or content.

Copyright is a part of intellectual property law and means a right protected under the national and international regulations. A special segment of copyright protection refers to works of authorship in the music industry. Published and unpublished musical pieces may be protected by copyright. By acquiring copyrights, their holder obtains protection against copyright infringement. The copyright symbol is “©”.

What can be protected by copyright in the music industry?

A musical piece represents expression of the author through sound. Such composition can be vocal, instrumental, or vocal-instrumental. For a composition to receive the status of a work of authorship, it must be documented using a musical notation, recorded, or performed live. A completed piece which is made of melody, rhythm and harmony is called a musical composition.

A melody forms the basis of the uniqueness of a piece of music, and it can be considered a separate work of authorship. As such, it is protected by copyright and related rights.

Copyright does not exist for rhythm, but only for the musical piece as a whole. The words within the musical composition can be viewed as author’s separate literary work, but together with the composition they form one whole that represents a complete musical work of authorship.

A dramatic musical piece (e.g., a musical theatre piece or an opera) is a combination of dramatic work and musical work, and their authors may enjoy separate copyrights. In the case of an indivisible whole, their authors enjoy joint copyright as co-authors.

How long does copyright last in the music industry?

The intellectual property rights of the author last for the lifespan of the author and 70 years after the death of the author. The moral rights of authors last even after the termination of copyrights.

This duration refers to works of authorship and their legal component, and the period during which the authors can collect material compensation. For co-authors, this right is calculated 70 years from the moment of the death of the last co-author.

Copyright infringement

If the author considers that his/her copyright and related rights have been infringed, he/she has to submit a copyright certificate or other evidence of how his/her original work was infringed, and he/she has to hire a lawyer.

If it is concluded that the owner’s rights have been infringed, various remedies are available, such as injunction or seizure of all objects infringing copyrights and related rights.

A judgment on copyright and related rights infringement can bring benefits, such as compensation for actual damages and statutory damages. This solely depends on the seriousness of such infringements.

Lawyers specialized in copyrights and related rights at Mirkov Law, offer all types of services before the competent courts and organizations in the region of Southeast Europe, as well as in the territory of the Russian Federation.

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