Sunday, December 30, 2012

Music Business/Law Tip - "Fan Web Music Posting Issue"

If a fan wants to post someone else's music on their web or social media site, they need to be aware of the following potential infringement concerns that might be raised by the owner of the music. By making someone else's music available on their web or social media site - even if they are not selling it - the fan could still be held liable for copyright infringement because of the following factors: display of music on the site, owning the site, control of the content on the site, uploading the music to the site. Even though the fan/site is not tryihng to "profit" from someone else's music per se, having it avaiable to hear or download for free from the fan site arguably damages the true owners chance to sell it, or control how it is heard. Hence, always be careful and try to obtain permission before posting music (especially if its by a major artist that has resources). In reality a take down letter is probably the worst case scenario, but an upset owner may pursue an infringment claim. Ben McLane Esq

Monday, December 17, 2012

Music Business/Law Tips - "Copyright Recapture – 35 Year Rule"

Under the Copyright Act 203, song copyrights that were transferred to a publisher under a publishing agreement can revert back to the songwriter(s)/their heirs if the songs were created after 1/1/78. This is known as the “35 year rule”. (Songs created prior to 1/1/78 are subject to a different 56 year rule). Basically, to exercise the 35 year rule, a songwriter must give written notice to the publisher and the Copyright Office not less than 2 years and no more than 10 years from the intended “termination date” (in general, the date 35 years from when the song was created). In other words, the earliest date of notice is 25 years after the song was created for a 1978 or later song. For example, if a song was created on 1/1/78, a notice of termination can be served as early as 1/1/2003 (to be effective 1/1/2013). There is some issue about whether this statute applies if an artist signed a “work for hire” or “writer for hire” agreement. A lot of the publisher agreements have this language - it is an issue to be aware of because this is not a clearly defined area as yet. Also, if it is a joint work (co-write) one might also need the co-writer(s) to sign off on the notice. None of these cases have gone to court yet to test the statute/these issues, but 2013 is supposed to be the year a lot of these disputed cases go to court because that is 35 years from 1978 so the issue is finally ripe for many valuable copyrights. Ben McLane Esq

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Music Business/Law Tips - "Copyright v. Trademark"

COPYRIGHT [MUSIC] V. TRADEMARK [NAME] 1. Copyright Basics: a. (c) = Song/Composition b. (p) = Master/Sound recording c. Music + lyrics d. Prove date of creation 2. Trademark Basics: a. “First use” of a name b. “In commerce” c. Search availability before using d. Registration & Common Law rights Ben McLane Esq