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How To Copyright Music – Guide to Protecting Your Music

April 14, 2021 • 4 min read

There are a lot of rules involved in music copyright laws. Between legislation and contracts by distribution companies, it’s very important to do your research. After all, no one wants to have their music stolen and see their hard work not getting paid.

Even though there are a couple of organizations protecting music copyright, the wrong deal could ruin things for you or your band. Keep reading this article to get the full scoop on how to copyright music against plagiarism. We’ve created a thorough guide to help you out on this journey.

 

Why you should know how to copyright your music

When it comes to the music industry, it’s very easy to forget that your releases are not owned by the listeners. Once a song breaches into the mainstream, it’s likely that a lot of people will cover it. It’s also common that a successful body of work ends up as an inspiration for upcoming releases. Even though this is somewhat ordinary, there are boundaries that should never be crossed.

There is nothing wrong with having references or even paying homage to your favorite artists. But it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that being inspired by something shouldn’t equal intentionally copying it. In this sense, copyrighting your music is the only way to make sure you will get paid for your work in all cases.

Each country has different laws for that process – we’ll get into that later. But the one thing that remains the same is that such laws should give you rights of intellectual property over your music. It’s your legal proof that you wrote, produced or performed in that track.

You might be interested on how to copyright music in Brazil, since music market there is in constant rising. You should look for info on what is ECAD. That’s the main difference from brazillian laws to other countries. ECAD is a national agency managed by a collective of the majors PRO’s.

 

How the business works

Whenever we talk about copyright, some artists can get defensive thinking it will limit their art. When push comes to shove, this legal document does the opposite: it secures artists’ rights over their own work.

All over the world, many musicians know how to cover songs legally and have been doing that since forever. And lately, sampling music laws made it possible for artists to use excerpts from other artist’s songs in their songwriting. There’s also sync licensing, which allows for that song to be used in a video format. All that with the proper credits and royalty’s payment.

So, in the current climate one can wonder what is music plagiarism, anyway. According to a Buzzfeed article from 2015, it’s a pretty fine line. In interview, the copyright lawyer Paul Fakler clarified it can be about lyrics, rhythm or even progression.

The dispute will often not go to court. But when they do, they’ll be judged by how innovative that stretch of alleged plagiarism is. It all comes to resemblance and how unique that sound is to the “original”. Even the lawyer admits the terms here are a bit hazy and the laws can border the metaphysical.

 

Legal terms of copyrighting

White hand signing the dotted line of a contract

In the United States, the rights for copy are stated primarily by the Copyright Act of 1976. According to the law – that took effect two years later –, copyright automatically exists from the moment a song is created. You can register music with U.S. Copyright Office, but that is completely optional.

Besides comparing similarities, there also has to be an argument for access. The judge should consider if the artist being persecuted ever heard or could have heard the song they allegedly plagiarized.

 

Performing Rights Organizations

If you’re doing your research on copyrights, some questions can pop up such as “what is ASCAP” and “what is BMI”. Those are called Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) and they play a huge role in securing artist’s royalties. They make part of a trio of companies – the third one being SESAC Music – that works towards collecting license fees for musicians.

They work closely with labels and artists all around the world to make sure the money goes to the right person. PRO’s businesses are centered on issuing licenses to use the songs on TV shows, movies, nightclubs, sports games and even live performances. They are the ones making sure that everybody involved in that track will profit from each play it gets.

And in order to do that, they rely on the International Standard Recording Code (ISRC). This system works globally to register each song with a number, often called ISRC code. This is how all plays can be accounted instantly. This integrated catalogue makes the process easier and faster.

 

We can help you

Nowadays, songs are mainly played through the internet. In this context, digital music distribution became the most efficient way to reach your audience. But at the same time, a lot of artists are lost on how to release their music online without getting ripped off.

With Magroove, it’s so much easier to do that. We’ll help you release and promote your work in a complete sense. All that for free and with no extra charges. Our artists get to keep 100% royalties from all digital platforms they choose. Come and join our ever-growing community!

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