A Beginners Guide to Music Copyright, Part Three


Welcome to the third and final instalment of our Beginners Guide to Music Copyright. These tips were originally shared in a Q&A with Jataneel Banerjee on our Facebook page, who is an independent label owner as well as being an Asian territory specialist for PRS for Music. Before we begin, make sure you take a read through part one and part two.

What are my rights as a copyright owner?

The rights you get on being the copyright owner are:

  • The right to reproduce (copy)
  • The right to distribute the work/copies
  • The right to public performance or communication to public
  • The right to make derivative works or adaptation of the work
  • The right to make a cinematograph work or sound recording of the work.

These are all economic rights which are the sources of income for a copyright owner.

If I am the recording engineer or producer for a song, do I own a percentage of the copyright?

The short and sweet answer is, yes you can. But, only if you can get the other stakeholders of the song to agree on sharing the copyright with you. However, you do not always need to own copyright to receive a percentage of the publishing income. You can negotiate royalties on tracks which you have worked on and are not required to own even a part of it. It all boils down to the agreement or contract that you sign with the others.

If I get commissioned to write a song for an advert, do I own the copyright?

This is determined by your contract with the advertising agency that you will have signed when agreeing to write the piece of music. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘work for hire’ where the company owns the copyright in the piece of music that they’ve hired you to write for a fee. It is always advisable to thoroughly check the agreement in place when your music is being used by a third party.

We hope you enjoyed our beginners guide to music copyright!

Make sure you keep checking our website and social media feeds to see when we are running future Q&A’s with industry experts. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.