A Beginners Guide to Music Copyright, Part Two


If you missed the Q&A over on our Facebook page with music copyright expert Jataneel Banerjee, don’t worry. We have put together a series of handy blogs with Jataneel’s top tips regarding copyright. Before delving into part two below, recap part one.

Is copyright different in lyrics and melody?

Technically yes. Copyright can be classified broadly into the following categories – Literary (L), Dramatic (D), Music (M) and Artistic (A). These are the primary form of copyright. In a song there are two sets of copyright; the words will be classified under literary copyright and the melody/musical arrangement will be music copyright. Therefore a song is a bundle of two sets of primary copyright. However when you create a song the copyright need not be registered separately.

What happens when you write a song with someone else- who owns the copyright?

When you want to determine the copyright on a song the rule of thumb is, everybody who contributes to the song are potentially going to share the copyright ownership based on mutual agreement. So, after writing a song you should sign a co-writing agreement with all the other writers & composers. This agreement will clearly state the share of copyright for each contributor. However it is quite possible to assign your part of the copyright to another contributor or the commissioner of the project. One instance where this can happen is with film production companies in India.

Do I need to be a member of a performing rights society as a copyright owner?

The very short answer is yes! It is absolutely important for you to be a member of a collection society (this is a generic name for such organisations). In every country the music copyright is licensed locally by these collection societies. They are essentially set up for the copyright owners to monitise even from the remotest area on this planet. Therefore it is crucial that you plug yourself into the collection network and receive all the monies due to you for the usage of your copyright across the globe!

Up Next: A Beginners Guide to Music Copyright, Part Three

Stay tuned for the third and final instalment of our Beginners Guide to Music Copyright.To be part of our future Q&A’s, make sure you like our Facebook page to be the first to know about our next events.