Three Important Music Copyright Laws

If you are a musician or business owner that enjoys playing other artists music, then make sure you check out this list of music copyright laws to ensure that you are not breaking any laws. While you may think that your performances are playing within the rules, song owners have more rights over their work than you think. Here are is some key information that you will definitely want to know.

1) The Performance Right

Pink Floyd, Earls Court 1973Many musicians believe they have the right to perform any song, in any place, at any time. However, the right to perform songs depends on the individual song owners, not the performers. Song owners are entitled to collect royalties for all public performances of their songs. This means that performers need licenses from the song owners in order to legally be allowed to perform them.

Business owners and musicians need to be aware that they are required to pay for performance licenses if they want to play music for their customers. If your band ends up performing at a bar, restaurant or party, then you will want to ensure the venue has paid for a performance license before you play any cover songs.

2 – The Right to Make Changes to Others’ Songs

music-musical-instrument-guitar-soundsMaking changes to the lyrics or melody of a song may seem like a good way to leave your personal mark or show your unique artistic talent on a song, but you actually still need permission from song owners before changing inherent parts of the song. While there are some things that you can change, such as tempo and key, anything that alters the fundamental bones of the song requires that you get in contact with the song owners first. Keep in mind that you should be prepared to pay a fee to the song owners for the privilege of making changes to the song.

3 – Fair Use

downloadFair use is one of the tricker and most commonly misunderstood parts about copyright law. There are no hard and fast rules about what is fair use really is. In fact, the courts evaluate fair use on a case-by-case basis, weighing factors four factors to determine fair use.

The court evaluates fair use on the following criteria: whether the use is for commercial or nonprofit/educational purposes and how the use will affect the value of the original work, nature of the copyrighted work, amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Whenever you make a lot of money or gain fame and influence by borrowing someone else’s idea, there is a good chance that someone will take legal action against you. It is always best to err on the side of caution by asking for permission before making changes to someone else’s work.