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Copyright is a property right afforded by law that protects the original artistic expressions of creators.
A music track is made up of a number of copyright elements:
The music and lyrics are often referred to as the “music publishing” rights. The sound recording is often referred to as the “recording” right. Each separate element of a track is protected by copyright.
Copyright can be assigned to someone else.
The first owner of a sound recording is the person who undertakes the necessary arrangements for the making of the recording. This is usually the producer.
The rights in the sound recording are usually assigned by the producer to a record company. The record company may be the first owner of copyright in those sound recordings if the record company is the producer.
Music and lyrics
The first owners of copyright in the music and lyrics will be the composer who composed the music and the person who wrote the lyrics.
Publishing rights are often assigned to a music publisher, whose job is to exploit the rights in the musical compositions.
Artists have a right to control the exploitation of their performances. However, artists usually assign any rights they have in their performances to a record label.
A producer and a director own the first copyright in a music video.
Generally, record companies take an assignment or ‘buy out’ of all additional rights in a music video.
It is illegal to do any of the restricted acts above without the copyright owner’s permission.
Often, bands fail to properly organise their contractual affairs and this can, in turn, lead to disputes. If you are in any doubt as to whether you own the relevant rights in your music, then you should not upload it to Last.fm and instead seek legal advice from a music industry specialist lawyer.