Do you need to copyright music cues?

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Do you need to copyright music cues?

Post by edsweet » Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:22 pm

Just curious if music cues and other clips used as background for TV shows need to be copyrighted like full-length radio-type songs. If so, is there an efficient way to do it, like maybe copyright them as a group? Thanks so much!

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Re: Do you need to copyright music cues?

Post by Joseph » Sun Jan 25, 2015 6:39 pm

From what I understand, it's not worth registering a copyright because there is not enough money made from one single track to balance out the cost of a lawsuit. It's a little scary but basically just write the track, submit it, and forget about it. Check out the thread calle "a few quick newbie questions" in this forum. Hope it helps.

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Re: Do you need to copyright music cues?

Post by edsweet » Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:07 pm

Thanks Joseph!

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Re: Do you need to copyright music cues?

Post by shanegrla » Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:02 am

I know this is a bit late in response, but I think it actually depends on the particular type of library and contract. If it's an exclusive contract, then I think no you don't have to. Because now the library owner is the publisher and he controls the copyright.

But if it's nonexclusive -- and especially if it's a retitle library -- I think it's actually a good idea to copyright it. Because, technically you still own the publishing on it and you can still do whatever you want with it. What Joseph said is true -- about it probably not generating enough money to warrant it on a song-by-song basis, but that's why you would copyright a bunch of them all at once. It can make it worth it then, like if you copyright all the noexclusive tracks you did in the last year as a whole.

This is all assuming you aren't planning to also submit the cue to an exclusive library later. But then again, you shouldn't be submitting the same cue to both exclusive and nonexclusive libraries anyway.

That said, I've been far too lax about doing this myself, so I shouldn't be one to talk. But I really probably should get to it!

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Re: Do you need to copyright music cues?

Post by edsweet » Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:07 am

Thanks for your insights, Shane.
Ed

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Re: Do you need to copyright music cues?

Post by Brock1 » Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:12 pm

I can't speak for anyone else, but for me personally, I never copyright anything unless something is happening with the song. Cues typically don't garner much money, so they aren't a major target. If you get your songs into a library, the library becomes the publisher and they will take care of copyright for you. If you get a placement on your own, then you probably want to copyright it.

I'm slightly more concerned with songs, but not by much. Again, if you get a placement outside of a publisher, you'll want to copyright the song. But if you have a publisher, they will take care of it.

Think of it this way: Let's say you are hyper vigilant and copyright all your music. Now, a publisher wants your song. But because you already copyrighted the music, you have to go through the hassle of transferring the rights to the publisher's share to the publisher.

There is so much music out there it's doubtful anyone will rip you off. I'm not saying it can't happen. But generally, anything that is high profile and worth real money, it isn't going to happen. They have too much to lose from a lawsuit. I've never known anyone that has had a song "stolen".

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Re: Do you need to copyright music cues?

Post by Kolstad » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:18 am

You have to distinguish between a copyright and a registration of a copyright. Due to International law (The Berne Convention), your music is already copyright protected in the moment you write it (it covers most countries ww, but not all). So you already have the copyright to your music, and you are entitled to make a lawsuit and can protect your music that way. You may be able to force an offender to take your music down, ect.

You may not be able to claim compensation in a US court for the abuse of your rights, though. That may very well require you to prove the date of your copyright in more detail, and that is what a registration of your copyright does. You get the copyright office to timestamp your copyright in a trustworthy (proveable) way.

That's what I've found through my research on this. So, what you consider is not actually copyrighting, but registration of the copyrights you already own. BIG difference.

Production music may not require the registration work, due to the small amts of money involved, as you most likely wouldn't be able to recoup the expense for a lawyer. You would also probably be able to stop the use or offence of your copyright, just by claiming that you are the copyright holder. Some offenders may have servers in countries not covered by The Berne Convention, though, and in that case I don't think you can do anything, copyright registration or not. I don't know this for a fact, though.

So, this is not legal advice, by any means. I am also just a writer and producer. It's what I've found mainly by researching media (online and books), so take it for what it is. Higher levels of security comes with a much higher cost. Well versed music lawyers can be hard to find, though, and as we have seen in a recent case there's quite a few "Blurred Lines", and legal success may depend of the quality and power of the lawyer(s) you have access to.

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