Music and the Law for Musicians

Music law involves the legal concepts, rules, regulations, case law and legal principles which apply to the creation, production, marketing and distribution of music. The types of items considered under music law are deals, contracts, music copyright laws, agencies and rights.

Music copyright law is probably the most commonly discussed legal issue. Copyright gives the artist exclusive rights to publish, reproduce and sell his/her original musical work over a specific period of time. It is in place to protect the works from being copied. Sampling copyrighted music without permission is illegal. As regards laws on downloading music, certain activities such as peer-to-peer networks are legal, whereas others such as uploading are not.

A service mark can be used to protect a band’s name from use by other bands etc. A recording agreement allows a record company to reproduce and distribute an artist’s music.

These are just a few basic music laws. Consult your country’s legislation to find out about your local music laws and regulations, bearing in mind that the internet continues to raise issues not previously covered by music laws.

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