People express their thoughts and ideas, which otherwise cannot be defined by words, by using songs, often accompanied by rhythmic movements of the body or by some musical instruments. This type of communication is effective and the importance of music in people’s lives requires United States Copyright law to make greater efforts to protect artists. Musicians who inspire people with their extraordinary talent deserve protection from misuse of their songs, through licensing. Through copyright laws, the United States has developed laws that regulate music licensing.
Copyright protection relates to music in two different regards. Music is protected as a “musical work” and as a “sound recording.” Copyright protection for musical work includes protection of both the underlying music, or tune, and the words along with that. Musical work must originally be shown through harmony, rhythm, and melody. On the other hand copyright protection of music as sound recording is the interpretation or rendition of the song engineered in a phonorecord. Phonorecords are material objects such as tapes and compact discs, which embody sound recordings. Protection of sound recording extends to the particular collection of sounds on the phonorecord, but does protect neither the song nor the type of phonorecord itself. Rights in the sound recording involve the artist, producer, and record company and are determined by the contract between these parties. Musical works can also be a part of other works such as motion pictures, without losing their protection as a musical work. Thus Copyright law gives protection to different aspects of music.
There are different types of music licenses which include mechanical, synchronization, and performance licenses. Mechanical licenses have a special compulsory provision that applies to musicians. This license permits reproduction of music in forms that use a mechanical device to play sound, such as records or compact discs. Once copyright owner makes musical work available to any record manufacturer, it becomes subject to compulsory licensing provisions of Copyright Act and may be copied by others simply upon giving notice of intention and thereafter paying statutory royalty. For instance, if A composes a song and licenses B to make a recording with musicians, once B has completed and distributed, C can make his own recording of the song and distribute it to the general public. In simpler terms artists must allow other artists to make new versions of their songs on mechanical recordings.
Synchronization or “Synch” licenses provide another form of music license. These types of license allow the licensee to use a musical work in an audiovisual work such as a television show or a motion picture. Synch license permits the licensee to make copies of a musical work, but allows use of the work for the purpose of showing the work in a movie theater or broadcasting the work on television. Performance license permits music players to perform their work publicly, and such a licensee is based on the copyright owner’s exclusive right to perform the musical work. The performance right is the most important right for music publishers and songwriters. ‘Perform publicly’ means to perform a work in a public place, outside of family or a social gathering. For the purpose of copyright statute “perform” means to recite, render or play any musical work by means of any device or process.
Music licenses have certain limitations with regard to the musical work as envisioned by the artist, therefore, a moral right can help musicians to extend the lack of control they have over their works. Any person who composes his/her work even after the expiry of his/her copyright protection with regard to that work is the real owner of that work. Therefore, any person who copies that new rendition is breaching that person’s copyright and also infringing that person’s moral rights as that person must be identified as the author of the first edition since the expiry. Thus a main principle lies behind this moral right is the protection ability of artists to stop unwanted modifications or attributions to his/her work without destroying the originality of their work.