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What is Music Law?
What’s important to know about it?
In this article, I will break down the meaning of Music Law so you know all there is to know about it!
Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!
Let me explain to you what Music Law is and how it works!
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What Is Music Law
Music law refers to the body of laws relating to the music industry, the relationship between different stakeholders, and the protection of the musical work.
In other words, music law refers to any law, statute, or regulation that applies to individuals and companies creating, producing, performing, buying, and selling music.
You can consider music law to be a part of entertainment law representing a broader area of law.
For example, you will need to know about music law if you are looking to write a song and grant usage rights to another person.
The music industry impacts many people in society starting from those that write songs, to those that distribute them, to those that produce them, all the way to those that listen to the song.
For a person or company to use another person’s music, it’s crucial to comply with music laws to ensure that you are not violating the person’s legal rights.
Keep reading as I will further break down the meaning of music law and tell you why it matters.
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Why Is Music Law Important
Music laws govern the activities within the music industry and the different players involved such as musicians, record producers, and other parties.
Every stakeholder is looking to protect its interests on the music created, produced, performed, or otherwise licensed or sold.
As such, music laws are designed to protect those that create new music, promote it, perform the music, the artists, publishers, and everyone else within the industry.
Everyone dealing with music and operating within the music industry must be aware of applicable music laws and comply with them.
Music laws can have an impact on how contracts are drafted, music licensing, royalties, distribution of music, and so on.
Music artists, producers, promotors, executives, and anyone else engaged in the music industry should comply with music laws to avoid infringing on another party’s rights or be exposed to liability.
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What Music Law Includes
Broadly speaking, music law includes a variety of elements all related to the development of new music, the protection of music, its promotion, sale, and licensing.
The first important element of music law relates to music licensing and publishing.
A person writing a song will automatically have all legal rights associated with that song.
The author of the song can choose to personally perform the song, can grant the rights to another person to perform the song while owning the rights to the song, or fully sell the song.
Another element of music law relates to the broadcasting of music.
The broadcasting of music refers to the activities related to radio stations, television, bars, restaurants, schools, event organizers, and so on.
Music laws govern how someone can broadcast another person’s music or song.
A third important element of music laws relates to live performances.
When someone writes a song or music, it’s important that someone performs the music work.
In that context, music laws will regulate how music and songs can be performed within the industry.
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Music Law Exemptions
Music lawyers are regularly called upon to advise their clients as to their rights and obligations within the music industry.
Although in most cases you must comply with music laws, there are some exceptions.
The first exception is referred to as the Fair Use exception which is a case-by-case authorization by the court as to the use of a person’s work without a license.
For example, under the Fair Use doctrine, the courts have accepted that someone uses another’s work to criticize the work, for satire, to provide comments, to report news, for educational purposes, for academic reasons, or for other reasons.
Furthermore, the Music Licensing Act of 1997 establishes additional exemptions where small businesses, bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses can play music on the radio or TV without having a license to the music.
However, if the music is to be played by the business owner or be performed as a live performance, a license will be required from the title holder of the work.
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Areas Related To Music Law
Music law refers to the set of laws relating to the music industry governing creative works and the relationship between different stakeholders.
However, music law is closely related to other areas of the law.
As a result, a music law attorney should not only have a good grasp of the music laws but also have a good knowledge of contract law, tax law, intellectual property law, competition law, defamation law, immigration law, health and safety law, and licensing.
For example, contract law is probably one of the most important areas of the law that impacts the music industry.
A song writer will want to have the right contract with an artist, producer, or distributor of the song to ensure that the creative work is adequately protected.
Immigration law is another important area that applies to artists, performers, and other players who travel from one country to another to perform.
Those that are engaged in licensing, buying, and selling rights to music should be mindful of the applicable tax laws and how they can be impacted from a tax perspective.
In essence, to properly advise clients in music law, music law lawyers should also have a solid understanding of other areas of the law that may apply as well.
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So there you have it folks!
What does music law mean?
In a nutshell, music law refers to the body of laws and regulations applicable to the music industry.
The parties implicated are generally music publishers, artists, performers, distributors, record labels, authors, event planners, and others.
For example, a songwriter that owns the rights to a song will work with a recording artist to record the song (who will own the rights to the recording) and then with a publisher who will sell the work to the public.
Music laws are therefore designed to allow different parties having different interests to work with one another and protect their legal rights.
Now that you know what music law is all about and why it matters, good luck with your research!
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