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Music Copyright Question
« on: May 11th, 2005, 12:54pm »
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Here's a scenario I need help with. We'll call our songwriter/performer John.
John's intent is to become his own Music Publisher, and also starts a label.  The publisher and label are all part of a formal company he started called Widgets Company (just to pick a name), with divisions for Widget Publishing and Widget Records.
So, John writes a set of songs and sets up Widget Publishing as the Publisher. Widget Records records and prints a CD with John's songs.
Now that the CD is out John realizes he needs to submit the copyright forms. He knows that the Widget Company (Widget Records) will be the copyright holder of the actual CD (the "phonorecord"). But what about the copyright of the composition? Is that registered by John personally (who assigns it for a time to Widget Company (Widget Publishing), or is it registered by Widget Company (Widget Publishing)?  This is where I'm getting confused.
Since John owns Widget company and this is the only artist/CD so far, there is no formal agreement between him and Widget Company yet, and one can be drawn up to reflect the best way to handle this.
So, here are the options. Which does John choose:
1. File a Form SR where Widget Company owns both the composition and the physical CD recording copyrights.
2. John files a Form PA for the music composition and Widget files a Form SR for the physical CD recording.  By agreement, John would assign rights to the copyright to Widget for a time.
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Re: Music Copyright Question
« Reply #1 on: May 11th, 2005, 3:19pm »
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The short answer is, it depends.  Hope this helps.   Grin
No seriously, I would need to know more information.
(1) Is John's company a corporation or LLC, or is "Widgets Company" simply a name under which he is doing business?
(2) Who is the author of the sound recording?  Did John perform and/or produce the recording himself, or did he contract musicians or engineers to do these functions?
I can tell you that in the simplest of cases, John is the sole songwriter, performer/producer, and his company is simply a "d/b/a" that is not a separate legal entity from himself.  In that case, you can complete one Form SR to cover the music, lyrics, and sound recording (btw, refer to it as "sound recording," not "phonorecord" or "album").  John would be named as the author, and again as the owner (claimant).
However, in a lot of cases it's not that simple.
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