Thou Shalt Not Steal: A Primer on Music Licensing

James A. Johnson


June 2008

New York State Bar Association Journal, p. 23, June 2008

The copyrights and other legal rights involved in music are unique. They must be understood in order to determine when a license is required, who has the right to grant the desired license and what type of license is appropriate. There are two very different and distinct sets of copyrights in music: the rights to the musical composition (the written lyrics and accompanying music) and the rights to the sound recording of the musical composition. The sound recording is usually owned by a single record company and compositions often have complex ownership groups. Any reproduction of a musical composition or a sound recording requires the consent of the owner of that particular copyright. The intended use of a song dictates which licenses are required in the sound recording (a master use license) and the rights in the underlying composition ( a mechanical license). This article sets out helpful internet websites for music licensing, digital sampling, synchronization license, abbreviated sample provisions, performance rights societies and other legal rights.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 5

Keywords: Music Licensing, Copyrights, Copyright Infringement

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Date posted: May 5, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Johnson, James A., Thou Shalt Not Steal: A Primer on Music Licensing (June 2008). New York State Bar Association Journal, p. 23, June 2008. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1830269

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James A. Johnson (Contact Author)
Independent ( email )
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