A Guide to Music Law

To understand what music law is one needs to first define what people are encompassed in the music industry, and secondly what legal fields are covered under the “music law” category.

The main people affected by this legal field are record labels, music publishers, merchandisers, performers and artists. Moreover, music law or entertainment law as some call it is actually just a mixture of traditional legal subjects.

These include: intellectual property law, competition law, contract law, intentional torts and licensing issues.

Music law will then start with whomever is writing the lyrics or notes to a song or musical piece. The original composer of these will be the one entitled to the protection of copyright law.  Once you create a fixed work of authorship and hold a valid copyright you will then get to receive the publishing benefits.

Publishing rights is the primary source of income for people in the music industry. Music publishing is a broad field that includes developing new music, protecting music, and promoting the value of the music. Many people do not know the fact that the original artist will generally sell the rights to publish their copyrighted work to other bands that with them have to pay for each recording sold.

The government views artists that perform concerts and sell merchandise as a business. In addition to the laws above, bands that tour internationally will also face other legislation from a diverse range of jurisdictions including health and safety laws, immigration and tax laws. In the U.S. a band will actually need to obtain a legal business license to operate, which will have its own specific laws.

To make sure you are complying with all of these regulations and laws, it is important to obtain the services of an attorney as bands are categorized as many different things by the government. Writing, producing, selling and then licensing your material will obtain far more complicated laws that one could imagine.

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