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January 2010
Musilogic Magazine
Volume 01
 
 
 

What is Copyright?


Copyright laws have been instituted to protect the commercial value of an artistic creation. Just as a car or refrigerator has value for the purchaser, so does a musical composition. In the case of music, a CD will provide hours of listening pleasure to the CD's owner. On a larger scale, musical compositions are part of what make people buy tickets for concerts or movies, or keep them watching TV. So music generates income for concert organizers, movie producers or TV and radio channels.

The concept of musical copyright is based on the principle that musical compositions can be treated as private property. However, since music itself is not an object like a car or refrigerator, it cannot be controlled by a single person. It must be sold, lent or leased on a "usage" basis, with the composer and/or producer usually retaining the ultimate management rights.

There are two main areas of usage, or copyright, management:

1) royalty collection
2) copyright infringement

Royalty collection is primarily handled by large organizations like ASCAP and BMI, while copyright infringement is mainly dealt with in the law courts. The problem of infringement often boils down to proof of authorship of a specific musical composition.

Musilogic, Inc. can effectively help reduce the likelihood of copyright infringement, both voluntary and involuntary, by providing tools that allow a composer to:

1) establish in a tangible medium, along with a time and date stamp, a new or unpublished composition, by uploading it to a Musilogic database;

 

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2) upload an interactive score which specifies performance characteristics of the music, like key, tempo, rhythmic underpinning, and instrumentation.

There are cases in which performing a musical composition will not require royalty payment, and this falls under the category of “fair use”. For example, usage for the purpose of discussion or educational would be “fair use” since there are no commercial finalities. However, should copyrighted material appear against the interest of the copyright holder, the publisher should promptly adhere to a request for removal of such material, provided the request is in writing from the original copyright holder or holders.

In conclusion, posting a composition to a Musilogic database, like HarmonyGrid.com, allows the author to securely establish his inalienable copyright on the composition. Any subsequent release of identical or very similar music could be contested as a copyright infringement backed up by the Musilogic timestamp.






 
 
 
 


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