Songrite Copyright Information
Copyright gives the creators of a wide range of material, such as literature, art, music, sound recordings, films and broadcasts. These rights include economic rights which enable the owner to control use of their material in a number of ways, such as by;
- making copies,
- issuing copies to the public,
- performing in public,
- broadcasting and
- use on-line.
It also gives moral rights to be identified as the creator of certain kinds of material, and to object to distortion or mutilation of it. (Material protected by copyright is termed a "work".)
However, copyright does not protect ideas, or such things as names or titles.
The purpose of copyright is to allow creators to gain economic rewards for their efforts and so encourage future creativity and the development of new material which benefits us all. Copyright material is usually the result of creative skill and/or significant labour and/or investment, and without protection, it would often be very easy for others to exploit material without paying the creator.
Most uses of copyright material therefore require permission from the copyright owner. However there are exceptions to copyright, so that some minor uses may not infringe copyright.
Copyright protection is automatic as soon as there is a record in any form of the material that has been created. However, if a dispute occurs you may have to prove copyright ownership, this is where registration is of vital importance. Creators / authors can take certain steps to help prove that material is theirs but copyright registration is by far the most effective..
Who owns the rights in a work?
- In the case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, the general rule is that the author, i.e. the person who created the work, is the first owner of the economic rights under copyright. This rule also applies to commissioned works. However, where such a work is made in the course of employment, the employer is the first owner of these rights, unless an agreement to the contrary has been made with the author. In some situations two or more people may be joint authors and/or joint owners of copyright.
- In the case of a film, the principal director and the film producer are joint authors and first owners of the economic rights, and similar provisions as referred to above apply where the director is employed.
- In the case of a sound recording the author and first owner of copyright is the record producer; in the case of a broadcast, the broadcaster; and in the case of a published edition, the publisher.
Copyright is, however, a form of property which, like physical property, can be bought or sold, inherited or otherwise transferred, wholly or in part. So, some or all of the economic rights may subsequently belong to someone other than the first owner. In contrast, the moral rights accorded to authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and film directors remain with the author or director or pass to his or her heirs on death.
Using Other Peoples Work?
As well as owning copyright works yourself, you may wish to make use of someone else's copyright protected works. There are certain very specific situations where you may be permitted to do so without seeking permission from the owner.
If your use does not fall within these exceptions then you may consider buying the copyright or, as is more usually the case, obtaining a licence from the owner for your agreed use.
Locating the copyright owner can sometimes be difficult but failure to get permission may result in legal action against you.
Copyright is a type of intellectual property. Like physical property, it cannot usually be used without the owner's permission. Of course, the copyright owner may refuse to give permission for use of their work.
Like any form of property copyright can be bought, sold, transferred, inherited, and so on. If you wish to buy someone's copyright there would need to be a written, signed contract stating the transfer of right to you has taken place. This is known as an assignment.
You should note that with certain copyright material even if the creator sells the copyright in the work to you they will still have moral rights. This means that for instance the creator will still have the right to be identified as the author (providing he had claimed that right previously) and to object to any derogatory treatment of the work. Moral rights in a work can not be transferred or 'assigned' but a creator is entitled to waive that is chose not to exercise those rights. This would again have to be in writing.
Some minor uses may fall within the scope of one of the exceptions to copyright, but if you want to use a copyright work, you will usually need to approach the copyright owner and ask to purchase the actual copyright in the work or, as is more usual, negotiate a licence to cover the use you intend to make of the work.
A licence is a contract between you and the copyright owner and it is for both parties to negotiate the terms and conditions, including the payment or royalty for the use. There are no rules in copyright law governing what may be acceptable terms and conditions, but other law, particularly competition law, might be relevant to licence agreements. Sometimes copyright owners act collectively to licence certain uses and collective licensing bodies can be approached for a licence. There are many organisations that represent copyright ownersandusers.
What you Cannot Copyright.
Ideas are not protected by copyright. Copyright does extend to the form of expression used by an author in conveying or explaining his or her ideas but does not extend to the ideas themselves which become public property the moment they are disclosed.
In order to be eligible for protection under the Copyright Act, a work must contain a minimal amount of original creative authorship, be it in the literary, musical or artistic fields. Slogans, short phrases and names do not usually meet this requirement and are generally not protected under copyright legislation.
A title is used to identify a work and is not usually, in itself, protected by copyright.
Names, words, symbols or designs used in association with or to identify, goods or services are eligible for protection under the Trade-marks Act.
Works you can claim copyrights on.
Literary works, musical works, and dramatic works. Most digital media, including email, music, web pages, and graphics are also protected by copyright. Realistically, one should accept that anything someone has created and has taken the trouble to put into a tangible form is copyrighted and thus protected.
Generally registration is voluntary.
Copyright exists from the moment the work is created and fixed in a tangible form and is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device, for example a recorded work on a vinyl Disk, DVD, CD, Tape, or a copy placed on a computer hard disk or other retrievable media, lyrics or music that are written down or in a manuscript format.
You will have to register, however, if you wish to prove ownership of a song, piece of music or a lyric
An alternative and ineffective copyright system:
Some countries have no provision for registering copyrights and can offer no alternative other than the futile exercise of "Poor Man’s Copyright".
Should any of the following happen and you wish to seek redress;
You will be required to provide absolute proof of ownership which is acceptable in a court of law, unfortunately within the scope and extent of the legal world "poor man's copyright" does not provide this requisite proof of ownership and would not be acceptable as solid evidence. This alternative copyright method is deeply flawed and easily circumvented by anyone with a modicum of ability, rendering this practice useless and totally unacceptable as proof of copyright ownership.
A dispute over copyright ownership;
your work is infringed or plagiarised in part or in whole;
other copyright related misdemeanour;
Proof of copyright ownership:
A certificate of registration provides solid proof and affords the required legal evidence to support the named claimant as the registered copyright owner of the work as described upon the said certificate. (as from the date of registration). This unequivocal evidence can be used in a court of law to support your claim should a dispute or an infringement occur. We also retain backup copies of your work that are time stamped as from the date of registration.
There is no viable, affordable or easy obtainable alternative to copyright registration.
The information that you disclose to Songrite Copyright Registration Office as a member or a postal client, is stored on our servers in a password-protected, personal account. To ensure maximum security, we use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology and data encryption software, to provide secure communication over the Internet. The SSL is engaged during any interaction in which you enter personal information. All information is stored behind a secure computer firewall, a barrier that prevents outsiders from accessing our servers. Privacy:
The information contained within this site is offered as a consideration to visitors and at no time should the information be construed as legal advice; for all legal matters, we encourage our clients to seek the assistance of an attorney. The Copyright Office is not responsible for policing, or checking on registered works and their use, and cannot guarantee that the legitimacy of ownership or originality in a work registered by Songrite will never be questioned.
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