Recording and Composition Side Copyrights

The difference between recording and composition side copyrights in the USA.

  1. There is a copyright for the Sound Recording. Represented by the circled letter P.
    • Known as the Master Side -or- Recording Side copyright.
    • Simply protects the recording of the song.
  2. There is a copyright for the Musical Work. Represented by the © symbol.
    • Known as the Publishing Side copyright.
    • Protects the composition of a musical piece. (its sheet music)

Example: If your band has a song you like a lot. You record it once, but then re-record the song note-for-note for your next album. Now your band owns a total of three copyrights for that song. One recording side copyright for each final recording, and one composition side copyright for the composition.

The Sound Recording copyright became law in 1978, the sound recording copyright responded to confusion from performing artists writing their own songs. America is the only country that awards a copyright to both the songwriter and the publisher.

Both Master Side copyright and the Publishing Side copyright are protected. Here is a short guide on the protections afforded by each copyright.

The Master Side’s copyright law protects it’s owner by ensuring the owner this exclusive bundle of rights:

  1. The exclusive right to reproduce the work
  2. The exclusive right to create derivatives of the work
  3. The exclusive right to distribute the work
  4. The exclusive right to publicly perform the audio itself, like with digital radio
  5. The exclusive right to license the rights to a third party
  6. The term “All rights reserved” is all about these legal rights.

    On the other hand, the Publishing Side copyright laws protect the Musical Copyright owner the following rights:

    1. The exclusive right to produce and reproduce sheet music, and mechanical reproduction
    2. The exclusive right to arrange a medley, change lyrics, and remix a work
    3. The exclusive right to perform a work publicly, and all public performances (radio, TV, theaters)
    4. The exclusive right to grant a sync license to a third party
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