Top 5 Instances When A Musician Should Hire a Music Lawyer

August 22nd, 2014

Musicians have the unique opportunity to make a career creating great songs but those songs – and the musicians themselves – need to be protected in order to find success. A good music lawyer can help a musician protect his rights and be successful in the long run. At Creative Law Network, we know the ropes and we can help. Here are five reasons why it’s important for a musician to hire a music lawyer:

  1. Forming a Band

When a group of musicians get together to form a band they are usually combining the efforts and talents for the good of the group. But who owns what and in what amount? Does everyone own the songs or only the person(s) who write the songs? What about the recordings? And how are decisions made? What happens if one member leaves the band? Does he continue to be paid for the songs he recorded? All these questions should be answered in advance and in writing so there are no disputes down the road. A music lawyer can help you craft a band agreement to memorialize this vital relationship and plan for future success.

  1. Live PerformancesMusic-Laywer-Denver

All the details of a live performance should be agreed upon in advance and written down in a performance agreement. Musicians need to be fully aware of what they are obligated to do and what they will receive for their work when they perform. At the very least, the major points must be clear: where to play, how long to play for, who gets paid, and how much. A performance agreement also needs to be clear about what happens if a performance is cancelled. A music lawyer will prepare and/or review a performance agreement to ensure the musicians are protected and the terms are clear.

  1. Signing a contract

Contracts are part of doing business in any industry but music industry contracts can be particularly confusing. Many contracts have a lot of “fine print” and contain confusing legal language that is not easily understood.  A music lawyer should fully explain a contract, answer any questions, and revise the contract in your favor. Signing a bad contract – or just a conract that you don’t completely understand – can cause significant problems in the future.

  1. Protecting intellectual property

The rights in your songs (copyright) and in the name of your band (trademark) are valuable intellectual property. What is intellectual property? Intellectual property includes things that you can own and that have value but aren’t physical items. A musician’s intellectual property is his most valuable asset. It is what will make him money and help him be successful. But intellectual property must be protected.  A good music lawyer will help you protect your intellectual property.

  1. Using Music in Movies, Television and Videos

The use of music in movies, television and videos is a great way for musicians to make money from their work. Music can only be included in a “moving image” with the express, written consent of the owner of that music. So if a TV show wants to use your song in the show, they have to get your permission to do so, in writing. They should also pay you for this right. Your music lawyer should negotiate these deals and prepare the contracts (known as “licenses”) so that it’s very clear what is happening and what you’ll be paid. Be sure to engage a professional that knows the deal so that you get the best deal!

At Creative Law Network, we understand the importance of your work and the need to protect it. Our experienced music lawyer, Dave Ratner, knows how to navigate the legal landscape to help you be successful. Hard working musicians deserve a lawyer who knows the deal and will work hard to make it happen. That’s Creative Law Network. Contact us today for a free consultation.


What is Copyright Protection All About?

August 21st, 2014

These days, with such easy access to everything on the Internet—from movies to books to pictures—many people assume that creative works are free to be used by anyone for anything. If it is on the Internet then it’s public, right? Wrong. Finding a photo online doesn’t mean that the person who owns it wants you using it on your website or for your own purpose. You can search for new music online, but that doesn’t mean you can freely copy and play that music wherever, whenever, or however you please. So, how can you tell what works are protected by copyright?

Copyright Defined

Copyright is the term used to describe the rights given to the creator of an artistic work. Copyright ownership begins at the Copyrightmoment the work is created and put in a form people can touch, see, or hear. The moment you finish a drawing or painting, it is copyrighted. The moment you express your ideas on paper or in digital format, what you’ve written is copyrighted. The moment you write and/or record a song, it is copyrighted. Copyright covers what are traditionally thought of as artistic works, such as writings, pictures, music and sculpture, but it also covers computer programs, technical drawings, maps and databases—the unique expressions of creative minds and bodies.

Ideas cannot be copyrighted. It is only when those ideas get their unique, tangible expression that they are copyrighted. If a person takes a photo of a building or writes about the zombie apocalypse, the idea of the picture or story can’t be copyrighted, but the way those ideas are expressed is what is copyrighted and owned by the creator.

What Owning Copyright Means

What does owning a copyright mean? There are many exclusive rights that come with being the owner of a copyrighted work. Copyright owners have the exclusive right to, or to authorize others to, reproduce a work, distribute a work, publish or present a work, and prepare other works based on that work—like adapting a book into a movie. Having the “exclusive” right means that the copyright owner is the only one allowed to use or license these rights. Anyone else that uses these rights without permission is infringing – or violating – the copyright owner’s rights.

Copyright Registration

Although a creator owns a copyright as soon as the work is created, in the United States it is best for the creator to register that copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registrations are fairly inexpensive and can be submitted online. Often times, mulitiple works can be registered with one registration application and one registration fee. A copyright registration is the best proof a person can have that they own the copyright in a work. The value of that registration frequently far exceeds the cost of registration.

Copyrights are valuable and the rights granted by copyright are exclusive. So, next time you’re online and thinking of using someone else’s creative work, be sure you have the right to do so.  Just because it is online doesn’t mean you have permission to use it.

Creative Law Network has expert attorneys based in Denver, CO to guide clients through the intricacies of copyright law and help them protect their rights. For more information, visit http://creativelawnetwork.com.