What are the “Copyrights”?

In “What is a Right?” we had a brief look at the nature of this legal creature called a “right”.
Now when it comes to copyright, it is not difficult to think of the various ways in which, and where, your musical work can be used, or exploited.

Let’s try: live performance and recording; sure, that’s clear. What about broadcasting? They play your song on the radio, whether it’s your own version or one by someone else, that’s a ‘reproduction’ of your song, not so? (In Needletime Royalties┬áthere is advice about the remuneration stream in the broadcasting industry.)
What about publishing the song – you know, embodying it in a song sheet and then selling the song sheet, which is a form of publishing? Most of us know of the tab sites that have been closed down or emasculated because the tab versions of the song that have been posted on those sites – technically – ‘reproduce’ the musical work in a manner or form. Of course, the jury is out as to whether these steps have made any difference to the copyright owners. One school of thought is that encouraging others to play their favoured songs is a good thing for owners because if the performance rights are managed properly more revenue will be generated… Anyway, a discussion for another day, this one!
Well the copyright statutes recognize all this. In fact, they go further.
Generally, copyright in a musical work vests with the owner the following exclusive rights; ie. the right – to the exclusion of anyone else – to do, or to give permission for doing, any of the following:
* reproducing the work in any manner or form;
* publishing the work;
* performing the work in public:
* broadcasting the work;
* transmitting the work in a diffusion service (an example of this is the piped music in elevators, or in shopping malls)
* including the work in cinematograph film;
* including the work in a television broadcast;
* making an adaptation of the work; and
* doing, in relation to an adaptation of the work, and of the above acts.
Wow! That is quite a bundle of rights, you will agree? Sure thing!! Now, that’s all very well; we composers have all of these wonderful exclusive rights, but how does it pan out, practically speaking?
Another note before we go into an Example:
Owning the copyright does not mean you can force anybody to do anything.
You can just stop them reproducing your work.
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