What is a “Right”?

We promise, this is not a lecture about the things they teach in law school and which no-one really understands until hours of sweating it out in the library have passed…. Nope, we’re going to keep this simple – k.i.s.s. in other words.

Remember that ‘copyright’ is merely the right to prevent copying. In Owning Copyright, we saw that if someone independently comes up with a similar song to your compostition, and did not reproduce or adapt your work, you cannot interfere with his exploitation of his work. You only have the ‘copy’ – ‘right’. Simply, this means you have the right to stop others from reproducing your work.

But what does it mean – the ‘right’ to prevent copying?

Well, the statute has provided that you, and (unless you have licensed the right to someone else) only you, can decide what happens with your song. And if someone else does something with your song for which you have not given permission, then the authorities can be approached for a court order forcing the ‘infringer’ to stop. Just what this basket of rights is will be explored in “What are these rights?”

That’s how it works – at least in civilised countries – with all statutory rights. The authorities are there to see to the enforcement of people’s rights. On this point, remember that you cannot take the law into your own hands; I mean, you can but it is a bad idea and will aonly create for you more trouble than you had in the first place! Law enforcement – which is what this is – is best left to the Government law-enforcement agencies. This includes the law courts, and in some cases, the police – yes, in certain instances, copyright infringment is a crime!!
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