Category Acquisition of music rights

Transferability of music copyright

Generally speaking, copyrights are not so easy to transfer or to sell: A composer cannot just decide to transfer the copyright of a musical work as such. This is also not possible by means of a contract. However, it is possible to grant others a right to use the work. To do this, a licence agreement is strictly necessary. This must contain the most important information about the scope of use and the remuneration.

German copyright law lasts until 70 years after the death of the author. This means that as long as the composer is alive, the copyright is his and his alone. After his death, it passes to his heirs for a total of 70 years. Only then is it considered “in the public domain”. Then anyone may perform the piece of music in public without permission or remuneration.

Do you have any other question? Make sure to fill out our contact form and we will be glad to help you!

 

Warning because of a copyright infringement

Copyright infringement? Warning!

If a piece of music is distributed, reproduced, performed or downloaded without the permission of the author, this constitutes a copyright infringement. Composers can issue a warning with the help of a lawyer and demand a cease-and-desist declaration and damages.

However, it is always recommended to contact a specialist in order to let your work of music analyzed and your legal chances proved.

 

When is your copyright infringed? What does copyright means?

For all these questions, you can contact horak. Attorneys-at-law: your legal team for music law in Germany. 

What do we have to offer? Music Law Attorneys

Music Law: What do we have to offer?

We advise artists, musicians, composers, lyricists, producers as well as media, publishing, production and distribution companies of all sizes in all matters of national and international music law. Nonetheless, we are specialist lawyers for copyright and media law.

Our music law focus also includes the following services:

  • Drafting and reviewing of contracts

Licence agreements, remuneration agreements as well as publishing agreements, edition agreements and publishing administration agreements including the drafting of contracts for the production of sound, film and data carriers

  • General media law

including publishing law, press law, internet law, music law, film law, television law and event law as well as contract drafting for film and television productions (script contracts, exploitation contracts, production agreements etc), media employment law

Management contracts, agency contracts, consultancy contracts and promotion contracts; media cooperation contracts and merchandising contracts

  • Technical protection measures

such as access control systems and copy protection systems, in particular copy protection for audio CDs, DVDs as well as film and multimedia DVDs, Blue Ray and other data carriers or cloud systems

  • Negotiations

for authors with production and distribution companies or support for the production and distribution companies

 

  • Copyright examinations

and evaluations, in particular in the sub-areas of design and art, as well as in the case of linguistic works, audio works & visual works

  • Rights examination, rights protection, rights enforcement

National and international rights management

  • Usage audits

Judicial and arbitral enforcement of all kinds of copyright claims, also in preliminary injunction proceedings and in international legal relations. Music law litigation and disputes

We are your legal team for music law located in the city center of Hannover. We are modern, flexible and have experience. Send us an email. We will get back to you. 

Composers’ rights – German Law

Is the copyright of musicians transferable?

A composer can NOT transfer the copyright of a musical work. This is also not possible by means of a contract. However, it is possible to grant others a right to use the work for particular agreed purpose. In order to do this, a licence agreement must be concluded. This latter contains the most important information about the scope of use and the remuneration.

German copyright law applies until 70 years after the death of the author. This means that as long as the composer is alive, the copyright is in its hands. After his/her death, it passes to his heirs for a total of 70 years. Only then is it considered “in the public domain”. Then anyone may perform the piece of music in public without permission or remuneration.

Attention: If publishers, record companies or performing musicians have acquired a right of exploitation beforehand, this right continues to exist!

Do you have any other questions according to this topic? Make sure to send us an e-mail. Law is our passion. Law is what we care about. Contact us. 

Plagiarism: Must Knows

Plagiarism: are cover and remixes plagiarisms? Do you need a special license to publish your cover?

If a musician wants to publish the work of another in his own interpretation or in edited form, he usually has to acquire the necessary rights first:

Cover version

A cover is a new edition of a piece of music. If lyrics and melody remain the same, musicians have to pay royalties. It does not matter if other instruments are used or if the melody is sung in a different voice pitch than in the original.

Editing

In the case of extensive changes to the melody and/or lyrics of the piece of music and if the original work is still clearly recognizable, the consent of the composer is required and a license agreement must be signed.

Remix

In a remix, the song is remixed or given new instrumentation.  Here, too, the following applies: If the original work is still recognizable, usage rights must be acquired.

Free use

If a piece of music is changed in such a way that it is hardly recognizable, it may be used without the consent of the author. This is called “free use”. In practice, however, there is hardly any free use of musical works.

Are you an artist looking for your professional music-law specialized legal team? 

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    Easy Explained: YouTube and “Unfortunately, this video is not available in Germany”

    “Unfortunately, this video is not available in Germany.”

    For German internet users, many a visit to YouTube ends in frustration. But why?

    For years, German YouTube users have often been presented with a terse notice that the desired video is not available.Google, as the owner and operator of YouTube, on the one hand, and GEMA, as the collecting society, on the other, simply could not agree on how much to pay per song played on the Internet.

    Records explain that Google wants to pay much less than GEMA would recognize as fair. On Friday the 20th April 2012, the Hamburg Regional Court ruled that the Internet portal YouTube may no longer put videos online for which GEMA, as the collecting society, claims copyright. In seven out of twelve cases, the court followed GEMA’s request.

    Specifically, the GEMA demands from YouTube that the platform operator check before publishing a video whether the clip contains music subject to licensing. YouTube categorically rejects this – it is not technically feasible. Every minute, YouTube users upload over 60 hours of videos. Users like to ignore the fact that there is a copyright law that cannot simply be undermined and that many artists do not want to do without remuneration.

    The GEMA or YouTube Disputes are no news to us. Do you have any queries about this topic? Make sure to contact us. 

    Horak. Attorneys-at-law : Your supporters in all copyright, media and music law matters.

     

    Musicians Copyrights

    Musicians Copyrights : Infos from your German Legal Team

    If you are a musician and you are willing to know a bit more about European and German Musicians Rights, the following information are for you.

    Copyright can be divided into three components: Exploitation rights, Right of use and Moral Rights.

    The exploitation/utilization rights are regulated in §§ 15 to 24 UrhG. These include the: reproduction right, distribution right, right of exhibition, and the right of communication to the public.
    These rights belong solely to the author, i.e. the composer, and cannot be transferred to other persons. Only upon the composer’s death do the exploitation rights pass to his or her heirs. However, it is possible to grant a right of use to others.

    Sections 31 to 44 UrhG regulate the rights of use of the authors. The composers may decide to grant their musical works to third parties for exploitation – e.g. record companies, publishers or musicians.

    The moral rights of an author are found in §§ 12 to 14 UrhG. A composer always has the right to be named as the author of his or her work. The author is also protected by law against distortion of the work; this means that the author’s personal interests in his/her work are endangered – e.g. in the case of deterioration or distorted representation of the work.

    Is the copyright of musicians transferable?
    A composer cannot transfer the copyright in a musical work as such. This is also not possible by means of a contract. However, it is possible to grant others a right to use the work. To do this, a licence agreement is concluded which contains the most important information about the scope of use and the remuneration.

    Are you a musician or an artist and you would like to be supported by a competent international music law firm? Contact us. We are the team you are looking for. 

    Sampling: definition and legal position

    Is sampling music legal?

    When a musician samples, he takes fragments from other people’s songs. Does he thereby violate copyright or is that freedom of art? The BGH has decided. Here an overview of the legal dispute from an article of the German https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/bgh-urheberrecht-101.html). In music, sampling refers to the process of using a part of an – already finished – sound or music recording in a new, often musical context. Nowadays, this is usually done with a hardware or software sampler, i.e., the selected sound sample is usually digitized and stored so that it can be further processed with audio programs.

    Why have they been arguing about this in court for years? A german rapper, singer and music producer thinks to this day that he was allowed to simply take the “music snippet” into his song. Legally, the issue is the conflict between artistic freedom and the rights one has as a producer of a sound carrier. These are the so-called copyrights and ancillary copyrights: “The author of a sound record has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute and make the sound carrier available to the public,” the Copyright Act states.

    What can we now expect from the BGH’s ruling? With its decision, the BGH must implement the guidelines of the ECJ judges. After hearing the case in January, it does not look like the judges in Karlsruhe will simply “wave through” the rapper´s sampling. So the question remains whether the artistic sound sequence in the song is recognizable or not. To have this clarified, the BGH could refer the case back to the Hamburg Higher Regional Court. If Pelham loses, the case could even go back to the Federal Constitutional Court. After all, he won there in 2016. Either way, the principles laid down by the courts affect the hip-hop and music scene as a whole.

    Musician, artists, writers: you know who to call. Horak Attorneys at law: your international law firm for music law.

    True or False – Music Law

    True or False – Music Law:

    Quick Check on the most Frequent Asked Questions of the internet

    Are self-composed songs automatically protected by copyright?
    German copyright law automatically protects music or sheet music and song lyrics.

    What has copyright to do with music?
    The musical work is protected under copyright law as soon as it is created, i.e. when the song is played for the first time at rehearsals or when the lyrics and melody are written down.

    Has copyright on music a period of expiration?
    Copyright on music lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. After that, the statute of limitations expires and it is considered to be in the public domain.

    Strangers are using a self-composed song without my permission. What shall I do?
    In this case, there may be a copyright infringement. It is possible to take legal action against this. Do not waste time. Contact a lawyer immediately. 

    What about YouTube? Can I download music for free and sell it online? 
    The answer is definitely NO. Illegally downloading music from YouTube and eventually selling it or using it without permission is a crime and it can be punished legally. Anyone who uploads a self-composed song on Youtube is considered to be the author. This means that the copyright law for music applies. In addition, anyone who includes other people’s music in a video may be committing a copyright infringement. Therefore, it should be checked beforehand who the author is and whether permission is necessary. A lawyer could definitely help you clarify every question you have. 

    Copyright infringement only occurs if I commercially exploit the music, right?
    NO, that is not correct. If you use pieces of music protected by copyright law and offer them for free download on your website, this is also an infringement. If unauthorised distribution takes place, it is irrelevant whether it is of a commercial nature or not.

    So, let a legal check your conditions before making the wrong move. Copyright Infringements are

    legally punishable. 

     

    “Urheberrechtsreform” – When digitalizations means a copyright-law reform

    The New Music Copyright Reform enters into force on June 7, 2021

    The law concerning the new EU copyright directives was published in the Federal Law Gazette (Bundesgesetzblatt) on June 4, 2021 and the new so-called Copyright Service Providers Act (UrhDaG), i.e. the implementation of the controversial Article 17 of the EU Directive (formerly Article 13), will then come into force on August 1, 2021.

    Background of the reform:

    As a sign of our constantly changing society, social media platforms are also in an unremitting search for the best contents. Copyright law is constantly confronted with digital changes and without a constant adaptation of our legal system would be difficult to keep the media laws contained. For this reason, a copyright reform was passed this year to meet the requirements of an increasingly digitally active knowledge society.

    The Reform:

    According to the reform, digital platforms will be held liable for copyright infringements on their channels and have to acquire the necessary licenses. Representatives of the online community must accept that there is an enforceable copyright on the Internet and this must be accepted in the future of copyright law. Authors and rights exploiters, in turn, must come to terms with the fact that the German government has defined a “minor use” that is permitted without compensation for copyrights: fifteen seconds in image and sound, 160 characters of text, and image excerpts of up to 125 kilobytes are free.

    Criticisms:

    This does not sounds like “too much”, but  just the fifteen seconds is too much in the age of Instagram and TikTok for musicians, music publishers, filmmakers and film rights holders of the free. These fifteen seconds are enough to play out the decisive scene on TikTok for instance and this has been the reason for criticism and resistance form the side of musicians and music publishers. These letters will in particular not give up really soon, even once the new copyright law has come into force.

    If you wish to know more about it, go check out the official website of the German “Bundesregierung” and if you habe questions, do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

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