On Demand

Demystifying Music Copyrights

1h 1m

Created on October 25, 2018




Copyright protects the tangible expression of an idea. In the context of music, there is a life cycle that involves many different individuals and businesses, from the lyricist and composer to the vocalist, recording studios and production studios. Accordingly, there are many different types of copyright registrations that may be owned by these different interests. In the licensing context, performing rights organizations manage the use of recorded music in restaurants, bars, elevators, and other physical locations.

The Music Modernization Act of 2018 has been introduced to update the licensing system, particularly the statutorily prescribed rates and fees in the online world. In the litigation context, the situation is fractured, with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, 2-1, on March 21, 2018,  affirming the district court's decision that the song Blurred Lines by Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke infringed Marvin Gaye's Got To Give It Up. In this case, the issues involved the 1909 Act and the extent of the sheet music copyright, access to Marvin Gaye's music, and how similarities between the music should be assessed. The Ninth is reviewing the jury's decision against Spirit in its lawsuit against Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. Other cases involve Taylor Swift and the protection of short phrases. Join attorney Amy B. Goldsmith as she delves into the complex world of music copyrights. 

Learning Objectives:
  1. Appreciate the many types of music copyrights and the relationships between the various parties involved in the music industry
  2. Address the function of performing rights organizations
  3. Dissect the Music Modernization Act of 2018 and the CLASSICS Act
  4. Identify how different courts analyze music infringement

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