Copyright Protection for Sound Recordings
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What Rights Do You Have in a Sound Recording?
The Copyright Act of 1976, 17 USCA § 114(b), has expressly stated what rights a person has to a copyrighted sound recording. Sound recordings can include music, audio effects, or verbal narrations. Rights to copyrighted sound recordings include:
- Duplication or reproduction of a sound recording in a form that either directly or indirectly recaptures the actual sounds of the original sound recording,
- Preparing a derivative work in which the original sound recording is rearranged, remixed, or altered,
- Distributing any copies of the original sound recording, duplicates, or derivatives for a profit, and
- Conducting a public performance through the use of digital audio transmissions for a profit.
What Rights Do You Not Have in a Sound Recording?
The Copyright Act of 1976 also states what right a person does not have regarding a sound recording. Activities that do not infringe on a copyrighted sound recording include:
- Duplication of another sound recording that imitates or simulates those of the copyrighted sound recording,
- Preparing a derivative work that imitates or simulates a copyrighted sound recording,
- Distributing any copies of an imitation or simulation of a copyrighted sound recording, and
- Use by educational television or radio programs of a copyrighted sound recording.
What Do You Have to Prove for Copyright Infringement of a Sound Recording?
Copyright infringement occurs if someone encroaches on your rights as the holder of a copyright or exclusive license to a right in a copyright. In order to successfully sue another person for copyright infringement against your copyrighted sound recording, you must prove:
- You are the owner of a valid copyright or exclusive license to a right in a copyright for a sound recording. This can be achieved by a certificate of registration, or if you are not the author of the sound recording, though a chain of title that shows how you acquired a copyright or exclusive license to a right in a copyright.
- Someone else used the copyrighted sound recording without your authorization.
What Remedies Are Available?
If a lawsuit for the violation of a copyright for a sound recording is successful, then the remedy can include:
- Injunctions, meaning the violator will be ordered by a court to stop,
- Orders of seizure, meaning a court will order that any of the violator's property involved in the infringement be taken away from them,
- Monetary damages, or money coming from economic losses,
- Actual damages, usually associated with the cost of defending against copyright infringement, or
- Statutory damages, ranging from $30,000 to $150,000.
Do I Need an Attorney to Protect My Copyright Interests in a Sound Recording?
If your copyrighted sound recording has been used without your authorization, or you are being sued for copyright infringement for a sound recording, it is highly recommended that you contact an intellectual property rights attorney. They will be able to explain the issues and help defend your rights.
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Last Modified: 01-06-2015 12:26 PM PST
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