Find the right lawyer now

Copyright Protection for Sound Recordings

Find a Local Intellectual Property Lawyer near You

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Photo of page author Adam Vukovic

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 01-06-2015 12:26 PM PST

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.