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 attorney . They will be able to explain the issues and help defend your rights.