Music copyrights can be confusing. To try and simplify, lets start with the basics. There are two copyrights in every musical work: the PA copyright and the SR copyright. The PA copyright is the copyright in the underlying musical composition. Notes, chords, lyrics, arrangement, etc. The SR copyright is the copyright in the specific sound recording that is created of a musical composition. Think of it like this. Bob Dylan owned the PA copyright of “All Along the Watchtower” because he wrote and arranged the song (I say owned as various PA copyrights are transferred to music publishers and that is a subject for another day.) When Jimi Hendrix or Dave Matthews recorded their famous versions of the song, Bob Dylan (&/or his publisher ) received a royalty of their sales and performance of the song as owner of the PA copyright. However, Bob Dylan does not receive any royalties based on the SR copyright, as Jimi and Dave are not using Bob Dylan’s sound recording in their newer versions of the song. They recorded their own new “sounds” and as a result, a distinct SR copyright exists for each recorded performance by the three different artists. Those copyrights are owned either by each artist themselves, or more likely their record label (who probably fronted the recording costs).
Each of these copyrights are unique and need their own individual registration with the United States Copyright Office. The protection this affords you is significant, as if someone illegally samples your song (SR Copyright) or records a new version of it (PA copyright), you have proof of ownership and can more easily assert your rights to the royalties.
Bradley Legal Group, P.A. are Intellectual Property lawyers, Entertainment lawyers and Music Lawyers servicing clients in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Nashville. We also affiliate with entertainment lawyers licensed in New York and Washington, D.C. © 2011 Bradley Legal Group, P.A.