Under the Act the first owner of copyright in a qualifying work is the author or creator of it.Qualifying works include original musical works, dramatic works, literary works and artisticworks.In the UK, copyright comes into existence when a work is created and recorded, in writingor otherwise. So a song idea in your head does not acquire copyright, and thereforecopyright protection, until the music (a musical work) and lyrics (a literary work) are writtendown, recorded onto a tape or disc, saved onto a computer, etc.
Where do you begin if you want to copyright your material? And how does the
Musicians’ Union help in that regard?
Copyright in a song
Copyright exists in each of the following elements of a song or composition:
the music, including the melody (a musical work);
the lyrics (a literary work);
the typographical arrangement of the score;
a new arrangement, or adaptation, of an existing musical work (but, as above, making an
adaptation of someone else‟s copyright work is an infringement, unless it is made with
their permission).The copyright in a song is usually, but not always, divided 50% music/melody and 50%lyrics.How copyright is to be shared between co-writers should be negotiated and agreed inwriting when the work is created to avoid argument later. The MU has a simple one pagesong-share agreement for use by members to formally agree the division of copyright in anew musical work.
How long does copyright last?
Copyright in musical and literary works, e.g. songs, compositions, lyrics and arrangements,lasts for 70 years from the end of the year in which the author dies (or where there are co-authors 70 years from the end of the year in which the last author dies). As well as the copyright in the song/composition, the following rights exist in recordedmusic: