Course Descriptions

Basic Course 3-8 hours

The basic course is offered using either The Beatles or Eagles career as a case study, including an hour of ethics.

The basic course is meant to give attendees an overview of music copyright law concepts, but drilling down when necessary to discuss the sources of revenue songs can generate and other pertinent areas.

Introduction to Music Copyright Law covers the basics of music copyright law, including how to establish and register a copyright for your music, and what is a copyright and how to get one. Attendees will also explore the exclusive rights you get when you have a copyright and what those basic rights mean under federal law. We’ll explore how the music industry has changed over the years and how that affects the law. All the while, we listen to music and audio clips to elaborate on the law.

We will also focus on some of the most famous copyright cases and listen to the songs in question. Webinar attendees can listen on their own computer during the class. We will also explore some current copyright cases in the news. You will learn the basic rules regarding proving a copyright infringement case, along with defenses such as fair use, and damages in a copyright action.

Lastly, we will delve into future issues of music streaming, sampling. The course will also explore user-generated content; performing rights organizations role in music; and, the future of copyright lawsuits ad how songs are built could lead to future controversies.

Ethics Portion of Course

The ethics portion of the Music Copyright CLE focuses in on the unique issues faced when representing an organization. The presenter has first-hand experience in this area as a former General Counsel to a company. The one-hour ethics portion focuses even more particularly on representing a band or artist and uses the final few years of The Beatles or The Eagles as a case study. Specific emphasis is placed on the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) 1.7 (conflict of interest—current client); 1.13 (Organization as a client); 1.14 (Client with Diminished Capacity); and 2.1 (Role as Advocate). Further, we review the ethical issues in the “My Sweet Lord” copyright infringement case.

Courses offered and Lengths:

Introduction to Music Copyright Law and Cases: 3-8 hours

Intro to Music Copyright Law Through a Song: The Story of “Hallelujah” 3-5 hours

The Exclusive Rights you Get with a Copyright 2-3 hours

This course focuses on the rights any songwriter gets under Federal law once they write a song, such as reproduction, distribution, public performance, digital distribution, derivatives, and public display. We will focus on the multiple revenue streams that songs generate and how musicians can take advantage of those. Further, we will discuss how each right affects each particular copyright in a song. Particular emphasis is focused on mechanical royalties, performance royalties, licensing, and publishing.

The Top 10 Music Copyright Cases of All Time 1-2 hours

A review of the legal standards in copyright cases, defenses, and potential damages before moving on the countdown of the Top Ten Music Copyright Cases of All-Time from George Harrison to Sam Smith; from Led Zeppelin to Robin Thicke; from John Fogarty to Coldplay.

The Two Copyrights in a Song: The looming battle over Sound Recordings 1-2 hours

An in-depth look at the two copyrights in a song and the looming battle over termination rights and why it’s important to own both copyrights if you’re a musician. This more advanced course examines whether sound recordings constitute “works-made-for-hire” and the issue surrounding that.

How Songs Are Built and Copyright Infringement Cases 1-2 hours

This course discusses how songs are built (and why they all seem to sound alike) and how this effects music copyright standards and cases. We will listen to lots of examples of songs sounding alike and common ways songs are written.

Introduction to Music Copyright Concepts 1 hour

This course focuses on basic music copyright concepts such as record labels, the two “worlds” of music, and music publishing. We will discuss the origins of copyright law, why have copyrights and what is a copyright. We will focus on registering your work and why it is important to do so, along with step-by-step instructions on how to fill out the proper forms.

Music Sampling, Derivative Works in a Digital Age 1-2 hours

With the increasing prevalence of sampling in pop music, hip hop, and DJ culture, what are the legal parameters and consequences, and where does fair use fit into this growing area of law.