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Copyright Law and Registration
The most important area of law for Musicians For a musician’s new song or other work, copyright begin the moment the work is originally completed. In music, the melody and the lyrics are copyrighted works once it is completed by way of written on paper or stored on a computer. Copyright law protects this work even if the work is never registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Also, as important is the distinction between the composition and the sound recording. That is, the lyrics of your song and the melody when played on your instrument are two distinct copyrighted works.
Even though my work is already copyrighted without registering the work through the USPTO, should I still register my copyrighted work? YES, YOU ABSOLUTELY SHOULD! The benefits of registering your work with the USPTO cannot be overstated. Why? Because if you pursue legal action if your copyrighted work was infringed on by a third party, you can seek attorney’s fees and statutory damages against the third party ONLY IF your work is registered through the USPTO. Registering your copyright work with the USPTO is a synch. A musician can register their copyrighted work online. Registration should be done on Form-CO. This form is used for both the composition and the sound recording. The cost of filing is $35.00 for electronic filing, or if you do choose to file your copyright by hard copy,
the cost is $45.00.
Our Trademark Attorneys can protect your rights in the Entertainment Industry. A trademark is any word, phrase, logo, or design that identifies the source of goods or services. The law does not render a one of these marks a “trademark” until it is in actual use. For instance, the “Under Armor” logo or the NIKE “swoosh” is a trademark, and if a third party uses a logo that is too close and recognizable to the Under-Armor Logo or the swoosh, the third party will have infringed on the companies’ trademarks.
What about Public Notice of my trade mark?
A person who wants to claim rights to their mark as a trademark must use the term “TM” to alert the public to their claim to an unregistered mark. The creator does not have to file with the United States (USPTO) to be protected under the law for their unregistered trademarks.
I want to select a trademark for my goods. Now what?
There are four (4) categories associated with your trademark registration. They are; generic trademarks, description trademarks, suggestive trademarks, and arbitrary trademarks. Generic trademarks are not registerable because they define an entire class of goods. For instance, if you had a tire product, you cannot register a trademark for the word “tire”. Contrarily, an arbitrary trademark has no meaning association with your product. Thus, the arbitrary trademark is the best bet. Using the same example, an arbitrary trademark for your tire may be “XYZ”.
Remember to always complete a trademark search to determine whether your proposed trademark is eligible for use. USPTO’s federal records will have this information, and this is where the search should be performed. Once you register your trademark, you put the public on notice that either your trademark is in use already AND your trademark is not on the market yet, but you intend to use the trademark for commercial purposes.
Always remember to use a trade name.
Your “trade name” is the name that you hold out when in the market for commercial benefit. Your trade name can be registered with the Secretary of State, and in Maryland, The State Department of Assessments and Taxation handles all of this. Once you had your trade name registered, it takes the same legal effect as a trademark. Thus, another business cannot use a trade name that is recognizable to yours and would cause the public confusion. To navigate through the vines of trademark law and registration, you need attorneys who have experience in these fields. If you seek to register your trade mark or you feel your trade mark was infringed upon, please call use at 410-727-7555 for a private consultation.
The use of publishers and their role in protecting
or promoting your copyrighted work.
Music publishers may provide value for you because these companies goal is to promote the uses of your work, and to be used in several mediums. These mediums include television, advertising, ringtones, and even video games. The publisher generally receives a substantial percentage of the revenue generated from this exchange if the publisher locked in one of the medium’s use of your work. The publisher will also manage the sales of the composition and typically handle all the copyright registration and deposit requirements.
How long does the copyright on your work last?
A really, really, long time!
The copyright will continue to protect the composition for seventy years beyond the life of the author. If the composition is created by a corporation, the term will be ninety-five years. When the song is jointly authored, the seventy years will run from death of the last living author You want to make sure that your work, your original authorship of your lyrics and the melody is awarded the highest copyright protection. This area of law is tough to navigate. Our attorneys will consult with you and ensure your rights are fully protected. If you seek to register your new composed work or believe your copyrighted work has been infringed upon, please call us at 410-727-7555 for a private consultation.
Right of Publicity
Ensure your Publicity Rights are protected by Our firm’s right of publicity Attorneys
As musicians and public figure, your name, image, and “likeness” (“likeness” includes your moniker, voice, recognizable conduct, among other things) is protected under the law from third party exploitation of such. This area of law is called the right to publicity. The right of publicity disallows third parties from using your name, image, or “likeness” for commercial purposes without your consent.
If you believe a third party is using your name, image, or likeness, you must prove three things to have the third party stop the use and recover monetary damages from the third party. You must show:
There was unauthorized use of your name, image, or likeness by a third party;
This use by a third party was done for exploitative purposes (to gain commercial benefit; and
This use by a third party was done without your consent.
For example, let’s say I wanted to use Ray Lewis, the former Baltimore Raven Football player and future Hall of Famer, to help advertise my new football product. There is no question using Ray Lewis’s name and image would help my football product sell. Further, I sent Ray Lewis a letter to see if he would consent to me using his name or image to advertise my product. Naturally, Ray Lewis refused to give me consent to do so. Regardless of what Lewis said, I used his name and image anyway to advertise my football product…and made multiple sales with Ray Lewis’s name and image attached to my product. If Ray Lewis sought to take legal action against me, he would be successful because I violated Ray Lewis’s rights under Right of Publicity law.
You can imagine how easy if could be for a third party to violate one’s publicity rights. Our attorneys will ensure your publicity rights are forever protected. If you feel your publicity rights were exploited, please call us a 410-727-7555 to discuss your concerns in a private consultation.