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Basic Music Licensing Rights

There are two distinct copyrights in any given musical recording:

  • C1 – Publishing Rights: The first is the copyright in the underlying composition and includes the lyrics and melody of the song. These rights are controlled by music publishers.
  • C2 – Master Recording Rights: The second copyright is the recording of the song (i.e. the actual sound that comes off of a CD, record, or MP3.) This is a separate work of creative expression, and so has its own copyright.These rights are traditionally controlled by the record labels.

There are commonly four sets of rights within each of these copyrights which have to be cleared / licensed before use:

  • R1 – Reproduction: any time a copy of the musical recording is made.
  • R2 – Communication to the Public: which includes:
    • R2a – Distribution: meaning any time a musical recording is distributed online, whether as a download stream or otherwise, and;
    • R2b – Public Performance: meaning anytime a musical recording is publicly performed whether on the radio, TV, or online eg webcasting.
  • R3 – Adaptation: any time a musical recording or the underlying composition therein is adapted, remixed, sampled, etc.
  • R4 – Synchronisation: any time a musical recording is used in conjunction with moving images, whether in the form of TV, films, advertisements, computer games, etc).

Licensing Overview

Continue to our Licensing Scenarios page for further details on Master Recording vs Publishing rights and the various licenses you will require for your music service.

The legal information given on this website is general information only and EMI accepts no liability for any actions you may take or loss or damage you incur as a result of information you have read on this site, errors or omissions. We recommend you seek independent legal advice in relation to your own specific circumstances at all times. We have the right to change the contents and information on the site at any time. We can accept no responsibility for information contained on linked sites.

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