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Intellectual Property

South Africa

How to Copyright Music

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Copyright protects original musical works. Unlike patents, trademarks and designs, the rights associated with copyright rest in the author of a work once the work is created in a material form. It allows an original work to be considered a property that is owned by someone. No official form of copyright registration is necessary for music. All original music is protected by copyright from the time it is recorded / written down in some format. All you need to do is prove that you are the creator and that you own the copyright of that particular work. To prove this we suggest the following:

Present a copyright notice (stating that the work is protected under law)
a copyright notice is not required, but displaying it shows that you are aware of copyright law.

Keep supporting evidence.
The progression of the work. Early drafts, sketches, synopsis, rough recordings, etc. are all evidence that the work progressed over time, rather than being copied from elsewhere. Footprints or watermark evidence inserted into finished documents that will identify the author in some way, such as deliberate mistakes or watermarked logos.

Ensure your work is properly marked and dated.
Some people might even post or courier their own work to themselves, to record the date of creation.

Agreement between co-authors.
If your work is a joint venture, be sure who will own what rights, and what happens when someone leaves.

The author is usually regarded as the first owner of the work. However, there are exceptions to this. Literary or artistic works made by an author when employed by a newspaper, magazine or the like. In this case, authorship vests in the publisher, however, authorship vests in the author for the unused sections. If someone commissions and pays for the taking of a photograph, painting or drawing of a portrait; the making of a film or sound recording; or was created in the course of an author’s employment, the authorship vests in the employer.

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