Can Music be protected by Copyright?

Copyright protects original musical works. It allows an original work to be considered a property that is owned by someone. Lyrics, Notes, Words to Songs, any musical works once it is created and documented / recorded (on video, tape or CD or  writing down the notation of a score). The work has to be original. The author has to be a citizen or resident in a country signatory to the Berne Convention. (South Africa & UK)

No official form of copyright registration is necessary in South Africa and the UK. 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 of the musical piece, and that you own the copyright of that particular work. To prove this we suggest the following:

  1. Record the musical work on video, tape or CD with date and time. It is important to preserve evidence that your work was in existence at a certain date.
  2. Send a copy of the recording to yourself by ‘Special Delivery’.
  3. Keep the proof hidden in a safe place.
  4. Store a copy with your solicitor, bank manager or Attorney.

Copyright registrations in the U.S can be filed through the United Stated Copyright Office by a copyright attorney. If you own the copyright to a musical work, you possess the sole authority to: copy the music, issue, lend or rent copies to the public, perform, show or play the music in public, communicate the music to the public (TV, radio, Internet).

Copyright Duration

In South Africa and the UK, copyright generally lasts for a period of 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies.

Copyright & Licensing Agreements

Owners of copyright have the right to compensation or reoyalties when their work is copied or used. Copyright owners can license or permanently transfer or assign their exclusive rights to others. Contact the attorneys at Smit & Van Wyk, Inc. regarding your copyright & licensing agreements requirements. Smit & Van Wyk, Inc. copyright services include licensing of rights and royalties regarding copyright in South Africa. Contact our copyright attorneys at Smit & Van Wyk, Inc. regarding your copyright at enquiries@svw.co.za. Feel free to contact us should you have any questions or require assistance with any copyright matter.