If you are an artist who makes a living from rights and royalties, this section will help you learn more about where rights can be applied to various uses of your work.

Managing Your Rights

It is possible for an artist to join collecting societies independently and bypass the publisher and record labels. An alternative is to have administration deals, where a third party is paid to administer the copyright and not take any ownership to the rights. Managing your own rights can be difficult if you do not know how the business works as there are many pitfalls. Often it is the more established and practised artists and composers who do this.


Audio/Visual Work: An industry term for film, television or any other audio/visual production such as presentations, Flash, Quicktime & other internet visual formats, videos, CDs, DVDs, etc.

Synchronization Rights: The right to use the music in timed relations with other visual elements in a film, video, television show/commercial, or other audio-visual production. In other words, the right to use the music as a soundtrack with visual images. Synchronization licenses are obtained from the publisher (or composer if no publisher) or the music library.

Master Use Rights: When you hear music on the radio or TV, this recording is known in the music industry as the 'master recording'. This is what is produced after all the musicians have played their parts and these parts have been 'mixed' together for release. The recording of the master is also protected by copyright. A record label or music library owns this copyright, and can grant the right to use the recording in a compilation album, film soundtrack or other audio or visual medium. It grants the right to use the sound recording.

Performing Rights: Public Performance Right is the exclusive right given by US Copyright Law to the creator of a musical work or other copyrighted material authorising its use in public. Every time a song is performed on a broadcast, there is a public performance. This public performance is licensed by performing rights organisations (BMI/ASCAP/etc.) or directly from the copyright holder as a direct license.

Mechanical Rights: License granting the right to record and release a specific composition at an agreed-upon fee per unit manufactured and sold. Right to use a song owned by someone else on a recording.

Grand Rights: Term used to describe 'dramatic' performing rights. This would include musical comedies (Broadway and off-Broadway), operas, operettas, ballets, as well as renditions of musical compositions in a dramatic setting where there is narration, a plot and/or costumes and scenery. The copyright owner has the exclusive right to issue licenses and collect fees for grand rights. Performance rights organisations do not collect performing rights royalties for this use, and are licensed directly from either the composer or publisher.

"If you have a theatrical work, then you would expect to negotiate grand
rights, which in opera, for example in England, is 10% box office. If
it's a very small little opera company, there's a small theatrical
presentation, then you would probably ask for just a straight fee –
£200-£400, depending on the size of the operation.” – Sally Groves

Direct License: A license obtained directly from the copyright owner or publisher where the Performing Rights are paid directly to the copyright owner by the Licensee. With a Direct License, no royalties are collected by, or paid to, the Performing Rights Organizations (BMI/ASCAP/etc.).

Copyright: The exclusive right, granted by law for a stated period, usually until 70 years after the death of the surviving author of the work, to make, dispose of, and otherwise control copies of literary, musical, dramatic, pictorial and other copyrightable works.

Moral Rights:
“What might happen if a license is granted and someone used the music in way that the composer doesn't like. In addition to copyright, there are moral rights. A composer can say, first of all that he insists he is credited as the composer of the work whenever it is used with certain exceptions; and secondly, if it's distorted or mutilated in a way that will damage the integrity of the work. A classic example is if permission is granted to use music in a film and it turns out that it's a pornographic film or that it promotes a product that the composer doesn't agree with like tobacco or alcohol. He might be able to evoke his moral rights in that situation.” – Sarah Faulder

Sourced from: IAMusic


Artists House Music
Provides an overview of Grand rights, which is a license used for operas.

Intellectual Property Office
The IPO is an official government body for handling all intellectual property issues in the UK. They provide advice through a database of Search and Advisory Services as well as explaining specific copyright issues for music composition, sound recording, performer rights and moral rights.

Own-it is a website for providing advice on intellectual property for creative businesses in the UK. They provide free legal IP advice for lower turnover businesses. They provide introductions to various legal contracts and offer a range of contract templates for £35 and provide a range of services including workshops and seminars, as well as legal advice and recommendations from specialist IP lawyers.

ArtLaw: Copyright section
The copyright section of ArtLaw from ArtQuest provides the core details in understanding copyrights, moral rights, copyright protections, and copyrights over the internet.

NESTA: Intellectual Property Frameworks
NESTA provides six IP frameworks for working with public commissions for creative organisations and businesses. The site provides templates for handling commissions and licensing agreements of digital creative content.

PACT & NESTA: Collaborative Working Templates
NESTA and Pact have developed a series of legal templates to enable independent TV production companies and new media companies to work together to win new commissions – and jointly exploit the intellectual property created.

Writers Copyright Association
UK copyright service with prices per registered work ranging from £25 for 5 years to £80 for 20 years. Also contains sample contracts (Life Story, Screenplay option, Standard Release Form, Writers Collaboration, Licensing Rights to an Article). NB: This is essentially a back-up to prove you are the author of the work. As the author you do not need to register copyright, it is automatically granted (you don't even need to write a '©').

British Library Business and IP Centre
Department of the British Library providing advice on IP to individuals and start-up businessesI

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