How can music lawyers help you?

The music industry is a multi-million pound market. The revenue streams originate from:

  • Record sales
  • Commercials
  • Film
  • Live concerts

This diverse business model has become more complex in recent times because of the increase in online purchases of music. Lawyers who are specialised in particular aspects of the music industry are charged with protecting the legal rights of the owners of the music - the record labels that own the copyright.

We get quite a few clients coming through to us looking for help with recording contracts and other similar requests, and we will be able to help you too.

What does a music lawyer do?

Music lawyers can help with all aspects of music law, from:

  • Checking record contracts
  • Advising on copyrights

Working out who owns copyright to music can be complicated if you are not sure of the law and it is possible for a song to have a number of different copyrights owned by different people involved in its creation and production.


The author of the lyrics is likely to have a literary copyright on the words, while the creator of the music itself is also the owner of a separate copyright. In addition to this, the record producer may also own the copyright on the recording of the song.

A copyright is not indefinite and the term of protection for a musical work will last:

  • For seventy years following the end of the year in which the creator died
  • If a work is created by more than one person then the copyright is jointly owned and will continue seventy years after the last surviving creator

Copyrights on sound recordings have a different length of term before expiry. If you believe you own a copyright to a part of a music production you should check with a music lawyer to see if this is so, and how long it will last.

In the event your musical work is governed by a different jurisdiction outside of England, you will need to contact a music lawyer with knowledge of music laws in other countries in order to be properly advised on the term of copyright.

Illegal downloading

In today’s marketplace, there are many different ways for a consumer to purchase music. Lawyers who deal with protecting intellectual property rights are on the lookout for instances where copyrights are being infringed. The most obvious example of this type of behaviour is online file sharing, where individuals are able to send and receive copyrighted materials without control or payment.

Another example of this is the manufacturing of counterfeit CDs (often in countries which offer little enforcement of copyright laws, such as China).

When a person illegally downloads music, lawyers for the record labels may not be interested in bringing charges against that individual. Instead they are likely to go after the online service that allowed that individual to download the music in the first place.

This is because of two reasons:

  • Firstly, stopping the individual will not prevent another individual from downloading music, but stopping the service might
  • Secondly, the individual that downloaded the file is unlikely to have significant funds to make a lawsuit justified, but a service provider might

However, there are significant numbers of cases in which individuals have been sued, possibly in order to make an example of them. If you are involved in the music industry and you would like more information about the legal aspects of your chosen profession you should speak to a solicitor that specialises in the music industry.

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