8Understanding the copyright to music in the Digital age is more important than ever before. Music is used in literally every aspect of our lives – offline and online on our computers and mobile devices, in our cars and public transportation, on TV and radio, in shopping centers, malls, restaurants, night clubs etc.

Without knowing the way copyrights are managed, both music makers and consumers can get confused how music can be properly used, so that both sides get a good compensation to what they are willing to give.

This issue is of even greater importance in a country like Bulgaria, which has its characteristics like small music market; broaden piracy practices and very high internet connection speed.

Author, performer, producer

Before any further explanations, the role of each contributor to the music making process should be explained. The authors are the genuine creature of the song idea and first material implementation – written text, sheet music, demo recording. They have all the initially granted copyrights – to do themselves or allow any activity of the producing, changing, copying, performing, transmission etc. of the original song, they’ve written.

The performers and producers have to be granted these rights from the author, so that they can do their work in recording and performing the written music piece, but they also have their initial rights over the work, they’ve done.

The rights differentiate in their matter, and time limit – from 50 years from the recording or the release, up to 70 years after the dead of the author.

Music on the Internet

Music is widely spread over the internet in different forms. The main ways to listen to music are: download,streaming and music from online objects – games, sites, virtual worlds. These can be created and distributed in different ways, whereas consumers can use them for free – on a FREEMIUM model, or they can buy the music.

Live music

Another way of enjoying music is going on a live show, where performers play their music in real time, and make a good show. This kind of entertainment is a bit different in terms of copyright, because the object is not the recorded piece of music, but the right of performing and broadcasting the live event.

Public use

The consumer finds it hard to understand that for music should be paid for every one and every kind of usage. One of the misunderstood usages is the one on public places – stores, public transportation, bars, cinema theaters etc. Even when radio is played, and although the radio station has paid for the music, they broadcast, the public place’s owner is obligated to have a contract with Collective rights management organization, because, he also benefits financially from playing music to his clients. DJ’s have to pay a license for playing music publicly too.

Use in media and for synchronization

Music is the main entertainment instrument of TV and radio stations, and is also used in the movies and advertisement. For each and every use of a song or part of a song, a fee should be paid. TV and radio companies pay annual fees to withCollective rights management organizations, which then they distribute to the copyright owners according to playlists, sets or music charts.

FREE use of music

The consumers should be aware under which circumstances they can get free of charge music for personal use, as well as for commercial use. They are basically two main sources for free music – the public domain and music, licensed under  CREATIVE COMMONS license.

The music in the public domain is free, because the copyrights have already expired, or the author is unknown, which is the case with folklore music. People can use the music, as they like, but in some cases, when the use is abusive and immoral, it can be legally taken off the market by government institutions or by the will of heiress of the author.

The CREATIVE COMMONS license is the expression of the author’s will to distribute his music under lighter copyrights regime. These authors are free to choose from several options to grand different rights FREE to their customers.

Author: Radoslav Mihov

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