Are Song Titles & Lyrics Protected by Copyright or Trademark Law

Music thrives on inspiration and imitation. But how far am I allowed as a musician to sample pieces of music without copyright infringement? Here it is about an insight into the limits of permissible free use of musical works.

The question of whether elements can be taken from a copyrighted work without the consent of the copyright holder depends on whether the taking of the samples of the original are considered free use ​​of the adaptation.

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When Is Use Free?

Under certain conditions, third-party musical works may be used freely, i.e. without the permission of the author. The prerequisite is that an independent new musical work is created and the original only serves as a suggestion. It is said that the specific features that make up the original fade because of the new creative achievement of one’s own. The more peculiar the original, the more difficult it will be to let this peculiarity recede into the background through one’s own creative work.

In the case of music, there is also the feature that melodies may not be recognizable at all. Free use is therefore only possible for other musical tools such as rhythm, sound and text materials.

Are Song Titles Lyrics Protected by Copyright or Trademark Law
Are Song Titles Lyrics Protected by Copyright or Trademark Law

When Does Processing Require Approval?

If the copyrighted original is only changed in such a way that it is still clearly recognizable in the newly created work, this usually means that it has been edited or recreated. The editing can then also be protected by copyright. However, if you want to publish or use the edited work, you need the permission of the rights holder.

Who Do I Get Permission To Edit?

A large number of people and companies are often involved in a musical work, such as composers, arrangers, musicians, producers, and broadcasting companies. Depending on the role these people or companies play in the musical work, either copyrights arise in favor of the people. When determining who owns the rights, you can contact the company with regard to ancillary copyrights and the publisher with regard to copyrights.

In the music industry, it is hardly possible to take over foreign elements, if only because of the song protection. Free use can be assumed if elements such as instrumentation, sound are used as suggestions. In general, the more original the more creative your own work must be so that free use can be accepted.


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