The digital age makes copyright infringement easy today. In fact, musicians suffer daily from piracy. In 2015, 53 million Americans pirated music. According to one statistic, the music industry loses approximately $5 billion yearly due to worldwide music piracy, with $1 million per day in the United States alone for just physical products! Needless to say, these exorbitant costs affect musicians and their ability to make a profit on their livelihood. Unfortunately, the music industry is rife with copyright infringement. Even famous musicians are not exempt as such artists as Ed Sheeran, Led Zeppelin, Pharrell Williams, and many others have been accused of copyright infringement. While copyright infringement may be hard to control, musicians can better protect their creations by registering their copyrights and enforcing them. The following identifies five reasons musicians need registered copyrights.
1. Control performance. Musicians who have registered copyright material have full control over who legally gets to use or perform their music in public. Without a registered copyright, it would be much harder to keep others from publicly performing or using music.
2. Reproduce the work. Countless musicians have reproduced versions of famous songs, such as the Beatles Yesterday song. However, creating a new version of a song still requires permission. Only the copyright owner of a song can grant that permission.
3. Make changes. On occasion, musicians may want to update old songs, adapt them for soundtracks, or add new effects.
4. Distribute, display, and/or sell copies of the work. This perk keeps counterfeiters from making money on the music owned by others. Only the copyright owner has a say in how his or her music is distributed, sold, or displayed.
5. License the work. A copyright owner has the ability to license his or her work to another company or individual who then may have rights to the other options listed above.
While a work is essentially copyrighted the minute it is composed, copyright owners do not have as much power to protect their work unless they register it. For instance, a registered copyright gives an owner the ability to enforce the copyright to seek damages and pay for attorney fees in the event of infringement. With today’s technological advancements and easy access to published works, registered copyrights are critical for musicians.