Intellectual property protection of music works

by:PERSA COSTA

Beautiful pieces of music are created every day all over the world. The talent, the inspiration and the hard work of musicians creating these music works are undoubtedly worth being valued and their works must be efficiently protected.

The works and rights of all creators, including musicians, are protected pursuant to an international Convention, namely the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, which was adopted in 1886 and has been signed by a total of 174 countries up to now. The Republic of Cyprus is a Contracting State since 1960.

According to the said Convention, any music work which has its origins in one of the Contracting States – that is to say that either the creator is a National of this State or the work was first published in this State – is protected in the same way and extent in each Contracting State as the work of the Nationals of the States. This represents the principle of “national treatment" which the convention regulates.

Furthermore, it is of undeniably high importance that the above-mentioned protection is given automatically. Based on another principle, namely that of "automatic" protection, Contracting States are not permitted to require a formal registration for the works. Thus, the creator does not have to register his work in order to safeguard its protection.

Exactly what the Berne Convention provides, is that the copyright immediately exists once the tangible form of the musical work is made. This may be, for instance, in the form of CDs or of music sheets. Copyright protection is immediately granted as soon as the work is finished. A music work is copyrighted up to 70 years after the year of the death of the creator of the music.

In practice, the protection is given when the work is first published, by adding the symbol © as well as the year of the work’s publication. However, the United States continues to protect only works that are registered; so, if one wishes to protect his work in the United States he has to register the copyright on his specific work to the United States Copyright Office.

The creators of music works have the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, perform, publish and synchronize the work to visual content. Although those rights exist automatically, the creator may need to prove the copyright ownership in case he wants to seek injunctions or compensation against those who take advantage of his own work. In this case, the creator may need to bring evidence before the Court showing that he is the original author.

The content of this article intends to provide an overview to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought on each particular case. For any further information, please contact Persa Costa at persa@kyprianou.com.cy