Your Songs Here: SongConnect
Music Industry Form Contracts
In the absence of a written agreement,
any of a song's registered co-writers may assign or license the
song, i.e., allow someone else to record the song or exploit other
rights in the song. Since this could lead to confusion, e.g.,
where two writers grant the same exclusive license to two separate
parties, it is important to have a written agreement between co-writers
as to who will be responsible for administering the rights in
the song. In most situations the co-writers will assign the rights
in administration to a music publisher in exchange for a percent
share of the future royalty earnings.
Remember, the right to grant licenses is
a right in title. This right is different and separate by law
than the right in equity which is a right to the royalties earned
by a song. For example, a music publisher may only hold a small
10% right to the royalties in a song while owning 100% of the
title, i.e., owning 100% of the right to license the song. And
conversely, in this situation the writer(s) may own 90% of the
equity while owning 0% of the title (the writer(s) would own 100%
of the title at creation of the song under copyright law, but
if they have relinquished their right to title via contractual
agreement, their 100% in title rights would go to 0%).
In short, it is the title holder who controls
the use and disposal of the song. It is the title holder (copyright
assignee) who has the right to negotiate and set the price for
any use license fee. The title holder is considered, by law, to
be the copyright owner, i.e., the legal owner of the rights in
copyright to the song.
Along with the right to assign licenses, the writer(s) usually designate the title administrator (music publisher) the right to collect and distribute royalties earned. This relieves the user from having to write several checks to pay all the different parties holding equity in the song he uses.
See Cross-links: COPYRIGHT MANAGEMENT COMPANY, MUSIC PUBLISHER, CATALOG ADMINISTRATION, FINANCE, COPYRIGHT ADMINISTRATION, TITLE, EQUITY, COPYRIGHT PROPRIETOR, COPYRIGHT LAW under "Compulsory License."
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