What Role Do Intellectual Property Rights Play in Music Industry?

There’s no denial in the fact that internet has greatly affected our lives. With it, music industry has also experienced the same influence. Though musicians interact with the internet property related matters on daily basis, quite few of them are aware of the rights, rules and elements associated with it. This guide will brief you some more details on how intellectual property rights are linked to the music industry.

How Is Music Related To IPR?

Musicians need to manage the intellectual property rights associated with the songs creation etc. Hence, it becomes greatly important that they know how intellectual property rights are divided among several categories including patents, trademark and copyright. Following section will discuss some more details of intellectual property rights in the music industry.

  • Copyright

Copyrights are one of the most important among other intellectual properties for musicians. Copyright laws give several rights of song creators including right to produce a song, reproduce a song (i.e. making its copies), right to perform a song, right to publish a song and synchronise it to visual content.

Some musicians have a misconception on copyright that it provides protection to the underlying idea. However, in actual that is not true. Rather, copyright ensures that after you express the idea (here, write the song), no one can copy it. In fact, copyright protection starts working after you express the underlying song in tangible form known as “fixation”.

For instance, if a musician records his/her performance on a song or writes down the melody, chord progression and melody of the song, he/she has tangibly expressed it.

If someone copies song of a musician, the underlying copyright gets infringed. To ascertain the infringement, a judge has to prove that the accused has actually copied “substantial” part of the song. There is no as such a criterion defined for judgement of “substantial “stolen part. Sometimes, a musician may face infringement for even copying a small line from another song.

  • Trademark


Trademark offers protection for a combination of symbols, designs or words used for distinguishing source of services or wares. This protection provides right to the musician for using a particular mark. Trademarks are of crucial importance in case of goods. A trademark ensures that the good which a customer is buying is actually related to the brand under which it is marked.

In music industry, trademark is relevant for band/artist name. Artists and bands having same name can create confusion in the mind of people. Trademarks, if not fully, but at least to some extent can curtail chances of such confusion.

Trademark protection depends upon continued and initial use of an underlying mark. This means that a musician can’t register with a name that he/she isn’t using. Similarly, a musician isn’t allowed to retain a trademark which he/she is no longer using.

In case, you also want help with trademark related laws and procedures, it is recommended to visit an intellectual property attorney. Intellectual property lawyers have complete knowledge of such laws and they can help you a great deal in acquiring a trademark.


Hope this guide will help you to understand the importance of intellectual property rights in the music industry.

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