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Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC

in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Office: (603) 447-8994
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Articles of Interest

Attorney Edward Alkalay writes a regular column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper entitled "The Legal Corner." His articles address a wide variety of timely legal issues. Click on the titles below to review his past articles.

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The Legal Corner: What every composer/musician needs to know about copyright law

May 2, 2012

I have been playing and writing music much longer than I have been a lawyer. Music has always been a passion and an outlet for me, although these days it is mostly restricted to playing or writing in my basement after my children have gone to sleep. In this article I will provide some basic copyright information that every songwriter/composer should know.
Knowing the basics of copyright law can help protect a composer\\\'s intellectual property so that when you write a hit song, a Broadway musical, a soon-to-be jazz standard, etc., your work and you will be protected. Establishing copyright protection for music provides a composer rights in how the music is used, including the right to reproduce the composition, the right to perform the work, the right to arrange or change the work in any way, the right to sell the work, and the right to license the work.
Your composition does not need to be well known, published or released to be copyrighted. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, copyright protection begins as soon as the work exists “in a tangible form.” That means as soon as you write lyrics, record a demo, or video an original song, you have copyright protection. However, to fully protect yourself, you need to do more. While a copyright is formed when you create your work, it would be difficult to prove that you composed a song if someone steals your idea.
In order to protect your composition, you need to register with the U.S. Copyright Office. It is a relatively easy process and you do not need a law degree (or any other degree) to register. Moreover, copyright protection lasts a long time. As stated, copyright protection begins as soon as a composition is created, but it does not end until 70 years after the composer\\\'s death. When multiple composers are responsible for a song’s creation, copyright protection ends 70 years after the last composer credited dies.
While intellectual property law can be a very complicated and specialized area, there is no need to hire a team of lawyers to obtain a copyright for your music or lyrics. It is a simple process and will provide you protection and peace of mind for your music. For more information about registering an original composition with the Office of Copyright, visit the U.S. Copyright Office at http://www.copyright.gov.

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie PLLC and can be reached at (603)447-8994 or ed@northconwaylawyers.com. (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

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By: Edward D. Alkalay