Music Notation Copyright

It can be a little tricky at times to understand copyright in the field of music. For it varies for music notations, songs and sound recordings. To understand how copyright works for music notations, let us first know what exactly music notations are. In simple words, it’s a written form of music which uses different symbols. Any music sung or played has a printed representation to give artist an idea about it notes and variations. Thus the essence of the music produced using these notations remain uniform notwithstanding different artists performing it.

Mostly the copyright of the music notation remains with the composer who becomes its sole owner as soon as he incepts the note and writes it down. Since music notes are written down, the composer is expected to write down the copyright notice on the first page. It still remains an optional move and there is no harm in making an exception and not doing it. In most cases, the composer, who holds the copyright of the music notes, sells half of it to the publisher, who subsequently files for the copyright of the music. In those cases where the composer has sold the rights of the music completely, the publisher files paper for the complete ownership. Although, the music notes are written down on a paper, that single piece of paper is protected by stringent rights.

That piece of paper on which the notes are inscribed, cannot be photocopied, put on the internet, publicly performed or translated into recordings. However, written permission allows for non-profit performance of the music in the colleges, schools and churches etc.