Licensing and royalties
1a. Name three societies that look
after royalties and licensing and describe and explain what these societies do.
PRS (Performance Right Society) is a copyright collective. It’s a
society for songwriters, composers and music publishers to license their
musical compositions and lyrics. PRS pay their members when their music has
been performed live, been used in film and tv, broadcasted, downloaded,
streamed and played in public (PRS for music, 2017).
MCPS (Mechanical copyright protection) is
another society for songwriters, composers and music publishers who collaborate
with PRS. MCPS are responsible for their members mechanical rights (sound
recordings) when their music is reproduced as a physical product such as CDs,
DVDs, digital downloads and videos and also featured in films and TV
commercials. (PRS for music, 2017).
PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) is also a
licensing company like PRS, but instead of representing songwriters, composers
and music publishers, PPL collects and pay royalties to the performer and the record
company members. (PPL, 2017).
1b. Why are the above sociaties so
important for the music industry?
Licensing is necessary for keeping the process
between music makers and music users simple and straightforward for both parties.
If these societies wouldn’t exist businesses would have to contact each and
every songwriter, composer and music publisher themselves to ask for permission
to play their music. This would also mean that the composers and music
publishers themselves would have to deal with a lot of requests from all kinds
of businesses. (PRS for music, 2017).
Through these societies the composers and
publishers can keep track of where and when their music is performed or played
in public. To make sure that the royalties will be paid to the right people all
music needs to be registered and available somewhere. For example when a song
is played on Spotify, Spotify must pay PRS for their use of it. PRS then
distributes the correct amount of royalties to each songwriter, publisher and
composer. Every business will need to have a PPL license if they are going to
play recorded music. Otherwise they are infringing copyrights. (PRS for music, 2017).
2. Give an example of a copyright
infringement case and describing, explaining and critically commenting on it
Harrisons song “My Sweet Lord” was released in 1970 and became number one on
the charts in over sixteen countries.
song was a great start to his solo career although it turned out that My Sweet
Lord was proved to be very similar to “He’s So Fine” by the American girl group
a couple months after its release, Harrison was sued by the publisher of “He’s
so fine” for copyright infringement. In Harrisons biography I, Me, Mine he
says: “I wasn’t consciously aware of the similarity between ‘He’s so fine’ and
‘ My Sweet Lord’ when I wrote the song, as it was more improvised and not so
fixed” (“I, Me, Mine”, 1980).
judge in this case said that it was obvious that the songs were almost
identical however he said that he didn’t think that Harrison counsiously copied
“He’s so fine”. Harrison claimed that since he heard the Chiffons song for the
first time his “subconcious knew the combination of chords in the song” (“I,
Me, Mine”, 1980).
The law process became one of the longest in the
history. It wasn’t completed until twenty-seven years later. It ended up with
that Harrison had to pay compensation to Ronnie Mack’s right holder. The
songwriter of “He’s so fine”. (Ultimate classic rock, 2016).
In my opinion there is definitely similarities between
“My Sweet Lord” and “He’s so fine” in terms of the chords and melodies, but I
don’t believe that Harrison intentionally plagiarized “He’s so fine”. In fact I
think that every songwriter often borrow parts and ideas from other songs
without really realizing it. I believe that as long as music keeps growing in
different genres, someone is always bound to use the same chords and words as
someone else without knowing it. Although even if Harrison wasn’t fully aware
that he had copied “He’s so fine”, it is still an infringement of copyright
which means that I still think it is right that he had to pay compensation to
the songwriter of “He’s so fine”.
3. What would the music industry look
like without licensing and royalties?
Compare the UK to other parts of the
world that have more relaxed or non-excisting copyright.
industry without licencing and royalties would basically mean that no one would
get paid and In that case I do not think that the industry would be this big.
people would eventually stop creating music if they would not get paid or
credit for the work they have done.
composers or publishers for example are all proffesions which means that they
have the same right as anyone else to get paid and get credited for their work.
wouldn’t exist without the work of songwriters, composers and publishers. We’re
here to represent them and ensure that they are rewarded for their creations.”
(PRS for music, 2017).
licensing and royalties I also believe that music piracy would increase. If the
music is not registered anywhere it would mean that anyone could copy and
distribute of copies of a piece of work for which the composer, artist or
whoever is the copyright holder, did not give consent. Without copyright and
licensing it would be impossible to find out who would be paid when and for
copyright system in Brazil looks a bit different than what it does in big part
of Europe for example. In Brazil it runs by ECAD, which collects all royalties
from exercise, mechanical and related rights and then distribute it to the
relevant author and then these communities distribute royalties to their
has showed some flaws in the distribution of collections so Brazil decided to
start an investigation that later revealed errors far from ECADs legal rights.
help them solve conflicts and problems between artists and collective societies
they created IBDA which is suppose to act as an intermediary.
new licensing concept gave the author more control over their work.
law also allows a person who owns an album to create copies of it for personal
use without permission. Underclared work can also be reproduced for non-commercial
purposes without permisson.
broadband and mobile sevices rises, the worry about illegal file sharing also
change that was proposed regarding the music market is that if you’re playing
songs through payment or other favors it will be considered a “violation of the
economic order and the right to free culture”.
in the UK does have an Anti- piracy Unit to protect the copyright of PRS
members. They can help you investigate copyright violations and, when necessary,
also take legal action (The music business journal, 2010).
PRS for music, 2017.
PRS and MCPS (Online) Available at: https://prsformusic.com/what-we-do/prs-and-mcps (Accessed: November 26, 2017)
PPL, 2017. PPL and PRS
for music (online) Available at: http://www.ppluk.com/I-Play-Music/PPL-and-PRS-for-Music-/ (Accessed: November 26, 2017)
UK government, 2017.
Licence to play background music (PPL) (online) Available at: https://www.gov.uk/licence-to-play-background-music-ppl (Accessed: December 6, 2017)
PRS for music, 2017.
Licensing music (online) Available at: https://prsformusic.com/what-we-do/licensing-music (Accessed: December 6, 2017)
Harrison George, 1980.
I, Me, Mine (Genesis publications)
The music business
journal, 2010. A far reaching copyright change in Brazil (online) Available at:
http://www.thembj.org/2010/10/a-far-reaching-copyright-change-in-brazil/ (Accessed: December 6, 2017)
Ultimate classic rock, 2016. 40 years ago: George Harrison found guilty
of ‘My sweet Lord’ plagiarism (online) Available at: http://ultimateclassicrock.com/george-harrison-my-sweet-lord-plagiarism/ (Accessed: December 6, 2017)