Apr 23, 2015

World IP Day 2015 - It's All About the Music

The official theme for the day which is held on 26 April every year is "Get up. Stand up. For music" referencing the classic Bob Marley track which is an inspiration to human rights campaigners the world over.  We have previously reported on various stories relating to the infringement of musician's rights such as Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams hit 'Blurred Lines' which was found to have infringed that of Marvin Gaye's 1977 hit 'Got to give it up' and Sam Smith's settlement of a claim that his song "Stay with Me" bore more than a passing resemblance to the song "I won't back down" by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers from 1989.

Events to celebrate the day are being held all over the world and you can check out if there is anything happening in your area on the WIPO website.

Copyright and Music

When a musical work has been created – lyrics or musical notes written down, arranged or recorded - copyright protection automatically arises. There is no formal obligation to register a work with a national authority, although in some countries, such the US, registering a work with the Library of Congress is the only way to bring court action for infringement.

Copyright enables those who hold rights in a work to decide how, when and where it may be used and by whom. A main purpose of copyright is to enable creators to be able to earn a living from their talent.  They receive a financial return on the time and energy invested in producing a work and will also be recognised as its author.

Copyright includes economic rights which give the creator the right to authorize, prohibit or obtain financial compensation (in the form of equitable remuneration) for the reproduction, distribution, communication to the public or an adaptation of a work (it should be noted that the new adapted work also qualifies for copyright protection in its own right).

Trade Marks and Music

Another IP right playing an increasingly important role within the world of music is the trade mark. Technically speaking a trademark or service mark, is a sign that distinguishes the goods and services produced and provided by one company from those of another. In the field of music, the name of a band will also be its brand, and therefore can be protected as a trade mark.

With a trade mark for its name a band acquires the exclusive right to use its name and gains control over its identity. Having a trade mark can also help to secure additional sources of revenue, for example, through licensing and merchandising deals.

Registering a band's name as a trade mark can help avoid a situation in which it comes up against another band operating under the same name. Such a scenario could mean the band would have to change its name or add an identifier. One Direction encountered such a situation when it was sued by a US punk band in 2012.

A trade mark is an extremely valuable asset to which the goodwill and reputation attaches.

It should be noted that song titles are not normally eligible for trade mark protection but may be so in relation to associated merchandize or if part of a series of works. If it can be shown that consumers have come to exclusively associate a song title with a given artist then it is said to have acquired secondary meaning and can be registered.

If you require advice or assistance with any of the matters discussed in this article please do not hesitate to contact us on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com

in: Copyright, Digital/Tech, Legal News, News, Trade Marks

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