BlogLegal ResourcesIntellectual Property in Music: Related Rights

November 18, 20210

In 2019, Taylor Swift announced the re-recording of her old albums. Until now, she has released several songs that the public is already familiar with. 

Did she have to go through all this once again?

We are sorry to say yes, because of related rights to copyright.

What are related rights?

Up to now, Legit has several posts on Copyright and Trademark protection. Put together, they constitute the foundations of Intellectual Property

However, another sui generis set of rights protected by the copyright laws are related rights. You can come across them as  ‘neighboring rights’. However, keep in mind that they are definitely not the person living next to your door, but are only linked with copyright protection.

Let us explain:

The author has exclusive property rights on his work, which allow him to authorize or prohibit others from performing certain actions on, or – from – his work. 

Actions such as:

  • Copying 
  • Reproducing
  • Distributing
  • Broadcasting
  • Communicating to the public
  • Creating derived works

When the copyright titleholder authorizes another person to distribute his work, the other person  enjoys the same protection on the work as the author itself. 

For example: A movie production company wants to adopt a best-seller novel into a movie. First, it should ask the author for a license for the adaptation of the plot into a screenplay. Secondly, it should protect the screenplay from wrong-exploitation, acting as the copyright titleholder on the adapted screenplay.

All in all, related rights belong to the persons who bring the copyrighted work to the public. They might be performers, producers of sound recordings and broadcasting organizations. 

The moral and economic effort  to perform, translate, interpret, adapt, broadcast or master a creation, enjoy international protection by various Conventions.

The Albanian law on Copyright has implemented copyrights and related rights protection in a single law. 

Owners of Related Rights to Copyright

Performing rights belong to the person who uses his artistic and technical skills to bring a work to the public. It can be a drama performed in a theater, a symphony played by a philharmonic orchestra, or Tailor Swift’s song played in a mall.

Broadcasting rights belong to any person or company which provides a work through  sound and image to the public, by using the radio, television, wireless or satellite. These persons or companies, control the transmission and retransmission of a copyrighted work.

Producers of sound recording have a dual interest over their rights, because they are invested both artistically and monetarily for bringing a work to the public. The original recording of a song requires not only the adequate equipment to fix the sound in a phonogram, but also the technical skills to master it with the lyrics.

The letter ‘P’ enclosed in a circle stands for a copyrighted master recording The symbol ℗ identifies a protected phonogram. Usually, in the music industry, it belongs to the label.

For example: Taylor Swift might have been the writer or the co-writer on some of her songs, but the label she belonged to (before 2019) had the master recording rights over all the six albums. She had no rights to use by herself, or prohibit and authorize online platforms from distributing her songs, or to perform them live without prior authorization by the label.

Do you know how she managed to bring “Taylor’s version” into existence? 

Related rights is a category derived from copyrights. Taylor had no master recording rights on her songs, yet she was the author of the texts. So, she exploited her copyrights to record the albums once again. 

Listening to her last song, we couldn’t help but think of how much artists need to understand the importance of intellectual property rights of the products they put online. 

What do you think?

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