BlogContracts & TransactionsLegal ResourcesRelated Rights to Copyright

July 22, 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. So, why did she have to go through all this once again? 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. Another sui generis set of rights, protected by the Copyright laws, are related rights. The latter are also known as ‘neighbor rights’ to copyright, but the wording is the least important.     

Because the author has the exclusive property rights on his work, he/ she can prohibit or authorize others on the following actions:

  • To copy the work
  • To reproduce the work
  • To distribute the work
  • To broadcast the work
  • To communicate the work to the public
  • To create derived creations from the work

The authorized person/s is the holder of the related right to copyright. He/ she enjoys from this authorized work, the same protection the author enjoys on his work. For example, when a novel is adapted into a film, the author who enjoys the copyright on the novel, should – by authorization – allow the film studio to adapt its plot on a screenplay. The ownership of the copyright in the adapted screenplay belongs to the film studio. 

All in all, related rights belong to the persons who, by different means of communication, bring the copyrighted work to the public. Such persons might be the performers, producers of sound recordings and broadcasting organizations. All the moral and economic effort put to perform, translate, interpret, adapt, broadcast or master a creation, enjoy international protection by various Conventions.

The Albanian law on Copyright has implemented such rights in a single- law. Other jurisdictions might follow the international example of providing ad hoc laws for each neighbor right.

Owing related rights to copyright

  •  Performing rights belong to any person who uses his/her artistic and technical skills to bring a work where the public is present. It can be a drama performed in a theater, a symphony played by a philharmonic orchestra, or a Tailor Swift’s song played in a mall.
  • Broadcasting rights belong to any person or company which provides a work (in sound and image) to the public, by using the radio, television, wireless or satellite. Such persons or companies, control the transmission and retransmission of a copyrighted work.
  • Producers of sound recording have a dual interest over their rights, since 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 copyrighted version of a master recording can be identified by the letter ‘P’ enclosed in a circle. The symbol ℗ means a protected phonogram. Usually, in the music industry, it belongs to the label.

Taylor Swift, for example, 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 prohibit or authorize different online platforms to distribute her songs or live performances without a prior authorization by the label. Since related rights are divided by copyrights, and the copyright owner is a different person from the sound recording owner, Tailor Swift exploited her copyright to record the albums once again.

Related rights do not serve only to their holder, but support technological development as well. Progress of science and technology shall be accompanied by an adequate legal framework in order to protect any creation of intellectual property put online. 

Big platforms, such as Netflix, are doing it towards monthly payments, and still piracy exists. This is nevertheless an indicator that the moral and legal endeavors for constructing a safer  space for the companies to bring their product online is still in progress.

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