Music licensing refers to the licensed use of copyrighted music and is intended to ensure that the owners of copyrights in musical works are compensated for certain uses of their work. The purchaser
of a music license has certain limited rights to use and reproduce the musical work without a separately arranged agreement.
Performance rights are licenses that give the copyright owner the right to receive royalties for their songs to be performed, recorded or live, in a public place or on the radio, television or on the Internet.
Theses rights are granted by Performance Rights Organizations like ASCAP, BMI & SESAC who pay the copyright owner for the use of their compositions.
The Performance Rights Organizations grant these licenses and collect payments for use of a songwriter’s musical composition. The owner of the copyright is then paid for any use their songs on radio, television, in clubs, restaurants, elevators, retail stores, colleges, etc.
Mechanical rights are granted to reproduce a song on CD or tape and sell those reproduced copies to the public. For any sales of those CD’s or tapes, a mechanical royalty must be paid to the owner of the copyright.
When a recording has been lawfully made with the permission of the copyright owner, anyone else
then has the right to make another recording of that work provided they pay the statutory royalties to the copyright owner. The copyright owner, however, can deny permission to anyone seeking to make
the first recording of their work.
When a song is used for the soundtrack of a film or for television, it is referred to as a
“synchronization” and a “synch license” must be obtained from the owner of the music being used.
Digital Performance Rights
To protect copyright owners for the streaming of audio over the Internet, the U.S. has enacted the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act (DPRA).
This establishes a performance right in sound recordings for certain digital transmissions. Under the DPRA, performers and owners of copyrights in sound recordings must be compensated and can
receive a royalty whenever their songs are used in digital transmissions.
Digital performance rights are administered in the U.S. by SoundExchange, a non-profit organization that licenses music services that engage in the public performance of sound recordings by digital transmission. Like the other performance rights organizations, they collect the license fees and distribute royalties to those whose recordings were performed.