Music Copyright Primer Pt. 2- Compulsory Licenses

27 Apr

The 6 Compulsory Licenses:

Cable Television Rebroadcast – The cable television compulsory license requires the local broadcasting stations to allow the cable companies to retransmit their signals in exchange for payment of set fees. Without the license, the broadcast would be an unauthorized distribution of copyrighted programming.

Public Broadcasting System- The PBS lobbyists did a terrific job requiring copyright owners to license works to them at cheap rates.

Jukebox – Before 1976, the copyright act did not make jukeboxes pay for their rights to use music; they were considered toys in 1909 copyright act. Currently, they pay a set licensing fee.

Digital Performance of Records – It requires the owners of recordings to allow performances of masters on digital radio, which includes webcasting (which are radio shows on the Internet).

Phonorecords and Digital downloads of Nondramatic Musical compositions- Once a song has been recorded and released to the public, the copyright owner must license it: (a) to anyone else that wants to use it in a phonorecord (a material object that embodies sound; i.e. an mp3 file stored on a computer or CD); and (b) for a specific payment established by the law. All the following conditions must exist before you get a compulsory license:

1. The song is a non-dramatic musical work; and

2. It has been previously recorded; and

3. The previous recording has been distributed publicly in phonorecords; and

4. The new recording doesn’t change the basic melody or fundamental character of the song; and

5. The new recording is only used in phonorecords.[1]


[1] Passman, Donald. All You Need to Know About the Music Business. 7th edition. p. 208-209.

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