Are Song Titles & Lyrics Protected by Copyright or Trademark Law

The author of a work is legally protected by the Copyright Act. According to the trademark law, this also includes musical works. These are self-contained compositions published under a specific title – whether with or without lyrics. This means that not only music falls under the copyright of composers. Singing, nature sounds or even animal sounds can also be part of it.

In addition, it is not necessary for the piece in question to have been published as sheet music or on a recording. It is already sufficient if the piece of music has been performed once in front of an audience. Important to know: The copyright does not have to be registered. It exists with the creation of the work.


What Does Musicians Copyright Include?

Copyright can be broken down into three parts:

  • exploitation rights
  • Reproduction Rights
  • distribution right

These rights belong solely to the composer and cannot be transferred to other people. Only when the composer dies do the exploitation rights pass to his heirs. However, there is the chance of granting a right of use to others. A composer always has the right to be credited as the author of his work. In addition, he is protected by law against distortion of the work. This is the case if the author’s personal interests in his work are endangered.

Are Song Titles & Lyrics Protected by Copyright or Trademark Law
Are Song Titles & Lyrics Protected by Copyright or Trademark Law

Is Musician’s Copyright Transferable?

No! A composer cannot transfer copyright in a work as such. This is also not possible through a deal. However, it is possible to grant others the right to use the work. For this purpose, an agreement is concluded that contains the most important details about the scope of use and the remuneration.

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What About Covers On Youtube?

Theoretically, musicians must also purchase a document for covers of other people’s songs published on YouTube. In many cases, however, record companies see such videos as free advertising and do not pursue copyright infringement. However, more and more record companies are also taking action against covers – especially on platforms with a large number of subscribers and also when only passages from a copyrighted track are played. If the record company raises a copyright claim, the consequence is that the creators who publish the tutorial either cannot make any money from it or the video is blocked entirely. In this case, YouTube is liable as a so-called interferer and is obliged to delete such videos if necessary.


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