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Copyrights, Licensing, Music, and Films

Have you ever listened to film sound tracks and felt that certain portions of the music sounded familiar? You could be right. Studios may recycle film music, but they are required to make payments for the original sound track music. The American Federation of Musicians (AFM), a labor organization representing about 80,000 professional musicians in the United States and Canada, is suing several Hollywood movie studios for recycling film music without making required payments. The AFM seeks to recover damages for breach of contract including payments for the benefit of musicians whose services were covered by the agreement.

If you use samples in commercially released music, it is important to first receive legal permission to do so. The process of obtaining permission from the original owners is referred to as "sample clearance." Failure to get the proper permission could lead to serious consequences: lawsuits or the inability to distribute your music to the public.

Alternatively, if you believe someone is illegally sampling your music other copyrighted works of art, you may be able to recover financial damages against the infringer. A knowledgeable copyright attorney can explain in further detail.

What are the rules for recycling film music? Since 1960, producers have agreed with the AFM that "all music sound track already recorded, or which will be recorded prior to the expiration of this Agreement, will not be used at any time for any purpose whatsoever except to accompany the picture for which the music sound track was originally prepared." However, a 2010 agreement allows limited re-use of previously recorded music sound tracks if the producers make specified payments for the benefit of those AFM musicians who created the previously recorded sound tracks. So long as they make these payments, producers may use up to two minutes of music sound track from a motion picture without the accompanying footage.

To sample music in YouTube videos or in other works of commercial art, certain copyright rules apply. Learn more about how to legally sample copyrighted music here.

For assistance on how to copyright your own music or work of art, contact the experiencedOrange County copyright lawyers at MYBE Law today.

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