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Copyrights, Licenses and Songs - P.2

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What is Copyright?

Copyrights are legal identification: they help to identify the actual creator and owner of any work. You automatically gain ‘copyrights’ for an original piece as soon as you finish writing/composing the song and transfer it to a tangible form like a recording or sheet music. Your copyright entitles you to reproduce and publicly distribute and perform your song. You can also create any amount of derivations and variations of the song.

What is a License?

A license is legal permission for use of your copyrighted music. Even when people buy music you have created or you give someone a tape with a recording of your song on it for free, you still retain the rights to your work. The other party merely gains ownership of the storage media and a permission from you to play the record. The only way you lose your copyright is if you transfer your complete rights to someone else through a legal contract (as is the case with "works made for hire" arrangements). There are many ways you can legally allow other people and entities to use and/or alter your work in specifiable ways through licenses, while still retaining 100% of your copyright.

With licenses you can grant others the rights to reproduce and publicly distribute your song over some media like CDs (mechanical rights), publically perform or broadcast it (performance rights), use it on film/TV/visual media (synchronization rights) and/or use/sell its sheet music (print rights) while still getting paid your fair share (or even offering these permissions for free…you set the terms).

As a beginner and collaborator on Songwriting Fever, you will be sharing your work with others and, possibly, letting them use or modify it over the Internet. But before you do that you should read about and understand the following copyright and licensing terms:

All Rights Reserved

All rights reserved’ is the default setting in copyright law. It basically means that the original creator/owner only has ALL the rights associated with the entire composition/lyrics. And no one but the original author can use the work.

Creative Commons Licenses

Music shared through a creative commons license entitles grantees with the right to use and share the work in consideration of certain restrictions. There are six basic types of creative commons licenses:

The "CC Attribution" creative commons license allows for copying, modifications and distribution as long as the original creator is credited. In essence, creative work under a "CC Attribution" license is free for even commercial use but you are not to credit the creator in a way that gives the impression that they endorse YOUR work.

An extension of the CC Attribution license is "CC Attribution- ShareAlike". The only difference here is that anything you create using the licensed property must also carry the same license. For example you can not use a "CC Attribution- ShareAlike" licensed composition in your work and then sell it. Your derivative work must be "free" too.

"CC Attribution- NoDerivs" lets you redistribute work but you have to give attribution and not modify the work in any way.

With "CC Attribution- NonCommercial" you are free to do whatever you like- as long as it's not for commercial purposes.

The "CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike" is essentially the same as above but adds the "ShareAlike" restriction discussed above.

You can use work under a "CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs" license non-commercially but without modification.

You can view the contents of a creative commons license at

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Important: This is not legal advise. is not liable to any consequence resulting from decisions you make based on what is written above. We strongly advise to consult a lawyer.