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An overview of music licensing

California's music professionals often face frustrations over issues related to copyright protections in their industry. The digital age has made it even more challenging to protect one's work from issues such as unauthorized copying and distribution. A recent study of copyright concerns and the marketplace for music was conducted by the U.S. Copyright Office as the current system was reviewed carefully.

Officials note that there are important areas in which various members of the industry could benefit from improvements. It is also noted that the current situation does not benefit those in need of such protections very well. Officials agree that creative professionals and companies should receive appropriate compensation for their work. Additionally, better efficiency in the licensing process would be advantageous. Data should be accessible and authoritative, and those who hold the rights to works should be able to readily obtain information about usage and payments.

Although the report identifies the areas that need improvement, recommendations for acting on this information are more limited. In some cases, tradeoffs may be necessary to make the systems of music licensing more practical. At the same time, there is a need to continue to protect the intellectual and creative rights of those who write, record, produce, distribute, and perform.

Music professionals have dealt with challenges in terms of rights, copyright infringement and illegal reproduction for decades. However, the online availability of materials has complicated issues in recent years. Rules that are extremely restrictive can challenge those who might invest in the work of recording artists. Rules that are not restrictive enough could result in the loss of revenue for these same artists. Musicians who have produced their own material might choose to consult with an attorney to learn more about established protections.

Source: U.S. Copyright Office, "Music Licensing Study", accessed on Feb. 8, 2015

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