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The Significance the New Music Copyright Case for Songwriters

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In last May, a very vital verdict was issued in San Diego, on the subject of long-lost copyrights. It is expected to have a huge favorable impact on the lives of musicians, especially the ones of the bygone era.


In the mid-1970s, an amendment was made to the law of copyright songs. It allowed songwriters to claims their creations back after a period of 35 years. This amendment aimed at assisting those composers who had previously made an ignorant decision of signing away the right of their songs to others.


The profound importance of this law was not realized by many as hardly anybody had reached the recommended 35-year mar. However, that was until this year. Now, a sudden rush is noticed in the trend where musicians of yesteryears are all in a hurry to reclaim their songs’ rights. And the list of these musicians includes some big names like Dylan, Springsteen, Joel, and the Eagles to name a few.


It must be mentioned here that the aforementioned amendment held a clause which explained that in case the songwriter who signed away his/her rights was hired at the time (by a music company), then they would not be eligible to use this law.


Keeping this clause in consideration, numerous music publishing companies started claiming that every one of these composers who had previously signed away their song rights, were actually working for the music label at the time of signing the deeds and thus were unfit to use this law on copyright music.


This law was first tested by the case from San Diego. Understandably, the judge over-ruled the music company’s causes, stating that just signing away the song rights by the composer does not signify that the composer was working for the company at that time. The court also explained that “working for a company” means that the composer had to be employed by the music or publishing company during the signing of the rights.


This law on copyright song and the San Diego court’s verdict has thus smoothened the path for those composers who had signed away the rights of their songs to music companies over 35 years back and now want to get those rights back!


© Copyright 2012


About Author

Titao Plaza is a well known music critic. He has written many informative articles on the need and ways to copyright songs. To read some similar articles by the author on copyright music, please visit:


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  • Posted On July 25, 2012
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