Copyright protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. It allows an original work to be considered a property that is owned by somebody. The framework for Copyright Law is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (‘the Act’).

When does copyright begin?


In music, copyright begins automatically once a piece of music is created, and documented or recorded (eg. on video, Pan drive, SD card, tape or CD or simply writing down the notation of a score).

How do you protect your music as a songwriter?


Currently, no official form of registration is available. In the UK, all original music is protected by copyright from the time it is recorded/written down in some format. It is important to be able to prove that you own the copyright of a particular recording. To do this we suggest the following:

  • Send a copy of the recording to yourself by ‘Special Delivery’. Clearly mark the envelope so you know what music it holds but keep it sealed.
  • Store a copy with your solicitor or bank manager. Remember to keep a receipt and be aware that this method is likely to cost you some money.

What are your rights as a copyright owner?


If you own the copyright you possess the sole authority to:

  • copy the music
  • issue, lend or rent copies to the public
  • perform, show or play the music in public
  • communicate the music to the public (i.e. broadcasting it via TV, radio, Internet etc.)