Value of Intellectual Property for Music Bands

First Publication Date: 6th January 2010

The potential Intellectual property usually goes unnoticed by the Band itself and the impact of the same is generally realized only when the same is infringed. Hence, the protection of various intellectual properties becomes quintessential for the development and revenue generation of the Band.

Some of the basic types of Intellectual Property that must be protected by a band that will be dealt in this post include:

A. Trade Marks; and

B. Copyrights.

A. Trade Marks

The first intellectual property of a Band is born with naming the Band. The name of a band is very important because people will associate the quality of music created to the name of the band. In other words, the quality of the music is associated with the name under which it is created. Protecting the name under what is called as ‘trade mark’ allows the band to protect its rights with respect to the name of the band and quality or good will that is associated with it. It also helps the band to prevent others from using the same or similar name for their band, music releases, performances and so on.

In order to protect its rights with respect to the name, a music band must file for trade mark registration. Though rights over a trade mark may be acquired even without registration, such rights are weak to begin with and difficult to enforce. A trade mark can be in form of a ‘word’, ‘image’ or ‘logo’. A Trademark can be registered with the Registrar of Trademarks, whose are presently located at Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Ahmadabad. The application for registration may be filed online. For further details about the registration of Trademarks please visit

B. Copyrights

The primary intellectual property of a band is their music. It includes musical compositions, lyrics, notations, sound recordings, videos, art work and so on. Such works of a band may be protected under the copyright law. Protection under the copyright law allows the band to prevent others from copying, distributing, publicly performing or modifying the music or other works without the permission of the band. Copyright protection lasts for a period of life of the author (Creator) plus 60 years in case of Musical work and 60 years from the date of publication in case of videos and sound recordings.

A copyright is easy to register and the same can be registered by the author himself. There are 2 possible mechanisms for registration of the copyright. The author can either send the hard copy of the application to the copyright office, or file the application online on the website of Copyright Office. You may visit for more information. The fee for registration of a copyright is very nominal and the fee schedule for the same is provided on .

By registering a copyright a band can protect both economic right as well as moral rights in the work. Economic rights are right to exploit the copyrighted work. Such rights include the right to copy, distribute, reproduce, modify and publicly perform the work. These rights are exclusive rights, which only the band that owns the copyright can exercise with respect to the work. The band can prevent any other person from exercising any of the rights without permission. For example, if a band composes music, a person who wishes to play the music must take the permission of the band. The band may charge for giving such permission and gain commercially. If any person plays a song without permission, the band can make such a person liable for copyright infringement.

Moral rights protect the non-commercial rights and interest in the work. Such rights include the right to authorship and integrity of the work. For example, A Band “X” composes music and permits another Band “Y” to publicly perform the music, the Band “Y” cannot state that it is its music and must attribute the music to Band Y. It must be noted here that the transfer of economic rights and moral rights and related conditions may be agreed by the parties through a license agreement.

Copyright protection will come into existence as soon as a work is created and registration is not compulsory to acquire copyright protection. However, registration of a copyright enables the copyright owner to enforce his rights easily in a court as opposed to an unregistered copyright owner.

Copyright Notice

A band must incorporate a copyright notice stating that it owns copyrights with respect to its music whenever it is distributed or made available in any manner to any person. Such notice will play an important role in helping the band inform others that it is claiming copyrights over its music and to enforce its copyrights.

A simple copyright notice is provided hereunder:

Copyright, xxx (Name of the Band), xxx (Year of Creation) – Copyright, Pitch Black Symphony, 2010. The sample notice provided indicates that the band Pitch Black Symphony is the owner of the copyright with respect to the work and the work was created in 2010.

The notices may be provided on the envelope (packaging) containing the CD/DVD/ Cassette of the Music, the lyrics, on the websites from where the music or the lyrics can be downloaded, the advertisement for the music, as announcement before the live concerts, etc.

If a music band is making music available on the internet for download, it is important to incorporate appropriate notices on the website indicating the conditions under which the music is made available.

Third Party Copyrights

A band must take necessary steps in order to avoid using copyrighted music or third parties. Such music of third parties must be used only after taking appropriate permission or license from the third party. Some times music is available on the internet without any conditions. In such a case, the band must avoid using such music for any purpose. If music is available under any license such as creative commons license and so on, the band must take appropriate measures to follow conditions of such license. Copying music amounts to infringement and may prove to be very expensive for a band. Appropriate legal advice must be taken by the band before using any third party music or materials.

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