Thursday, February 24, 2011

Does a music producer own the copyright in a band's sound recording

Dear Rich: Help us out here. My band wants to register the copyright in our recording but we're not sure who to list as owner. Is it the producer, or the band, or do we split it? There's no definite answer for your band because determining the ownership of a sound recording copyright (as with a songwriting copyright) depends on the contributions made by each person. Usually, yes, a producer is co-author of the recording because the producer performs a wide range of tasks including performing, arranging, and mixing. (That's why they get paid the not-so-big bucks.) On the other hand, as happened in a case involving the White Stripes, a co-producer who set up mics and chose reverb settings did not have a claim to copyright because his contributions were not considered sufficiently creative. And of course, just because you produced or played on the recording, doesn't mean you own copyright -- for example, record companies routinely require producers and musicians to assign all their rights back to the company. This guarantees that the record company can claim sound recording copyright. P.S. Here's one producer we love.