Copyright Law Thesis

Pages: 25 (9076 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 30  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Law

Copyright Law and the Music Industry: A Paralegal's Role

History of the Copyright Act

Cases That Shaped Copyright Law and Interpretation

Understanding Common Law Copyright and Statutory Copyright

The Basic Rights of Copyright Ownership

Exceptions and Special Cases

F. Copyright Terms of Protection

G. Registration Issues

Analysis of the Paralegal's Role

H. The Anatomy of an Infringement Case

F the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1988

G. The Paralegal and Infringement

History of the Copyright Act

Cases That Shaped Copyright Law and Interpretation

Understanding Common Law Copyright and Statutory Copyright

The Basic Rights of Copyright Ownership

Exceptions and Special Cases

Copyright Terms of Protection

Registration Issues

Analysis of the Paralegal's Role

The Anatomy of an Infringement Case

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1988

The Paralegal and Infringement




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Thesis on Copyright Law Assignment

The paralegal choosing to specialize in the music industry must be well versed in both subject matters. It is important to have a strong background the music industry. They must also have a thorough understanding of copyright law and the legal precedents that govern enforcement of the law today. The paralegal is one of the most valuable members of the musician's team. This research examined the importance of a dual background for the paralegal wishing to enter into the music business. Through an examination of the statutes themselves, case law, and specific examples related to the music industry, this research demonstrated that in order to succeed the paralegal must possess a strong background in the music industry, in addition to a strong legal background.

Copyright Law and the Music Industry: a Paralegal's Role


Just as others in the legal profession often choose to specialize in a particular area of the law, paralegals can choose to specialize also. The music industry offers a unique opportunity for specialization within the legal profession. The music industry is a diverse field that employs songwriters, instrumentalists, producers, sound engineers, technicians, back-up players, vocalists, marketers, broadcast specialists, and others involved in the business end of a musical production.

When one thinks of the specialists and people involved in the production of a recording for sale, the legal team is not even considered in the equation. However, legal professionals are an important element in the success of a creative endeavor. The music profession is inherently dependent upon contracts and making certain that the artist's rights and obligations are met in full. The paralegal is an important part of making the deal a success. The following research will explore the role of the paralegal in the music industry. This research will support the thesis that the paralegal specializing in the music industry must have a thorough understanding of music and the music industry, as well as the development of case law related to copyrights in order to succeed. It will emphasize the importance of a balanced understanding of both of these elements in determining the success or failure of the paralegal in resolving client problems.

The paralegal often acts as a liaison between the artist and the record company

. The job description of the paralegal in the music industry is much like any other in the paralegal profession. The typical day is spent drafting letters, filing copyright applications, drafting management and termination agreements, and summarizing agreements for clients

. Clients typically include musical groups, executives, and record companies

Although, anyone can pursue a career as a paralegal specializing in the music business, an in-depth understanding of the industry is imperative. They must also have a desire to keep current on industry news

. The music paralegal must have excellent communication and problem solving skills

. However, they cannot expect to gain much insight into this specialty by way of their college career. It is a specialty that is not taught in many paralegal programs

. The paralegal student can expect to take their basic curriculum and then try to get into the specialty working in a firm where they can learn the nuances of the profession. The music paralegal must learn all aspects of the music industry from creative rights to concessions rights

. There are many separate areas that the paralegal must learn to be an effective assistant to their attorney's clients. Most of all, the music paralegal must love music and the people that make it happen.

Literature Review

Although copyright law would appear to be a straightforward topic, as it is codified, many complex nuances make an understanding of the underlying legislature more complicated than one would think. The purpose of this literature review is to develop a thorough understanding of how modern copyright developed and the underlying principals behind it. Then we can determine how the current body of legislation applies to the music industry. Only then can we determine the role of the paralegal within the specialized legal framework. The first step in this process is to examine the history of copyright legislation and specific examples that apply to the music industry.

History of the Copy Right Act

The first copyright act in the United States was the Copyright Act of 1790. It gave the author exclusive rights to publish and sell written material. It limited the term of the copyright to 14 years. It was renewable if the author was still alive

. However, once an author was deceased, legal rights to his work were fair game. Protections under this statute were limited and did not include musical compositions, newspapers, or the works of foreign authors

. Copyright law changed over the years, as new forms of media and new means of duplication came into existence.

From the time of the Copyright Act of 1790 until the Copyright Act of 1976, the key modification to copyright law was a gradual lengthening of the term of the copyright from 14 years to 75 years

. The act stated that the term would be 75 years, or the life of the author plus 50 years. This new version of the act extended copyright to unpublished works. It placed reiterated that Federal Statutes were above state law. It also codified the doctrine that had developed from case law over the years.

It might be noted that although copyright law was not significantly changed during this period, certain important cases set precedent that all other courts used in their decision. For instance, White-Smith Music Pub. Co. v. Apollo Co (1908)

challenged the transposition of paper sheet music onto player piano rolls. White-Smith Music Publishing contended that reproduction of their sheet music using player piano rolls was copyright infringement. This case extended copyright law to included recorded sound instead of only the written word. The essence of copyright law existed in case law. Established precedent acted like adopted law and determined the outcome of cases.

The next major development in copyright law was the Berne Convention Act of 1988, which extended U.S. copyrights of U.S. works in countries that party to the convention

. A similar agreement, called the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) of 1994, restored U.S. copyright for certain foreign works

The Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 extended the terms of copyright to 95/120 years, or life plus 70 years

. Named after the famous singer, this act changed the way that a piece of music was treated in the eyes of the law. It solidified the idea that a musical piece is tangible property. The rights to that property are to be treated as any other piece of real property, including the concept that rights to the work can be passed to an heir through use of a Last Will and Testament. Rights to a piece of work can be inherited, sold, and are considered to be a marital asset. The Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act changed the way a piece of music is treated in the court system.

The age of the Internet changed the speed and scale of potential copyright infringement. It was now possible to pass on pieces of music, without regard to copyright, or payment of royalties, to millions of other people with the click of a mouse. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 made certain cases of copyright infringement a criminal act, and punishable just as any other form of theft

This act moved the idea of copyright infringement from civil court, where a person could be party to a lawsuit and monetary compensation, to the criminal courts where copyright infringement could become a jailable offense. This act increased the seriousness of copyright infringement and highlighted the idea of a musical piece of art as a tangible asset. Stealing a piece of music was now akin to taking a piece of art from a museum and selling it.

The last price of legislation to change the face of the music industry was the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005

. This act tightened criminal actions for copyright infringement. However, this act also permitted technology to "sanitize" works. It became an arguable… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Copyright Law" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Copyright Law.  (2008, September 29).  Retrieved January 16, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Copyright Law."  29 September 2008.  Web.  16 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Copyright Law."  September 29, 2008.  Accessed January 16, 2021.