Copyright Basics (2 of 2)

The Harry Fox Agency website will also assist you in obtaining a mechanical license for instances where you want to record a musical composition in connection with a sound recording. The grant of a mechanical license is compulsory (i.e. if the song has already been recorded once, you cannot be denied permission) and that fee, the statutory rate, is set by statute. The current statutory rate is $.091 (9.1 cents) for a song up to five minutes in playing time.

A synchronization license (the right to use a musical composition in a television program, video or motion picture) and a master use license (the right to use a master recording in a television program, compilation sound recording, motion picture or video) are fiercely negotiable, both in terms (duration, use, medium(s), etc.) and fees for use. Please refer to this website with information on how my firm can assist you in obtaining synch and master licenses for your project.

The rights granted to copyright owners are also limited in time. After the expiration of that time, the work falls into the "public domain", which means that anyone can use or copy the work without permission or payment.

  • Works created after 1978 are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years. If there is more than one author, the term is 70 years after the death of the last surviving author.
  • A "work made for hire" is protected 95 years from date of publication or 120 years from creation, whichever comes first. A "work made for hire" is a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his employment or a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as contribution to a collective work, such as a motion picture. For copyright purposes, the employer is considered the "author" of work and in all instances, a work for hire must be reduced to a writing to be valid.
  • The term of copyright in foreign territories differs based on each country so a work could go into the public domain in the United States and still be protected in foreign territories.

The copyright registration of your work can be done quickly and relatively inexpensively through the U.S. Copyright Office website, The proper registration of your work can provide you with greater damages in the event of an infringement.

Please contact my office and let me assist you in protecting your intellectual property.



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