Are live concerts copyrighted?

The allure of live music is unparalleled, an intoxicating blend of booming bass, captivating performances, and the euphoria of a shared experience.

Yet, behind this euphonic symphony lies a critical question: Are live concerts copyrighted?

Understanding the intricate dance between live and copyright law is not only crucial for performers and promoters, but also for the attendees swaying in the crowd.

This blog post is set to unravel the complexities surrounding copyright laws as they pertain to live concerts.

Whether you’re an artist setting foot on the stage, a concert enthusiast, or simply curious about copyright rules, we’ve got you covered.

So, let’s step into the fascinating world of copyrights, and uncover the legal notes that play in harmony with our favourite live performances.

Live Concert Copyright Issues

Live concert copyright issues generally arise around two main areas: the song being performed and the recording of the performance.

Performing Copyrighted Music: In order for a live concert to legally include copyrighted song, the venue or organisers need to acquire a public performance license.

These licenses are typically issued by Performing Rights Organisations (PROs) such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC in the United States, and similar organisations exist worldwide.

The license gives the venue or organiser the right to perform songs in the PRO’s repertoire, which usually covers most commercially available songs.

If the performers play songs that isn’t covered by the venue’s or organiser’s license, they could be infringing on the copyright of the songwriters.

Recording and Broadcasting the Concert: Capturing the concert in any form (audio, video, etc.) and distributing it, whether through traditional means like DVDs or online through social media or streaming platforms, requires another set of permissions.

This could include synchronisation licenses (if the performance is put to video), mechanical licenses (for audio recordings), and possibly digital performance rights if the concert is streamed online.

Can We Use Copyrighted Clips of Music with Synchronisation License?

Yes, with a synchronisation (or “sync”) license, you can legally use copyrighted music clips in your own media productions, such as in the background of a video, as part of a film soundtrack, in advertisements, and so on.

A synchronisation license is an agreement between the copyright holder (usually the songwriter or their publisher) and another party that wants to “sync” the music with some kind of visual media output.

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This license allows the user to reproduce the copyrighted music in combination with visual media.

However, it’s important to note that the synchronisation license only covers the rights to the composition itself.

If you’re using a specific recording of a song (i.e., a certain artist’s rendition), you will also need a master license from the owner of that recording, typically a record label.

It’s also worth noting that the process of obtaining sync licenses is often complex, as you need to negotiate with the copyright holder directly.

The performing rights organisation that involved in issuing the licenses are ASCAP, BMI etc in the United States.

For these reasons, it’s always recommended to seek legal counsel or the services of a music licensing company when you’re planning to use copyrighted music in a project.

Are Live Concerts Copyrighted?

Yes, live concerts can be protected by copyright. The original music performed at the concert, the specific performance of the music by the artists, and any recordings of the concert can each be subject to separate copyrights owned by different parties.

Proper permissions and licenses are required to perform copyrighted music and to record and distribute the concert.

Music Composition: The songs that are performed at a live concert are likely protected by copyright.

These are typically owned by the songwriters or their music publishers. If a concert involves performing copyrighted songs, a public performance license is needed.

This license is generally obtained from a Performing Rights Organisation (PRO) such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC in the United States, or similar organisations in other countries.

Performance: The specific performance of the music by the artists at a live concert can also be protected by copyright.

This means that even if the underlying music is in the public domain, the performers’ unique interpretation of that music could be protected.

Unauthorised recording or broadcasting of these performances without permission could potentially infringe upon the performers’ rights.

Recording and Distribution: If a concert is recorded, the recording itself is a new work that can be protected by copyright.

This would typically be owned by the person or organisation that made the recording.

Distributing this recording (whether selling DVDs, streaming online, or any other form of distribution) would generally require permission from the copyright owner of the recording.

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Final Thoughts

In conclusion, while a live concert event itself is not subject to copyright, the various elements that comprise it, such as the music compositions, performances, and any resulting recordings, are indeed protected by copyright.

Copyright owners have the exclusive rights to control how their work is used, making it crucial to obtain the necessary permissions and licenses when organising, performing in, recording, or distributing live concerts.

As such, professional advice is recommended to navigate the complex landscape of copyright laws which can vary across different jurisdictions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a license to perform copyrighted music at a live concert?

Yes, a public performance license is typically required to perform copyrighted music at a live concert.

This can be obtained from a Performing Rights Organisation (PRO) such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC in the U.S., or similar organisations in other countries.

If I record a live concert, who owns the copyright to that recording?

The person or organisation that made the recording typically owns the copyright to it.

However, this doesn’t give them the right to distribute the recording without obtaining additional licenses from the copyright owners of the music performed and potentially the performers themselves.

Can I use a clip from a live concert in my own video project?

Using a clip from a live concert in your own video project would generally require a synchronisation license from the copyright owners of the music performed, a master license from the copyright owners of any pre-recorded music that is included, and possibly permission from the performers and the copyright owner of the recording.

Can I share a video of a live concert on social media?

Sharing a video of a live concert on social media without permission could infringe on multiple copyrights, including those of the songwriters, the performers, and the person who recorded the concert.

It’s always safest to ask for permission first.