Many hip-hop producers “lease” or licence their beats. But, from what I see in the course of my practice, some producers are not taking the best approach to maximize their licensing strategies and protect themselves and their business from threats of litigation.
Should you register your copyrights? Probably.
Registering your copyrights with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) creates a presumption of ownership in the work, and serves as a time stamp for when the work was created. Most importantly, copyright registrations can be used in court as evidence of ownership. The process is easy, you don’t have to send anything in to CIPO, it costs $50 and can be done on-line. Once registered, your work will be listed in the publicly accessible CIPO Copyrights Database.
Congressmen Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) have put forth the Allocation for Music Producers Act (AMP, H.R. 1457), (AMP Act) an act designed to create a statutory framework for producers, mixers and engineers to be paid a partial royalty for the songs they work on.
The bill would permit artists (via a letter of direction) to designate a portion of the 45% royalty rate they receive for digital broadcasts of their songs to the song’s producer(s). Recall that, in the United States, performers and record companies only receive royalties for sound recordings which are broadcast digitally – terrestrial broadcasts, e.g. radio, do not pay a sound recording royalty (but, of course, radio does pay for broadcasting music, meaning the underlying song or musical composition).
Producer agreements: if you’re creating or remixing a song or a beat for someone else, you should have a producer agreement in place. Why? An agreement will address certain key issues, such as the scope of the project and delivery, ownership of the Master, royalties, credit, and rights to use any remixes or versions of the song/beat. A contract is a must when dealing with any reputable label, artist or publisher, and especially anytime there is significant money and time involved.
Here are a few points to which you should pay attention…