Welcome to the "Musician's Guide" Series!
This series is pulled directly from the courses I've created for my university position in Music Business. All of these courses are designed for the everyday musician - amateur or professional - who has little or no knowledge on the topic, but wants to master it.
This class is all about Copyright.

It is ideal for anyone who has had an interest in copyright, or a need to understand copyright. Especially:

  • Creators: If you are making music, you need to understand your rights.
  • Consumers: If you are working with music, and want to know if you can copy a song, delete a song, or make a mashup of a song, this course is for you!
  • Musicians: If you are going to be recorded, you should understand how things will work when the recording is released, and what rights you have to your performance.
  • Producers: If you are using samples in your tracks, you need to understand copyright!
  • Curious Minds: Anyone interested in how copyright law works, where it comes from, and where it might be going is invited to be a part of this class.

In this class, we start with the most basic question: How do we define music? Once we have a definition, we start to look at how music is protected with copyright, ways that it isn't, and how to work with it for fun and profit. I'll walk you through every step of the issue and explain the logic behind every concept.
The goal of this class is for you to understand how to make copyright protection work for you.

This course is NOT specific to any DAW program.

The recording studio has no genre - so all are welcome here.
Topics Covered:

  • Defining Music
  • Melody and Uniqueness
  • Originality
  • "Independent Creation"
  • Tangibility
  • Copyright at the Constitution
  • Rights We Get
  • Intellectual Property
  • Copyright Term
  • Public Domain
  • History of Copyright
  • Work For Hire
  • Assignments
  • Licensing
  • First Sale Doctrine
  • Film, TV, and Game Licensing
  • Collaboration
  • Fair Use
  • Parody
  • Trademarks
  • Performing Group Names (Band Names)
  • Titles (Song Titles)
  • Right of Publicity
  • Contractual Rights
  • Exclusivity
  • Right of Refusal
  • Moral Rights
  • Creative Commons
  • CopyLeft
  • And much, much more!

Course Outline

  • Introduction & Overview
    • Introduction
    • What We are Covering Here
    • Tools You Will Need for This Class
    • Disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer
    • Disclaimer: Territories
  • What is Music?
    • Defining Music
    • Axis of Awesome
    • Melody and Uniqueness
    • Originality
    • Independent Creation
    • Music is Intangible
    • Definitions of Music
    • The Legal Definition of Music
  • What is Copyright?
    • Copyright in the Constitution
    • Rights We Get
    • Intellectual Property
    • Copyright Does Not Protect
  • Copyright Basics
    • Term
    • Public Domain
    • Why Put Something In The Public Domain?
    • History of Copyright
    • How to Get a Copyright
  • Work for Hire
    • What is Work For Hire?
    • Work For Hire Copyright Term
  • Assignments
    • What These Are
    • First Sale Doctrine
    • Licensing
    • Film and TV Licensing
    • Licensing “Houses”
  • Collaboration
    • Collaboration and Copyright
    • Presumption of Equal Ownership
    • How a Band Divides Copyright
  • Fair Use
    • The Fair Use Doctrine
    • Types of Fair Use
    • The 4 Factors
    • Example – Class Video
    • What a Lawyer Will Tell You About Fair Use
  • Parody
    • Misconceptions about Parody
    • Weird Al Yankovic
  • Trademarks
    • What is a Mark?
    • What is a Trade?
    • How to get a Trademark
    • My Trademarks
    • Trademark Symbols
  • Performing Group Names (Band Names)
    • Uniqueness
    • Filing
    • What About My Own Name?
  • Trademark and Fair Use
    • Does Fair Use Still Apply?
    • Example of Fair Use and Trademarks
  • Titles
    • Trademark and Titles of Works (Song Titles)
  • Right of Publicity
    • What is Right of Publicity
    • Tom Waits Example
    • Bette Midler Example
    • Frank Zappa Example
    • Protections
  • Contractual Rights
    • Your Contractual Rights
  • Exclusivity
    • Selling a Beat
    • Territory
    • Product Or Service
    • Duration
  • Right of First Negotiation / Refusal
    • Right of First Refusal
  • Moral Rights
    • Moral Rights
  • Creative Commons / CopyLeft
    • What is CopyLeft?
    • Core Principals
    • Get Creative Video
    • The C and CC
    • The Creative Commons Licenses
    • Databases of Works
  • Wrap Up
    • What Comes Next?
    • Thanks for Watching!

Course Information

Estimated Time: 4.5 Hours

Course Instructor

Jay Allen Author

J. Anthony Allen is an Ableton Certified Trainer, and a PhD in Music Composition and master of Electronic Sounds. His music has been heard internationally in film, radio, video games, and industrial sound, as well as the concert hall and theater. He currently is an adjunct professor of composition at the University of St. Thomas, and is the CEO and co-founder of Slam Academy in Minneapolis.



Members – Claim your seat now!
(Non-members redirected to purchase membership)

Introduction & Overview

What is Music?

What is Copyright?

Copyright Basics

Work for Hire



Fair Use



Performing Group Names (Band Names)

Trademark and Fair Use


Right of Publicity

Contractual Rights


Right of First Negotiation / Refusal

Moral Rights

Creative Commons / CopyLeft

Wrap Up

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