Music Law Research Guide
This guide provides resources relevant to legal issues commonly faced by artists and the music industry, such as copyright, licensing, and antitrust law.
This research guide provides resources relevant to legal issues commonly faced by artists and the music industry, such as copyright, licensing, and antitrust law. It includes both primary and secondary sources, but is focused on U.S. law and does not include foreign or international materials. It also includes sources which you can use to find news or background information about the music industry.
The following resources provide good introductions to the music industry and the legal issues it most commonly faces:
- Entertainment Law in a Nutshell (KF4290.Z9 B88 2013) (3d ed.)
- All You Need to Know About the Music Business (ML3790 .P35 2012) (8th ed.)
- Music Business: Infrastructure, Practice and Law (K4375.M87 N54 2004)
- The Truth About The Music Business: A Grassroots Business And Legal Guide (ML3790 .M59 2005 Electronic) (Online only)
- Music Law for the General Practitioner (KF4291 .L43 2013)
Primary Law Resources
For information on researching U.S. case law generally, see Georgetown Law Library's Case Law Research Guide or the Case Law Research Tutorial. Additional sources for finding court opinions dealing with music law include the following:
- Media Law Reporter (KF2750 .A513) (1977-2006, now cancelled)
A weekly reporting service which includes select federal and state court opinions relevant to media law practitioners.
- Entertainment Law: Cases and Materials on Film, Television, and Music (KF4290.A7 B87 2004)
- Entertainment Law: Cases and Materials (KF4290.A7 C36 1998)
- Entertainment, Media, and the Law: Text, Cases, Problems (KF4290.A7 W45 2011)
For information on researching U.S. statutory law generally, see Georgetown Law Library's Statutes Research Guide or the Statutory Research Tutorial. Additional sources for finding statutes dealing with music law include the following:
- Title 17 of the United States Code contains the text of current federal copyright law. The following is a selected list of important copyright statutes:
- Copyright Act of 1909, Pub. L. No. 60-349, 35 Stat. 1075 (1909)
- Sound Recording Act of 1971, Pub. L. No. 92-140, 85 Stat. 391 (1971)
- Copyright Act of 1976, Pub. L. No. 94-553, 90 Stat. 2541 (1976)
- Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996)
- Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Pub. L. No. 105 - 304, 112 Stat. 2860 (1998)
- Enforcement of Intellectual Rights Act of 2008 (Pro-IP Act), Pub. L. No. 110-403, 122 Stat. 4256 (2008)
- Title 15 of the U.S. Code contains the text of three major antitrust statutes:
- Sherman Antitrust Act, ch. 647, 26 Stat. 209 (1890)
- Clayton Act, ch. 323, Pub. L. No. 63-212, 38 Stat. 730 (1914)
- Federal Trade Commission Act, ch. 311, 38 Stat. 717 (1914)
- Other statutes:
- Trademark Act of 1946 ("Lanham Act"), ch. 540, Pub. L. No.79-489, 60 Stat. 427 (1946)
- California Civil Code Section 3344 (Right of publicity)
- California Penal Code Section 653w (Failure to disclose origin of recording or audiovisual work)
- New York Civil Rights Law Sec. 50 &51 (Right of privacy and action for damages)
Select federal regulations relevant to the music industry:
- 37 C.F.R. secs. 200-299
Regulations promulgated by the Copyright Office, Library of Congress.
- 37 C.F.R. secs. 300-399
Regulations promulgated by the Copyright Royalty Board, Library of Congress.
- 47 C.F.R. secs. 70-79
Regulations promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission dealing with broadcast radio services.
Treatises & Other General Works
These titles deal broadly with copyright, licensing agreements, and other areas of law which affect the entertainment industry generally.
- Antitrust Law: An Analysis of Antitrust Principles & Their Application (Areeda & Hovenkamp) (KF1649 .A7) (3rd ed., 2006 - )
This is a nineteen-volume loose leaf publication which includes in-depth examinations of thousands of cases. Updated with supplements and revisions. Appendices include reprints of selected statutes and antitrust guidelines.
- Entertainment Law: Legal Concepts and Business Practices (KF4290.S44 2006) (3rd ed., 2006-2007, now cancelled)
"This five volume set is a complete reference for business attorneys who structure entertainment deals, negotiate contracts or litigate disputes involving the entertainment industry."
- Westlaw: Entertainment Law 3d
- Lindey on Entertainment, Publishing and the Arts: Agreements and the Law (KF2991.5 .L73 2004) (2004-2011, now cancelled)
"This treatise, updated three times yearly, provides coverage of entertainment law, mass communications, and the arts. Includes state-of-the-art forms and detailed guidance for drafting agreements."
- Nimmer on Copyright (KF2991.5.N5 1976) (1976-2014, now cancelled)
This ten-volume treatise is considered to be one of the most authoritative works on copyright law, covering constitutional, statutory and common law issues. Included are full-text of laws, regulations and international conventions and forms and jury instructions. There are also extensive citations to relevant primary and secondary authorities.
- Lexis: Nimmer on Copyright
The following titles deal more specifically with the music industry and/or its legal issues.
- Kohn on Music Licensing (KF3035 .K64 2010) (4th ed., 2010)
- Moser on Music Copyright (KF3035.Z9 M674 2006 Electronic) (Online only)
- Music On The Internet: Understanding The New Rights & Solving New Problems (KF390.5.M8 M87 2001)
- Promises To Keep: Technology, Law, And The Future Of Entertainment (KF3035 .F57 2004)
- Steal This Music: How Intellectual Property Law Affects Musical Creativity (KF3035 .D46 2006)
- Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal (K3 .A592)
- Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts (K3 .O381)
- Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal (K6 .O51)
- Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal (K8 .A868)
- Loyola Entertainment Law Review (K12 .O86)
- NYU Journal of Intellectual Property & Entertainment Law
- UCLA Entertainment Law Review (K25 .C12)
- University of Denver Sports & Entertainment Law Journal
- Villanova Sports & Entertainment Law Journal (K26 .I4392)
- Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal (K26 .I76)
News & Current Awareness
These current awareness publications are heavily used by attorneys to keep up with recent cases, proposed legislation, and developments within their practice areas.
- Media Law Reporter (KF2750 .A513) (1977-2006, now cancelled)
- Patent, Trademark & Copyright Law Daily
- Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal (KF2976.5 .B95) (1973-2008, now cancelled)
- Antitrust and Trade Regulation Daily
- Antitrust and Trade Regulation Report (KF1649.A1 B8) (1961-2008, now cancelled)
- Intellectual Property Library
The following sources are designed to assist students taking substantive law classes in areas relevant to the music industry:
- Copyright: Examples and Explanations (KF2995 .M35 2012)
Copyright law examples and explanations are provided in this four-part work. It includes an overview of copyright, copyrightable subject matter, ownership and transactions, statutory rights, and copyright litigation. Examples in the work are drawn from judicial opinions, news reports and student questions.
- Entertainment Law in a Nutshell (KF4290.Z9B88 2013)
This nutshell provides an overview of the complexities of the entertainment industry. Topics covered include intellectual property, publicity, contracts, estate planning and First Amendment issues unique to the field.
- Intellectual Property and Unfair Competition in a Nutshell (KF1610.M35 2013)
This study guide provides an understanding of the creation of specific intellectual property rights as well as the determination of a commercial wrong. It discusses the historical inter-relationship between intellectual property law and the law of unfair competition.
- Intellectual Property: Patents, Trademarks and Copyright in a Nutshell (KF2980.M52 2012)
A four-part study aid, focusing on the foundations and practice of patent, trademark and copyright law. Part 1V gives limited treatment to global intellectual property. Table of cases included.
- Understanding Copyright Law (KF2994.L43 2010)
A comprehensive study aid on copyright, which examines, among other issues, factual works, works made for hire, parody of fair use and software protection. Part 111 is a comparative analysis of copyright, patent and trademark law. A fairly comprehensive overview of international copyright is also provided in Chapter 12. Includes tables of cases and statutes.
- American Bar Association, Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries
The Forum describes itself as ,the largest national organization in the entertainment and sports law area. It has ten divisions devoted to specialty areas, including a Music & Personal Appearances division, and a Motion Pictures, Television, Cable, and Radio division.
- American Federation of Musicians (AFM)
Labor union representing the interests of professional musicians in the United States and Canada.
- American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)
ASCAP is a "membership association of more than 300,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists, and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP is the only U.S. performing rights organization created and controlled by composers, songwriters and music publishers, with a Board of Directors elected by and from the membership."
- Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)
Like ASCAP, BMI is a performance rights organization that collects music performance royalties on behalf of recording artists, songwriters and performers.
- Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
EFF is a non-profit advocacy group involved in litigation and lobbying for the public interest and civil liberties in the digital world.
- Future of Music Coalition
"Future of Music Coalition is a national nonprofit organization that works to ensure a diverse musical culture where artists flourish, are compensated fairly for their work, and where fans can find the music they want."
- Music Publishers Association
Industry association representing the interests of sheet music publishers.
- Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
Provides information on the issues affecting the recording industry and access to results of research by the RIAA.
- Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)
Labor union representing performers, journalists, and artists in entertainment and news media.
- Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC)
Although it is smaller than both ASCAP and BMI, SESAC is a third music performance rights organization in the United States.
SoundExchange is similar to ASCAP and other performance rights organizations, and collects royalties for digital performances on satellite radio, Internet radio, and cable television.
Further Research Tools
The Georgetown Law Library has a number of other research guides that may be relevant to music law research, such as:
Updated January 2014 (CC)
Updated April 2015 (AG)
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