Authorship, in the context of music, refers to the creation of a musical work and the attribution of legal rights to that work. Authors are typically the composers of the music and the writers of the lyrics, and they hold the copyright to their work from the moment of its creation. This concept is crucial in music copyright law, as it determines who has the right to control and monetize the work.
In music, a distinction is often made between the “musical work” (the composition itself, including any lyrics) and the “sound recording” (the specific recorded version of the work). Different individuals may hold authorship for these different aspects; for example, the author of a song might be a songwriter, while the author of a particular recording of that song might be the performing artist or their record label.
In the European Union and many other jurisdictions, the term “ownership” is often used interchangeably with “authorship.” It’s crucial to note that this doesn’t necessarily imply a financial or proprietary relationship; rather, it indicates the creator’s rights to control how their work is used, reproduced, and monetized. Authors or owners have exclusive rights to their works, which typically include the right to reproduce the work, to perform the work publicly, and to create derivative works.
For example, Paul McCartney and John Lennon are listed as the authors of the Beatles’ song “Hey Jude.” This means they hold the copyright to the musical work and can control how it’s used and distributed. However, the copyright to the sound recording of “Hey Jude” as performed by the Beatles might be owned by the band’s record label.
For a more thorough understanding, consider visiting the Authorship page on Wikipedia.