question.jpgIn Copyrights

What qualifies as a sound recording?

The Copyright Act defines a sound recording as work which is a fixation of music, spoken information or other sounds. However, this category does not include the sounds that accompany a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as these fall within the motion picture and audiovisual works category. Examples of sound recordings include a band’s song recorded onto a CD or an audio recording of a piano recital.

The author of a sound recording is the musician who actually records the music (or possibly the record label producing the record), whereas the author of a musical work is the musician who composes the music and writes the lyrics. Thus, for a CD, there are generally two copyrights for every song - one for the musical work, and one for the actual sound recording embodied on the disc.

The exclusive rights that are granted to a sound recording are actually more limited than the rights granted to other categories of works. For example, the exclusive right to make copies is limited to making copies of the actual recorded sounds (so if I hire a band to re-record the song, I am not infringing the sound recording copyright, although I am probably violating the musical work copyright). In addition, the exclusive right to public performance is limited to performance via digital audio transmission.