1. What is a controlled composition clause and what does it mean to the songwriter?
A: The industry negotiated rate of 8.3 cents can sometimes be voluntarily reduced if the songwriter is the artist or if the record is sold through a discount music club. The songwriter and the publisher would have to agree to this reduced rate during the negotiation period with the record company in order for the Controlled Composition Clause to be exercised.
2. How do you copyright a song?
A: Copyright happens as soon as it’s created and fixed to a medium (paper, CD, Record etc.) from which it can be reproduced. Even though copyright begins at creation you should still make steps toward protecting your intellectual property. The most inexpensive way is mailing yourself a copy of the song with lyrics included as well as the date it was written, writers involved and the recording date. Send it via registered mail and then do not open the package and file it, this way if there is any confusion in regards to who wrote the song first you have proof. The second way is by immediately joining a performing rights and mechanical rights society and registering the song with them. SOCAN and CMRRA would charge a small fee but would ensure that all performance and mechanical royalties attached to the song would be collected and there would be a record of when the song was registered.
3. I want to record someone else’s song. What do I have to do?
A: If you would like to record someone else’s song you would contact the CMRRA (Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Association) and obtain a mechanical license before you record and manufacture the product. The cost for a pay-as-you-press mechanical license is on a basis of 8.3 cents per unit for titles running 5min or less with $1.54 added for every additional min.
4. How do I find the publisher of a work?
A: The best ways to find a publisher for a work is to contact SOCAN (416-445-8700) or visit CMRRA’s website at www.cmrra.ca and click on the database section. There you can type in the name of the work and if it’s there the publisher name will be there as well. You can also contact CMRRA by phone or email as they probably represent the work you’re researching and can help you find what you’re looking for.
5. How can I tell if a work is still protected by copyright?
A: In Canada, copyright for a written work is life of the composer/author plus 50yrs, after that term the title then goes into public domain where a license is not needed for use of the song. If there is more then one writer then the copyright is life of the last surviving writer plus 50yrs. If you want to know whether a title is in the public domain you can either go to either the CMRRA website or contact them by phone or email or contact SOCAN.
6. What is the term of copyright in Canada, compared to the US and the UK?
A. Copyright in Canada is until last author dies plus 50 years, whereas in the US, it is until last author dies plus 70 years. The UK is a little more detailed. Published crown copyright works are in copyright until 50 years after they were first published. If the author of the copyright assigned the work to the Crown, then it would go into public domain 70 years after the authors’ death. Unpublished Crown Copyrights do not enter the public domain until 125 years after the title was created.
7. What does PD or Public Domain mean?
A. After a work enters the Public Domain, it is now free to use without having to pay fees to the original publisher/copyright owner.
8. What does MNF, or Most Favoured Nations mean?
A. Most Favoured Nations means that all works on the production/cd/etc will get the same fee.
9. Why are mechanical and performance rates different in Canada and the US?
A. Each territory has to negotiate its own rates with its copyright board.