Interview with A. Knauf (Music lawyer)
Name: Andreas Knauf (Music lawyer)
City: Darmstadt/ Germany
JB Beats: Probably the topical question for many musicians whether to protect their music, their ideas? What benefit do the musicians get from this?
Andreas Knauf: According to German Copyright law, you get protection of your musical work with the act of creation of the musical work. Not protected are pure ideas and concepts due to the lack of perception. You have to make your musical ideas perceptible.
After creation of a musical work, you get the rights of the copyright owner. Means moral right, copyright and exploitations rights concerning the musical work. E.g. Right of being named as author/ Right of reproduction, performing right, right to make available to the public, broadcasting rights, right of communication by video or audio recordings, right of communication of broadcast etc.
If you are also performing artist, you get neighbouring rights due to German Copyright law.
JB Beats: Whom do you need to contact in this regard: a lawyer or a notary?
Andreas Knauf: You can contact a lawyer if have questions how to protect your rights as author or performing artist. But it’s not a must.
JB Beats: How can you protect your creation? How does it work?
Andreas Knauf: As I said before: The musical work/ creation is protected with the act of creation. If you want to have a better proof to prove the date of the creation of the musical work, some artists send registered letters to themselves including the musical work on CD and do not open the letter.
JB Beats: What must you do in the case of rights violations when your music was copied?
Andreas Knauf: If someone infringes your copyright / exploitation rights, the first thing you should do is to secure evidences. Make screenshots (including date/ time stamps on it) which show the infringement, try to get a copy of the sound-carrier or sound-file, which in all probability is infringing your copyright.
After securing the evidences, you can try to contact a lawyer to discuss further steps. The usual reaction to a copyright infringement is the writing warning to get a signed cease and desist declaration by the infringer. If your copyright is infringed you have several kinds of legal claims (according to German Copyright law), like injunctive relief, right to information, damage claim, reimbursement of expenses, claim for destruction etc.
But before starting legal steps it is important to look at the big picture in order to spot different options for actions. The writing warning must not be the first option. It depends on the form of the infringement and the infringer.
JB Beats: A controversial issue: refine please if you send a CD with your music to your own address by mail is it an effective way of protection or made-up myth?
Andreas Knauf: See above…
JB Beats: What is your advice to the beginner musicians?
Andreas Knauf: The most musicians have to learn that acting in the music-business has not only to do with being creative, composing, and making music. It has also to do with organizing, understanding business issues, to be informed how the music-business is working, and which players are acting and which tools are existing (like labels, publishing companies, collecting societies, like GEMA, GVL, C3S, distributing companies, content aggregators, managers, social media companies, marketing and promotion companies, ISRC, LC-Code, monetization of videos or content, radio, internet etc.). So it’s important to learn the business side of music business and exploitation of music.
As independent musician / label, the main problem is to sell the music and to bring the music to the potential customers. So it’s important to analyse your kind music and your potential target group to get an impression what is working and what is not working (Vinyl, digital-only, merchandise, specific promotion and marketing tools etc.). A good position is if you are acting within a special-music-scene and/ or within a growing network. Building an own fan base is one of the main points that must be implemented.
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