What is music law?

The term music law is essentially a sub-species of what is known more generally as entertainment law. Entertainment law is the body of law and legal principles that have developed and evolved in the course of conducting the businesses which are known as branches of the "entertainment industry." Much of entertainment law falls into two main groups:

Litigation: the law of intellectual property consisting of copyright law, trademark law, trade secrets, libel and slander (defamation), and the right of privacy and publicity; and

Transaction: laws pertaining to business organizations and commercial transactions including the body of law relevant to contracts, partnership, tax, corporations, securities, labor and international law.

The principal branches in the entertainment industry are, music, publishing, motion picture, television, sports, and theater. Each of these sub-industries has its own unique features and characteristics in common with the others.

Music law is, thus, a specialized area of entertainment law for one of the main branches of entertainment industry - the "music industry". The music business in turn is composed of many sub-divisions including recording, publishing, concert promotion, talent management, and merchandising. The primary two are the selling of sound recordings and music publishing.

In summary, music law consists of a wide variety of legal concepts, rules, statutes, regulations, case law, practices, customs, and legal principles which have a particular application to the creation, production, distribution, and marketing of musical intellectual properties.

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(Reprinted with permission of Ruben Salazar, Esq.)