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Synchronization Rights

Rights and Licensing Terms

Synchronization or "Synch" Rights
A synchronization or "synch" right involves the use of a recording of musical work in audio-visual form: for example as part of a motion picture, television program, commercial announcement, music video or other videotape. Often, the music is "synchronized" or recorded in timed relation with the visual images. Synchronization rights are licensed by the
music publisher to the producer of the movie or program.

Public Performance or Performance Rights
A public performance is one that occurs "in a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered." A public performance also occurs when the performance is
transmitted by means of any device or process (for example, via broadcast, telephone wire, or other means) to the public. In order to perform a copyrighted work publicly, the user must obtain performance rights from the copyright owner or his representative.

Mechanical Rights
A mechanical right is the right to record and distribute (without visual images) a song on a phonorecord for private use. Mechanical rights or a mechanical license must be obtained in order to lawfully make and distribute records, CD's and tapes. Recording rights for most music publishers can be obtained from

The Harry Fox Agency
205 East 42nd Street
New York, New York 10017

Blanket License
"Blanket license" is a license which allows the music user to perform any or all of over 8.5 million songs in the ASCAP repertory as much or as little as they like. Licensees pay an annual fee for the license. The blanket license saves music users the paperwork, trouble and expense of finding and negotiating licenses with all of the copyright owners of the works that might be used during a year and helps prevent the user from even inadvertently infringing on the copyrights of ASCAP's members and the many foreign writers whose music is licensed by ASCAP in the U.S. [see also
Per Program License]

Dramatic or Grand Rights or Dramatic Performances
ASCAP members do not grant ASCAP the right to license dramatic performances of their works. While the line between dramatic and non dramatic is not clear and depends on the facts, a dramatic performance usually involves using the work to tell a story or as part of a story or plot. Dramatic performances, among others, include:

(i) performance of an entire "dramatico-musical work." For example a performance of the musical play Oklahoma would be a dramatic performance.

(ii) performance of one or more musical compositions from a "dramatico-musical work" accompanied by dialogue, pantomime, dance, stage action, or visual representation of the work from which the music is taken. For example a performance of "People Will Say We're In Love" from Oklahoma with costumes, sets or props or dialogue from the show would be dramatic.

(iii) performance of one or more musical compositions as part of a story or plot, whether accompanied or unaccompanied by dialogue, pantomime, dance, stage action or visual representation. For example, incorporating a performance of "If I Loved You" into a story or plot would be a dramatic performance of the song.

(iv) performance of a concert version of a "dramatico-musical work." For example, a performance of all the songs in Oklahoma even without costumes or sets would be a dramatic performances.

The term "dramatico-musical work" includes, but is not limited to, a musical comedy, oratorio, choral work, opera, play with music, revue or ballet.

ASCAP has the right to license "non-dramatic" public performances of its members' works - for example, recordings broadcast on radio, songs or background music performed as part of a movie or other television program, or live or recorded performances in a bar or restaurant.

Dramatic and grand rights are licensed by the composer or the publisher of the work.

Per Program License
A "per program" license is similar to the
blanket license in that it authorizes a radio or television broadcaster to use all the works in the ASCAP repertory. However, the license is designed to cover use of ASCAP music in a specific radio or television programs, requiring that the user keep track of all music used. Also, the user must be certain to obtain rights for all the music used in programs not covered by the license.