Rights and Licensing Terms
Synchronization or "Synch"
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
Public Performance or Performance
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.
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
The Harry Fox Agency
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New York, New York 10017
"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]
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
(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
"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.