Jack Perry
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We sat down with Jamie Gilmour, the Director of Emubands and Rightsbridge, to talk about how music copyright issues can affect content creators in Scotland's arts and cultural sector.

A copyright conversation

You can watch our Copyright Conversation with Jamie below. Click the CC button in the video player to view the captions, or read the transcript of the video below.

Q: What do creators need to consider when using music in their content?

So now more than ever, people have easy access to tools and platforms designed to help them create original content. However, sometimes this content contains pre-existing materials that are protected by copyright. The inclusion of an existing piece of music in a new work is a common example of this. That’s why content creators need to ask themselves: what pre-existing copyrights are included within their creations, and who owns those rights? If they do not have the necessary permissions or licences in place to use that material, they may need to acquire them.

What kind of copyright works exist?

The UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 protects literary works, dramatic works, musical works and artistic works. And it also protects sound recordings, films, broadcasts and typographical arrangements. With regards to the most common forms of music copyright you’re most likely to encounter, is the right to protect music (the composition and any lyrics are included in that) and there’s a separate right that protects sound recordings. Now, each of these rights may have multiple owners, and it may be that each right has different owners. They don’t have to match. So I would always be careful when using different material and you’re using different rights that you identify all of the owners.

What do you mean by license?

So, license is simply the process of acquiring permission to use another person’s copyright-protected material. By that, I mean if you plan to copy, rent, lend, issue copies of, broadcast, perform, show or adapt someone else’s copyrights, you’ll likely need their permission. Now to get that permission, you would either contact the relevant copyright collection society, like PRS, PPL or MCPS, or in certain cases you would directly contact the copyright owner.

For the most part, if you are adapting a work, then you generally need to contact the copyright owner. But not always. So generally what I would do is contact the copyright collection societies first, and if they can’t issue you a licence for the thing that you need then you would need to go directly to the holder. And another side of it is that it’s sometimes territory-specific. So there are some PRS licences that can be international. There are others that are others that are only in the UK. So if you needed a licence internationally across a number of different usages, then sometimes it’s easier just to go directly to the actual copyright owner, and get them to issue you that, rather than going through the collection society and getting multiple licences across multiple territories.


Thanks to Jamie Gilmour, Emubands and Rightsbridge.

Theme music by Drew Hammond of Mesura Music. He’s on Twitter @DrYouHammond.

Information about Culture Republic staff members that had a hand in making this video can be found on our Team pages. Find Culture Republic on Twitter @culture_public.

  • Video production by Jack Perry, Culture Republic Marketer
  • Interview by Ashley Smith Hammond, Culture Republic Content Producer

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Main image credit: Violins with music by Photo Phiend (cropped) (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)