Copyright laws may seem straightforward on the surface, but they are quite complex the more you dig into them. This often poses some issues for people who want to use copyright protection and for those who want to use copyrighted material. One area where there is often a lot of misunderstandings is music copyrights.

Intellectual property rights are a complex area of law in general, but music copyright laws seem to be the most complex of them all. If you do not have a lot of knowledge about intellectual property protection, it can be daunting to try to figure these laws out. Here are a few basic concepts that will give you a bit of knowledge in this area.

Copyrights have an expiration

According to Digital Music News, under current copyright laws, which cover work created after January 1, 1978, you have protection until 70 years after you die. Because music is often a collaborative effort, the protection will last until 70 years after the death of the surviving co-creator.

Your rights

Under copyright, you retain the exclusive right to distribute and make your music. You have the sole authority to grant others permission to use your work or to create a variation of it. You also can stop someone else from using your work in violation of the copyright.

Music involves two creative works

A copyright will protect your creative work in that it makes it illegal for someone else to use it as her or his own creation. With music, you have the actual musical composition, including the music and lyrics, protected by one area of copyright law, and then you have the original sound recording, which also has protection. These are two separate copyrights.

These three points touch on music copyright law, but they certainly do not cover every aspect. If you create music, it is essential to understand the protections you have and how to enforce them. It often helps to work with someone who has knowledge of this field to help you best protect your work.