Music Business Law

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Course Code: OMBUS-595

Next Term Starts July 1

3-Credit Tuition

$2,760

Non-Credit Tuition

$2,560

In this course, you will analyze the most important legal issues in the contemporary music industry, including how these issues began, how they have evolved, and where they are headed. You will explore copyright law, including fair use and public domain, and how it affects sampling, interpolation, and mashups. The course explores contracts related to songwriting, 360° deals, revenue sharing, and more, in addition to legal documents related to bands, booking, and touring. You will also explore contemporary and new means of creating and disseminating music, including streaming audio/video and augmented/virtual reality, and explore associated legal implications. By the end of the course, you will have the analytical skills to evaluate a broad range of issues in the industry and evaluate competing sides of contracts in order to author favorable conditions for any side in a negotiation involving aspects of the music and entertainment industry. 

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By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Analyze legal issues in a broad range of areas connected to the music and entertainment industry, including songwriting, recording, touring, distribution, and technology
  • Evaluate various issues related to bands, including what constitutes fair and equitable agreements between artists and managers, responsibilities of departing and remaining band members, and the importance of the band unit and band name 
  • Assess various songwriting and publishing conditions, terms, durations, compensation, duties, responsibilities, and contracts
  • Evaluate concert riders and contracts, in addition to the legal responsibilities of venue owners and managers
  • Author favorable conditions for any side in a negotiation involving aspects of the music and entertainment industry
  • Evaluate opportunities to resolve conflicts outside of course, including summary judgment, mediation, and arbitration
  • Analyze legal issues that pertain to streaming audio and video, in addition to new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality
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Syllabus

Lesson 1: The US Court System and Law

  • The Components of the Law
  • The Structure of Federal Courts
  • Lawyers, Judges, and Juries
  • Resolution Outside of a Court
  • Assignment 1: Choosing a Law Firm and Lawyer

Lesson 2: Intellectual Property and Copyright

  • Constitutional Copyright Rights and Limitations
  • Fair Use
  • Returning Works to the Public Domain
  • The “Blurred Lines” Case
  • Assignment 2: Argue Pharrell Williams et al vs. Bridgeport Music Inc. et al

Lesson 3: Sampling, Replay/Interpolation, Mashups

  • Composition and Sound Recording Copyrights
  • Replay/Interpolation and Sampling
  • Mashups
  • The US Circuit Court and the Future of Sampling
  • Assignment 3: Argue Bridgeport and VMG Salsoul Cases

Lesson 4: Songwriting and Publishing

  • Publisher Roles
  • Publisher Rights
  • Administration
  • 17 USC § 203 - Reversion
  • Assignment 4: Contract Analysis

Lesson 5: Band Agreements

  • Band Members’ Responsibilities and Rights
  • Band Names
  • What Happens When a Band Member Leaves
  • Departed Band Members’ Use of the Band’s Name
  • Pseudonyms
  • Assignment 5: Analyze a Band Agreement

Lesson 6: Trademarks

  • Trademark Basics
  • Infringement and Disputes
  • Disparaging and Offensive Marks
  • Right of Publicity (ROP)
  • Assignment 6: Trademarks and Right of Publicity

Lesson 7: Managers, Agents, and Attorneys

  • Management: Wins and Fails
  • Personal Managers
  • Business Managers and Agents
  • Attorneys
  • Assignment 7: Resolve Disputes

Lesson 8: Live Music and Touring

  • Types of Venues
  • Legal Aspects of Live Music
  • Concert Riders
  • Concert Riders Part 2
  • Assignment 8: Concert Riders

Lesson 9: Record Contracts

  • In the Recording Studio
  • 360° Contracts
  • Revenue Sharing
  • Single-Song and New Record Contracts
  • Assignment 9: Create a Record Contract


Lesson 10: Downloads and Streaming

  • Digital Music Delivery
  • Digital Licenses and Digital Sales
  • Audio and Video Streaming
  • Live Video Streaming 
  • Assignment 10: Create a Contract for Fans Live Streaming Live Events


Lesson 11: Music Placement

  • Credits and Compensation
  • Underscore and Music Libraries
  • Music in Television
  • Music in Film
  • Assignment 11: Licensing for The Sopranos, Legal Issues in VR and AR

Lesson 12: Social Media, Augmented and Virtual Reality

  • Social Media
  • The First Amendment, Parody, Satire, and Censorship
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality
  • New and Future Legal Issues

Requirements




Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Required Textbook(s)

  • None required

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact support@online.berklee.edu for any questions.


General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software (available in the course when joining your first chat)
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal Microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection

Instructors

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Music Business Law can be applied towards these associated programs:

Associated Degree Major

Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

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