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What is the difference between US Copyright and French Copyright?
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June 23, 2021

What is the difference between US Copyright and French Copyright?

As I’m sure you already know, Reprtoir has been working to help record labels and music publishers who manage music copyrights, royalties and music catalogs through our software suite. By doing so, and by navigating the music industry ourselves, we learnt how important it is to understand copyright and its legislation. Which can vary depending on the country we’re talking about!

Reprtoir is based in France. But our customers are scattered across the globe, and music easily travels through frontiers. So this means that french copyright laws are not the only ones we are dealing with.

Why differentiate French copyright law from US copyright?

It’s no secret that many regimes coexist when it comes to music rights and copyrights, depending on countries. We, as music professionals, have to learn to deal with several specificities. Since we’re talking about France and the US, there is a major difference to point at.

The thing is: in the music industry, it is often said that European conception of copyright (and especially in France) is a bit more complicated. And it is true. In France, copyright is considered from an intellectual property point of view, whereas in the US, we’re talking about the protection of the musical material. Let’s develop this.

French copyright vs US copyright: where do differences come from

To understand the profound difference between the two conceptions of copyright, intellectual property is key. When we’re saying “copyright”, we literally mean “the right to copy”; that is to say, the right to exploit an artwork. This implies that any creator has to deposit his/her work with an institution before it can be taken into account.

When it comes to the French copyright law, it is a bit different. In French, it is even called differently: “droit d’auteur” (literally translated: “author’s right”). Simply put: there’s a protection in place from the moment the creation was made. This translates into the “moral right”, the creation is intellectually linked to its creator and cannot be sold. In that way, music copyright is managed differently by music professionals.

Indeed, now that we know this, what does it mean for record labels and music publishers working on music rights? What happens when you need to distribute or broadcast French copyrighted content abroad? Well technically, you don’t need to deposit your work in other countries to get the protection (although, we would advise you do it anyway, just in case).

Since copyright is based on anteriority and ownership declared over a material containing the creation, it’s always good to have a dated proof of creation. If a situation occurs with you having to defend ownership / opposing a use of your creation, you will have to show proof of your work. And it can impact more than the very utilization of your work: it also influences revenues.

If your creation is used in any way, you are entitled to revenue (if you have ownership over the content, which can sometimes not necessarily be the case, we have written several articles on music rights management here). And what happens if you’re not in capacity of proving your approval / ownership ? You’re missing out on revenues, simple as that.

How to make the best out of it?

So what happens now? You get organized! Record labels and music publishers manage music catalogs on a daily basis and if clearing up music rights differences depending on countries is important, it is as primordial to follow-up closely on them.

We have developed several features with Reprtoir’s software suite to help music professionals deal with copyrights, contracts, royalties, catalogs etc.

  • Rights Manager is our feature allowing all users to save and backup all contracts in a secured and accessible workspace for their teams.
  • Works Manager is a CMS dedicated to musical works management, able to be linked to the uploaded catalogs on Reprtoir’s environment
  • Royalties Manager is our royalty accounting software, tying up every expense and revenues, linked to contracts, rights holders, artists, contracts and all.

We have more features we would be happy to show you, to help you grow your business and make sure you don’t make any mistakes. We offer free demos of our software suite, at any convenient time for you!

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