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Copyrighting Music Which Includes Brand Name Sound Effects/instruments/drum Machines

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Hello, I am a musician who would like to record an album one day. I would also like to copyright my work. I have a question about copyrighting.


Is it legal to write music using Brand Name Sound Effects and Instruments and then copyright that?


For example: if I am using a Line 6 Spider II Amp and a Fender Telecaster Guitar and I record an original piece of music using that equipment am I allowed to copyright that?


Do I need some sort of licensing agreement with Line 6 or Fender to be able to copyright the music in my name if I use their brand name sound effects, amps, and instruments? (this question is not limited to Line 6 and Fender only)


Also, what about using a drum machine in my songs and then copyrighting that? Does a licensing agreement apply?


Thank you

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Now, if only "for completeness," let me for-the-record mention this ... that there are, in fact, two forms of copyright protection within (United States) law:  "circle-C" and "circle-P."

  • "Circle-C" (which is what the OP is dealing with here ...) seeks to protect "the work itself," regardless of any specific "expression" of it.  This is, for example, the legal principle that enabled authors to receive royalties from "mix-downs" and "rappers" who (admittedly...) incorporated samples of other works into their own.  This is also what enables any creative manifestation "of Hey, Jude" to funnel royalties to The Beatles.
  • Meanwhile . . . "Circle-P" exists to protect phonorecords.  For instance, your particular recording of "Beethoven's Fifth."  (Versus everyone-else's equally one-of-a-kind recording of exactly the same thing.)

It all boils down to what is truly, protectably, "unique" about what you want to register.  If "what you want to register" is "a thing that <<you claim ...>> is Unique To You," then it absolutely does not matter what patches you happened to use to prepare the example that you submitted to the Copyright Office, because "'the specific implementation' is merely a representative example," because <<you claim ...>> the work itself is "what is unique, therefore protectable."


Meanwhile, if "what you want to register" is ... "a recording of what the XYZ Symphony Orchestra performed on ZZZ Date of 'Beethoven's Fifth Symphony'" ... the legal philosophy of "Circle-Palso has you covered.  If it turns out that some dweeb in the audience who happened to have a <<phone | tape-recorder>> now wants to make megabucks "at your expense," you have the legal means to stop him.

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Hi Bob,

Good answers from the guys but I thought I would chime in to be as clear as possible.

Music created by anything can be copyrighted, but not under the auspices of the gear that was used to make it.

Effects and gear can be patented, the tech that is used to make them. You can copyright a specific recording, but it is the recording that is protected by copyright. The effects and gear that made the recording are immaterial in copyright terms.

The circle-c copyright covers the original elements of composition only. This is generally the melody and lyrics only. Chord progressions are just far too common to be copyrighted under normal circumstances. Even song titles are not able to be copyrighted. Circle-c is designed to protect the song and how it is used.

Circle-p pertains to the recording. It protects the use of that recording. As such it protects "samples" of the recording as they are just little bits of the recording. This is also known as mechanical protection. Circle-p is designed to protect the recording and the uses of the recording.

Effects are no more relevant to copyright than the recording studio, or the street the studio is on or the hotel the band stayed in. All that stuff is interesting, just not copyrightable.

The equivalent protection for effects and amps etc is, as mentioned, patents. Patents cover the actual circuits and algorithms that make up the item of gear, and the patents protect how and where the technology is used

TM (trademark) protects the use of the name, as does registered circle-r protects business names.

I hope this helps.

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Good points, John.  My earlier comment about "mix-downs and rappers" is not technically correct, as to which circled-letter probably would apply in any given case.  However, INAL = I'm Not A Lawyerâ„¢ who would have to be concerned about such things.   :)


You would be protected, one way or the other, whether a literal sound-clip was borrowed from your previously recorded work, or if a clearly recognizable theme has been lifted from it.  (Yes, you might have to convince a judge that your particular interpretation is fair.)


Cutaia, if you happen to be someone who reads the legalese associated with loops and sound libraries (i.e. "IAALâ„¢ !!" ... "Oh my, so sorry to hear that.")  ;) you will read, somewhere buried in all that gibbertydash, a clause to the effect that what you just said is exactly true.  You would be prohibited from selling a literal copy of the library, but you are expressly licensed to use sounds from that library in your own work or performances, and yes, they actually say that.


Plus ... if you're serious about doing this kind of stuff "for a living," you do need to get to know an attorney who can definitively answer your questions about these things and who, most importantly of all, can cover your butt.  Especially if you can find one who plays a mean guitar . . . as, oddly enough, so many of them do.

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