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Thanks, Jim. That's interesting. I just had a look at the PA form and there is no mention of percentages at all. I guess that's why agreement is so important if you are not intending to share equally in the song as a whole.

Also worth mentioning that this is very US specific. In the UK, I believe, there is no such government process for the registering of copyrights as there is in the US. I.e. You write it, you own it, and that's that. You don't need to register with the government for copyright in order to benefit from your rights as the copyright owner under the rule of law. Who knows how it is in other countries too?! But I know there is a lot of consistency due to various treaties. Kinda makes it hard to be definitive on a global level I suppose, like when collaborating on a website where lots of different nations are involved :)

Found another interesting article by a law firm that finally touches on the issue of music and lyric splits specifically. Though it reads to me that the 50/50 division is more of a norm than a unnegotiable ruling:

"One common benchmark in dividing ownership is that the lyrics are worth 50% and the music 50%. For example, if two people write the music and one person writes the lyrics, they may agree to divide the ownership 25% each for the two music writers, with the lyricist retaining the remaining 50%. However, if there is no such agreement, each would own 33.3% of the song."
#1501 Posted Tue 24 May, 2016 1:45 am
There is no specific mention of percentages on the PA form. You can write any % you want for each author in the "Nature of Authorship" field for each author.

No doubt these issues are a real challenge on international collaboration. The Berne Convention is the main treaty that applies in this case, I think.
#1504 Posted Wed 25 May, 2016 4:07 pm
Hey guys. All good questions. I will try to share info on the way the site is setup. It is not restrictive at all, but hopefully ensures that co-writers are in agreement about who owns what... Better to have these discussions before signing off rather than later on when you make some cash out of the song and argue about shares :) As we should all be aware by now, there are two separate copyrights that apply - composition and sound recording. I'll focus on composition here as it is the topic I believe. When you close the project, you have to set copyright shares for the songwriters (i.e. author, composer, whatever). Those shares must equal 100%. That is representative of the full 100% of the songwriting copyright. Let's say it is an instrumental song, therefore, you would select "Musical Works" and assign 100%. If there were two composers, that's 50% each. If it were spoken-word or a poem with no music, again, it's 100%, or 33% if there were three authors. In the case where there is both music and lyrics, it is a little more complicated. Here, the lyrics are worth 50% and the music is worth 50%. Therefore totalling 100% of the composition copyright. I.e., you cannot have 75% of the song being music (the tune), and 25% of the song being lyrics (the words). At least, that is the way we understand it. If this is fundamentally wrong then anyone with some authoritative input on this is welcome to point us to any supporting references so that we can resolve it and make adjustments - which we are perfectly happy to do. But for the time being, that is how the division of the composition copyright works. Another related point here might be worth mentioning, this 'share' of copyright is not the same thing as the literal question of "who did what". It is basically an assignment of ownership. Someone who didn't write the lyrics can have a copyright ownership of the lyrics. So to the question at hand. Yes, Ryan, since you wrote all of the lyrics, and the topline melody, if you wanted to separate these two distinctively based on input, you could probably assign yourself 50% for the lyrics, and 25% for the music. And the remaining 25% going to Michiel. Doesn't sound fair? I think this is often the case due to confusion with the sound recording part of this equation. The composition is really only the underlying chord structure, arrangement, melody, and the lyrics. Right? Where us musicians (performers.. including your vocal performance) often comes in is on the recording of the song - i.e. sound recording. Hence, all the guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, vocals, etc., create a big production sound, and it sounds like we did a lot.. but what we are actually doing is performing the writen song (simply the chords and lyrics), it doesn't change the fact that the song goes C F G C x 8 or whatever. But back to splitting this stuff up. The norm, as you've pointed out, is, I believe, 50/50. Reason is simply fairness and the fact that it avoids arguments over how much each did exactly what of. In the end, you wrote the song together. And in fact, in you guys case, you actually agreed to this when you selected the EQUAL SHARES collaboration agreement! This agreement is the one that you just mentioned, about agreeing to how things will be split when you started the song together - so no need to write another one :) How to assign it 50/50, you simply assigned 25% each to the music, and 25% each to the lyrics. That's kinda the point of joint ownership. It's not to say that you didn't write the lyrics (that's a credit) but the point is that you both will share equally in the actual song's copyright. And that includes the lyrics. The only reason you might not want to do that is if you intended to retain full ownership of the lyrics, meaning that you could at any time use them with someone else in another song and Michiel would have no claim to royalties if that song hit the big time since he has no copyright or say in that. If that's not the intent, then by sharing each of these components equally, you are agreeing to jointly own the song as a whole. Ok. All sounds a little confusing. We did actually have the 'song' option previously when selecting songwriting copyright where you didn't need to divvy up between music and lyrics. But we saw that it was being used wrongly and percentages were not adding up - I believe because again people weren't understanding the implied inclusion of lyrics in the equation. So we ended up changing it because at the end of the day, when you go to register your song with a PRO, they generally do ask about both music and lyrics, so for those who hadn't already figured it out and really thought about this with their co-writers, songwriters might actually be registering different info on their PRO song registrations. FYI, me and Dani do it exactly like this. We both agreed a long time ago that we will share everything equally in the song as a whole. So even though I generally don't write the lyrics, I am a copyright owner in the song and she cannot reuse, change or sell them without paying me :) .. Equally, when we license an instrumental version of our song, where she did not sing and there are no lyrics.. she gets paid still. 50/50. It's just fairer, and easier to understand and manage. Anyway, yes, I have a tendancy to say a lot on this topic. Somehow I find it a fascinating subject! But this is a really important issue and I hope there is more input on this. We want the site to work in a way that is flexible, but also has to be implemented in a way that prevents wrong assigment of shares, leading to confusion and dissagreement down the line. So anyone that has some input on this we're happy to hear your thoughts. Thanks for raising the point, Ryan!

Originally posted by MonkeyC on Sat 21 May, 2016

Here is how I have always understood "Joint Authorship" to work....after MANY MANY hours of research. As a joint have an "UNDIVIDED" interest in the song itself...i.e...the sound recording copyright...AND the composition copyright. This means that ALL joint authors own 100% of the SOUND RECORDING copyright...AND the COMPOSITION copyright...EACH. That is why it is referred to as "UNDIVIDED".

This 100% ownership in the copyright as a joint author has NOTHING to do with how much a particular participant will receive as their part of any royalty payments and can, has and does cause confusion among some people that don't understand this...the SPLIT SHEETS take care of that part.

The 100% ownership in the copyright as a joint author DOES however give ANY joint author the legal ability to promote/exploit the sound recording/master recording/finished & completed product...AND/OR composition to anyone they so desire without the express permission of the other joint authors to do so...and may even enter into a contract/licensing agreement on behalf of the other joint long as the contract is "NON - EXCLUSIVE"...and they take the steps required to make sure all other joint authors are acknowledged/credited so that they may receive their AGREED UPON percentage of ANY royalty payments generated from said deal or contract...this where the Split Sheets come in.

Unless there is a written agreement concerning how the income should be split , all profits from the song must be shared equally between the authors. On Pro Collabs you are given the option of deciding on this very formula OR you may choose the "Fair Shares" agreement which splits shares based on an agreed upon percentage for each contribution at the closing of the project.

It is only when an "EXCLUSIVE" contract/licensing agreement is being negotiated that permission MUST be obtained from ALL other "Joint Authors" before this kind of contract/licensing agreement can become legal and binding.

It is important to note that even if another joint author secures a "non - exclusive" contract/licensing agreement...of whatever kind...for the use of the recording...AND correctly acknowledges/credits all other joint authors for their contribution to the a joint author are responsible for making sure that you are REGISTERED with your preferred royalty collection/performing rights organization (PRO) in order to actually be paid your percentage of the revenue generated. If you are NOT registered then your share will still be collected....but you will never receive it so it's very important as I mentioned to take care of these things.

Hope I have helped ANYONE/SOMEONE to understand this subject better. It really can be confusing for some : )
#1654 Posted Sat 09 Jul, 2016 12:13 pm
OK, I'm not sure if this is relatable, but I have figured out why I lean toward making my projects work for hire, & why collabs make me nervous.
Sometimes I am looking for places to submit my music & they tell me I must own rights to the sound recordings. I guess I am afraid that instrumentalists or mixers will own the sound recordings, & that will exclude me from these submissions. Is there anyone out there who understands or can allay my fears? Cause I really can't afford to do only work for hires, but .......
#2252 Posted Mon 24 Apr, 2017 1:55 pm
Hi Shannon. Until someone who knows more steps up, here's my understanding and also how things typically go down on ProCollabs (other sites may approach things differently).

Yes, typically, if you only write the lyrics in a joint work collaboration project, then you would likely receive copyright only in the song's composition, and not the master sound recording. Therefore, you would not own the master and wouldn't be able to submit to those opportunities.

But, it is worth mentioning that this is not always the case, as copyright splits are more about agreement than who did exactly what. So if you had agreed/negotiated with collaborators that you would have a share in the sound recording regardless that you did not perform on the recording, then you would, in that case, own a percentage of the master.

On ProCollabs, for a joint work project, you can select the project 'collaboration agreement' when you start the project. If you used the 'equal shares' agreement, for the above case, for example, you wouldn't be entitled to then take a share in the master unless you performed or where involved in the production. The same way that a vocalist who only sang your lyrics/melody would not be entitled to a share in the songwriting copyright (they only performed the song, they didn't write it).

On the other hand, if you used the 'songwriter' agreement, and then you made a statement perhaps in the project brief about what the intended splits would be, and that you would take, for example, 10% in the master, then so be it - assuming people then signed up to the project under those terms.

The point is, if you can get everyone agree to give you 99% ownership of the master, then 99% you shall own. It's all about agreement at the end of the day. And agreement on any terms that are not really explained by the project collaboration agreement should be addressed up-front, and of course, be reasonable and fair - otherwise people won't think that the collaboration will be worthwile for them to get involed (i.e. what are they going to get out of it).

Hence why, in your case, it will often make better sense to prefer work for hire projects. In work for hire projects, the performers and audio engineers are giving up their ownership/right in exchange for compensation. So this is basically the scenario where you are writing a song and then hiring musicians etc to record it. You then own both the songwriting and the master sound recording and can therefore do what you like with it. You will have full control over the rights and useage of your music - as well as the final say when it comes to creative choices in the production too.

If you are looking for tv, commercial opportunities, etc. then bear in mind that once you are sharing ownership with others, it can be a tangle of coordination, chasing down, and accounting to your collaborators, should you strike a deal - which can be a show stopper, I hear, if you haven't got all of your ducks lined up in advance as others may have to give permissions.

Of course, a work for hire project will cost money! Which is the downside for you. The downside for the musicians is that if you score a $10,000 license, they get none of it! Pros and cons. Risks and opportunities :)
#2253 Posted Wed 26 Apr, 2017 11:49 am
So, if I saw an opportunity that wanted sound recording ownership in order to submit, would it be a good idea to try to get the owners to submit for me? I've just been in a battle over one of my songs for a while, & it's probably making me overly cautious.
#2255 Posted Wed 26 Apr, 2017 3:37 pm
So, if I saw an opportunity that wanted sound recording ownership in order to submit, would it be a good idea to try to get the owners to submit for me? I've just been in a battle over one of my songs for a while, & it's probably making me overly cautious.

Originally posted by ShannonB on Wed 26 Apr, 2017

Why not. But you are probably best off agreeing up front as a group that you intend to pursue sync licensing ops just to make sure everyone is on the same page; otherwise, your master owner might just go and post the track on SoundCloud with a Creative Commons license or something.
#2256 Posted Wed 26 Apr, 2017 3:57 pm
That sounds like a good thought process to me, if you are clear up front what your ambition is then everyone who joins in should be in agreement and aligned with your intentions.
#2257 Posted Wed 26 Apr, 2017 4:02 pm
Is this done in the Collaboration Agreement section or the project briefing section? I just don't see it done that often. Maybe I don't know where to look for these kind of specifics. Should it be done even before you begin accepting auditions? Just need to know the best place on the project for making my intentions known. And if they did post to soundcloud, I could always ask them to take it down if something BIG came up, right?
#2259 Posted Wed 26 Apr, 2017 4:32 pm
I'd put it into the Project Description, but you could also put it into the Brief :)
#2263 Posted Wed 26 Apr, 2017 5:27 pm
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