Protecting Your Writers Rights


All of us who make music our business eventually become aware of certain basic functions, requirements, and assumptions in our business lives. We learn how to copyright our material in order to protect it from appropriation by others. We learn to register our works with our performing rights organization so that, whenever a work of ours is performed, we will receive the proper credit for that performance, as well as the royalty payment to which we are entitled. That is how we can begin to call ourselves professionals. We take care of business.

Early in our careers, we are astonished by the benefits resulting from performances of our works. Later, we may take them for granted. But our families are aware of how we protect them. They are the recipients of income from our performances. They trust us not to sell, assign, or transfer our performance rights to any other individual or group, under any circumstances, at any time. Ever. Those are the writer’s rights; they are sacrosanct, inviolate, off-limits, non-transferable.

Our performing rights organization is our committed partner in protecting our writer’s rights. In describing their respective payment systems, ASCAP and BMI and SESAC include language designed to protect their members. ASCAP’s statement reads, in part: “even in work-for-hire situations, the writer and not the employer will be paid the writer’s share of ASCAP performing royalties.” BMI’s statement reads, in part: “in no case will the writer’s share of royalties be paid to the employer.” SESAC’s statement reads, in part: “SESAC does not condone coercion of composers to give up any portion of his or her writer’s share of performance income to any third party.

–SCL Board of Directors