Anyway, you’ve probably seen it in one form or another.
Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Aaron Moss (partner at Greenberg Glusker) provides a thorough analysis of the copyright issues surrounding the song itself and a brewing legal dispute between Black’s family and Ark Music Factory. Over the course of the article, Moss cites the following rights/licenses implicated by Black’s viral video and its subsequent marketing:
- copyright in the sound recording
- copyright in the composition
- mechanical license
- digital phonograph delivery license
- synchronization license
- master use license
- public performance license (in the composition)
- digital public performance license (in the sound recording)
Confused yet? You’re probably supposed to be. As Moss puts it in the section explaining that the copyright in the sound recording and the copyright in the composition are two completely separate rights:
This rather unintuitive concept, by itself, has been enough to pay countless lawyers’ salaries over the years.
Or as Moss notes as an aside when explaining the concept of digital performance licenses:
As a result of the way copyright law has developed — which is to say, ad hoc, aimlessly, in fits and starts, and with plenty of lobbyist influence…
I highly recommend reading Moss’ entire piece. It’s a good reminder of just how convoluted contemporary copyright law is and just how many actors (artists, session musicians, engineers, label personnel, etc.) may have to agree in order to exploit an existing song in a new way.