What are the rules for using music written by non-U.S. songwriters?

Related Ads

Need Professional Help? Talk to a Lawyer

Enter Your Zip Code to Connect with a Lawyer Serving Your Area

searchbox small


My father and a group of people are producing a music CD. These songs are well known in South America. Can we sell this CD here in the United States? What are the laws governing this matter?


If the songs are protected under copyright, then it would violate the law to reproduce the songs on a recording unless you first get permission from the song's owner, usually a music publisher.

Songs written by songwriters outside the U.S. are protected under U.S. copyright laws because of international treaties that grant protection to foreign authors. You can research the ownership of songs at www.harryfox.com, www.ascap.com, or www.bmi.com.

In the U.S., there is a system known as a compulsory mechanical license that permits you to reproduce the songs by paying an established fee -- approximately $.08 per song per recording.

For more information on U.S. copyright laws, go to the copyright office site at www.copyright.gov and download Circular 50.

Get Informed

Empower yourself with our plain-English information

Do It Yourself

Handle routine tasks with our products

Find a Lawyer

Connect with a local lawyer who meets your needs

The fastest, easiest way to find, choose, and connect to intellectual property lawyers

Related Ads