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Resolving disputes basics

3 min read

What is a dispute?

A dispute is when two or more parties disagree on a legal or commercial issue.

What is a dispute?

In the music industry, disputes are typically disagreements about ownership of, income from, or the use of or .

Disputes may arise between two parties when they disagree on the terms of their existing business deal or between parties who have no contractual relationship but one infringes on the of the other.

To learn more about rights and who has them, visit our topics, Songwriting, Recording, and Music Creators' Rights.

Who can be involved in a dispute?

Only holders or their representatives can assert rights in their musical works, and sound recordings. For musical works, rights holders will commonly be and . For sound recordings, this can be and .

Music publishers, record labels, , , or attorneys can raise disputes on behalf of the rights holders they represent.

Disputes can be raised against anybody who infringes and or otherwise acts illegally or contrary to a business deal referred to as an agreement, contract, or license.

What are some of the most common disputes ?

Disputes arise for many reasons, but there are some scenarios that are common in the music industry.

  • Ownership – such as who owns the musical work or sound recording, who contributed to it, and who has rights in musical works, performances, and sound recordings. For example, if two songwriters disagree about who wrote a musical work, or if a band breaks up and has not agreed who owns the sound recordings they created together.

  • – such as who gets paid what share of the income generated by a musical work or sound recording.

  • Infringement – such as someone using your musical work or sound recording without your permission or a proper . For example, if someone uses part of a you created and own in another song without your permission, or if one of your songs is or streamed without a license.

How are disputes resolved?

Disputes can be complex and expensive to resolve, but there are some things you can do to prevent them from arising or to minimize their complexity.

The best thing you can do to avoid disputes is to agree with others involved in creating your musical works and sound recordings, who owns what share, and to your musical works and sound recordings with a CMO. When a dispute arises, it is usually best to try and settle it without entering into lengthy and costly legal proceedings.

Disputes can be resolved through the following mechanisms and proceedings:

Image credit: Eric Ivar Persson, Parapix