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These definitions are provided by the AIMP to better understand the many terms and acronyms encountered in music publishing. Though we do not assume liability for the use of these definitions we believe they should be helpful.


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Administration Deal:
An administration deal is a legal agreement between the copyright owner and an entity to administrate an individual song(s), or an entire catalogue for a negotiated period of time. The administrator can be a publisher, or a qualified professional (lawyer, accountant). Functions of administration include: filing necessary documentation, copyright registrations, collecting royalties, and negotiating third party licenses (e.g. synchronization licenses). Fees for administration are generally computed as a percentage of income ranging from 10% -20%. An attorney should advise you before signing an administration deal.

When used in publishing an Advance refers to a payment made to the copyright owner or writer before royalties have been earned. Advances can be made by publishers or PROs (Performing Rights Societies) and are recouped from future royalties. Advances are usually non-refundable.

An Arranger is a person who takes a composition and decides what instrument will play what and where. This can be for a recording date or for a live performance. Aside from artistic reasons an arranger would arrange the music for the type and/or size of the band or orchestra that will be performing and/or recording it.

Assignment of Copyright:
The unconditional transfer of all rights contained in a copyright from the owner to another person or entity. This assignment generally concerns only the publisher’s side of the copyright though it is possible to assign the writer’s rights as well. To be legal this must be in writing and should be reviewed by an attorney.

Audio Home Recording Act:
A portion of the Copyright act that enabled the release of recordable digital formats such as CDs and DATs without fear of contributory infringement lawsuits as well as establishing that royalties would be paid to the owner of the Master and Publishing. The RIAA and music publishers concerned that consumers' ability to make perfect digital copies of music would destroy the market for audio recordings, had threatened to sue companies and had lobbied Congress to pass legislation imposing mandatory copy protection technology and royalties on devices and media. The Act also includes blanket protection from infringement actions for private, non-commercial analog audio copying, and for digital audio copies made with digital audio recording devices.

Audio/Visual Work (AV):
A term describing a film, television show or any other visual production which includes an audio component. The use of music with a visual production requires a synchronization license.

Audit Clause:
This is a term used in many types of agreements. In publishing contracts, it gives the songwriter access to the publisher’s or record company’s books and records (usually once a year), so that the copyright owner can determine the accuracy of the publisher’s accounting practices.

Automatic Renewal:
Works originally copyrighted between 1964 and 1977 are granted an automatic renewal term (See Extended Renewal Term) by the Copyright Act, without the necessity of the writer having to file a renewal registration form in order to preserve copyright protection, as was the case for earlier copyrights. However, filing a Form RE (along with payment of the appropriate fee) for automatically renewed works is recommended in order to obtain certain statutory benefits.


Background Score:
A custom composition by a composer created for a TV show or film. A score could also be a group of songs used as a background score for an audio/visual work.

Blanket License:
A type of license allowing a music user, typically a TV network, or radio station, to play or perform all compositions covered under the license without a limit on use for one (usually annual) payment. PROs and Production Libraries often use blanket licenses with television, Film, and radio stations.

The unauthorized recording and selling of a song.


Catalog (also spelled Catalogue):
The term catalogue is usually used to reference a collection of songs owned by a publisher or songwriter.

Click Track:
A digital pulse or signal used to help musicians stay in time with an exact beat/tempo while they record.

Closing Theme:
A cue sheet and licensing term to indicate the music that is used with the end titles. It is a featured use.

Canadian Music Publishers Association

A non-profit agency founded in 1975, the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd. (CMRRA) represents a large number of domestic and foreign music publishers doing business in Canada. It negotiates collective agreements (e.g. with CRIA for mechanical rights in Canada) and individual agreements (reproduction or synchronization licenses) with music users. CMRRA is a member of the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC).?Note: Since CMRRA acts as a non-exclusive agent for its affiliated publishers, they can also negotiate and sign agreements directly with certain users.

Co-Publishing Agreement:
A legal agreement between a songwriter(s) and another publisher(s) wherein the publishing rights are co-owned. The control of the song is determined by which publishing company(s) controls the administration. In the case of a co-published /co-administrated song, a licensee would need to contact each of the respective publishers to obtain a license.

Compulsory Mechanical License:
An exception to the copyright holder's exclusive rights of reproduction and distribution that allows anyone to record and distribute any commercially-released, non-dramatic song as long as the mechanical license rates established by copyright law are paid to the copyright owner of the song.

Compulsory Mechanical License:
A compulsory mechanical license is a license for a musical work that has legally been previously recorded and can be obtained without having to obtain the copyright holder's permission (hence "compulsory") but still requires the payment of a licensing fee. This fee is set by the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel and as of Oct. 2008 the statutory mechanical royalty rate is 9.1¢ per song for each track on a CD or download, or 1.75¢ each minute of playing time, whichever is greater.

Control (Administrative Control):
Control is all important in publishing. The Administrating Publisher has the sole right to authorize the grant of licenses, for mechanical, print and synch rights on behalf of itself and the writer and receives the writer’s share of income for all income streams except the writer’s share of performance income which is collected by the Performing Rights Societies (BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc.) and paid directly to the writer.

Controlled Composition:
Some artist contracts contain a controlled composition clause that applies to musical works written and “controlled” by the artist. The record company considers these songs included on a CD a controlled composition and per the clause pays the publisher of the artist’s work a reduced rate which is normally 75% of the Statutory Rate. The record company can also stipulate a maximum number of musical compositions (e.g. 12) on which it will pay mechanical royalties even if the CD contains more than that number of tracks.

The exclusive right is set forth in the 1976 Copyright Act Section 106. A copyright protects the author of a work for a stated period. The right usually lasts until 70 years after the death of the surviving author of the work, to make, dispose of, and otherwise control copies of literary, musical, dramatic, pictorial and other copyrightable works.

Copyright Deposit Registration:
Songs must be registered with the copyright office. To register a musical work under the 1976 Copyright Act: 1. Send a request for an application to the Copyright Office, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue, S E., Washington, D.C. 20559-6000 or download the application from the Copyright Office website at http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/forms/. 2. To order an application by telephone, call (202) 707-9100 . 2. When an application is completed, send it back to the Copyright Office with: a) one copy of manuscript, lead sheet or tape if unpublished or b) two copies of manuscript (sheet music) or tape if published and c) the appropriate registration fee, by money order, bank draft or check, made payable to Register of Copyrights. (definition courtesy of BMI)

Corporate and/or Industrials uses of Music:
These terms describe media which uses music for Industrial or internal corporate needs. An example could include music used for a sales retreat, or national sales conference.

CRB - Copyright Royalty Board:
The U.S. system of three Copyright Royalty Judges who determine rates and terms for copyright statutory licenses and make determinations on distribution of statutory license royalties collected by the United States Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. The Copyright Tribunal Board is entrusted with setting rates for Compulsory licenses.

Cross Collateralization:
A term used in contracts allowing a party to collect royalties from a composition (or contract) and apply the income against the un-recouped advance balance of another song (or contract). For example, a record company who owned the publishing rights to an artist’s songs could use income from the artist’s publishing income against the un-recouped advance from a recording contract.

An individual musical fragment intended to be used in a motion picture or TV/radio show episode. The musical fragment may be part of a sequence of cues intended to segue without interruption between them. Cues used for underscoring can be used behind dialog, or to score visual action.

Cue Sheet:
A document containing a detailed listing of each piece of music used in a film or television production. The cue sheet lists the music by title, composer, publisher, timing and type of usage, and is usually prepared by the producer of the TV program or film. The document must be filed with the performing rights societies.


Derivative Work:
A derivative work is a new version of an existing work. Only the owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to prepare derivative works based on that copyrighted item under 17 U.S.C. § 106(2). This includes the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. Thus, one who creates an unauthorized derivative work violates the derivative work right.

Digital Download:
An encoded file of music (e.g. MP3, ACC, MP4) obtained via the Internet from digital music stores, peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, and other medium. The download may or may not have copyright protection (DRM).

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA):
The DMCA passed in 1998 is a bill designed to bring copyright law up to date with digital media. Among other things, it outlaws the manufacture of, or "trafficking" in, technologies capable of circumventing "technical protection measures" used to restrict access to copyrighted works and creates limits of the liability for copyright infringement of Internet service providers (ISPs) under certain conditions, as well as addresses other matters.

Direct License:
A license obtained directly from the copyright owner or publisher where the Performing Rights are paid directly to the copyright owner by the Licensee. With a Direct License, no royalties are collected by, or paid to, the Performing Rights Organizations (BMI, ASCAP, SECAC, etc.).

Digital Phonorecord Delivery. Delivery of a phonorecord by digital transmission of a sound recording which results in a specifically identifiable reproduction by or for any transmission recipient of a phonorecord of that sound recording. A download from iTunes would be considered a DPD.

Digital Rights Management. A term referring to methods used to control or restrict the use of digital media content on electronic devices, such as CDs, DVDs etc. It is also referred to as copy protection.


Ephemeral Use:
This much misunderstood term describes a use of music which can be used in media without a license. It can occur in live TV when the program will probably not air in future broadcasts. An example could be a marching band that plays a Stevie Wonder song during half time at a football stadium that is shown on Network Television. It allows music to be used one time in that context without a payment to the publisher or master rights holder. Ephemeral Uses are still logged as if they were licensed and filed with the respective PROs but there is no payment generated.

Exclusive Songwriter Agreement:
This agreement is a legal contract in which a songwriter assigns to a publisher a controlling interest to his or her songs written during the term of the contract for a fee. Issues such as the term of the agreement, other songs to be included (back-catalogue), reversion rights, the amount of the advance, and what percentage of royalty income the songwriter will receive are all negotiable points.

Exploitation in publishing means working to get your musical composition used. Getting an artist to record your song or placing it in a television show is considering exploitation.

Extended Renewal Term:
The term of copyright for works registered under the 1909 Copyright Act was extended, under the 1976 Copyright Act and subsequent amendments, so that copyrights, if renewed, will be protected for 95 years—an additional 39 years from the time of the original copyright. Under the prior copyright law of 1909, the term of copyright was two 28-year terms, or a total of 56 years.


Fair Use:
Fair Use is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from or payment to the rights holders. Even if a work is found to be an unauthorized derivative, an alleged infringer can escape liability via the defense of fair use. For example, in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., the Supreme Court found that although a parody of the song "Oh, Pretty Woman" by 2 Live Crew was an unauthorized derivative work, fair use was still available as a complete defense.

Favored Nations Clause / Most Favored Nations Clause:
In publishing, a MFN clause provides that an offer given to one party in an agreement is at least equal to the best offer negotiated with the other parties. An MFN clause might be used in negotiations for Royalty rates (other than Statutory) for a Greatest Hits CD. The clause would insure that all publishers receive the same Royalty Rate equal to the highest rate negotiated. As an example, assume that Licensor B initially agreed to grant a reduced rate but under MFN. During negotiations, Licensor A was granted a full mechanical. Under this situation Licensor B would receive a full rate because Licensor A had received a full rate because of the MFN clause.

Feature Work:
A musical work used in an audio/visual use of music that constitutes the main focus of audience attention at the time of the performance. This term, usually used in connection with TV, is used when the vocalists and/or instrumentalists are on camera or where the music is used as part of a dance routine that is the main focus of attention.


Grand Rights:
Also known as Dramatic Rights or Dramatic Performance, it is the term used in connection with Musicals, Operas, Ballets, and other dramatic performances where the use of a musical composition is used to tell a story or as part of a story or plot. The copyright owner has the exclusive right to issue licenses and collect fees for grand rights.


Harry Fox Agency:
A company that represents music publishers in the negotiation of mechanical licenses, synchronization licenses and foreign licenses, and the collection of music royalty income.

When a song is placed on hold by a recording company the publisher will not show or play the song for other artists. Thus the term “I’ve got a song on hold”.


In Perpetuity:
In Perpetuity means that the rights to a song remain with the rights holder for the full life of the copyright.

Copyright infringement occurs when a person copies someone else's copyrighted items without permission.

Interactive Streaming:
A one-way audio transmission over a data network which the user can identify and play at will a unique recording they wish to listen to. As with simple Streaming the audio data is not stored on the destination computer.

International Standard Recording Code (ISRC):
The ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is a unique international identifier for tracks on sound and music-video recordings. It consists of a 12 character alpha-numeric code, the ISRC functions as a digital "fingerprint" for each track. In addition, the ISRC remains allocated to a track regardless of changes in ownership. It is an extremely powerful tool for royalty collection, administration, and anti-piracy safeguards in the digital arena.


Lead Sheet:
A reproduction on paper of a musical composition.

The term library is usually used in connection with Production Music Companies. It denotes a collection of musical compositions that are licensed by the publisher or administrator for use as background, theme, or score music, on radio, broadcast and cable television, films, or video productions. The library is usually offered under a Blanket License.

License A license is a grant to a “user” permitting use of a copyright for any of the following: 1. Mechanical (Records, Tapes, CDs). 2. Non-dramatic performance (public performance of a song over radio/TV/club/hotel/concerts). 3. Grand Rights (dramatic performance of a musical work, musical comedy, play, opera, operetta, or ballet). 4. Synchronization (the use of a musical composition on the soundtrack of an audio/visual work for theatrical exhibition or television). 5. Print (sheet music, folios, songbooks or other printed editions. The grant is usually made for a specified period of time and for a designated territory). 6. Commercial (the use of a musical composition as part of an advertisement). (definition courtesy of BMI)

Licensing or Clearance Houses:
A potential licensor may use a Clearing House to obtain the legal rights necessary to use the composition. The Clearing House is responsible for getting all the necessary legal rights for a licensor (e.g. a TV show or film) to use the music.


Master or Master Recording:
A master recording is a completed original recording from which copies may be made.

Master Tone:
A Master Tone or True Tone is a ringtone using audio versus Midi information to reproduce the song. Since it is considered a master, there are payments to both the publisher and master rights holder.

Master Use License:
A license from the owner of the master recordings allowing for the reproduction and distribution of the master recordings. In audio/visual productions, media companies must obtain a Master Use license for the sound recording and a Publishing license for the composition.

Mechanical Copyright Protection Society and PRS are not-for-profit UK collecting societies that ensure composers, songwriters and publishers are paid royalties when their music is used, from live performance to TV and radio, CDs to DVDs, downloads, streams and everything in between. MCPS and PRS entered into an operational alliance in 1997.

Mechanical License:
A Mechanical license is the licensing of copyrighted musical compositions for use on CDs, records, tapes, and certain digital configurations. (definition courtesy of Harry Fox)

Mechanical Rights:
A mechanical right is the right to record and distribute (without visual images) a song on a phonorecord for private use. Mechanical rights or a mechanical license must be obtained in order to lawfully make and distribute records, CD's and tapes. (definition courtesy of ASCAP)

Multimedia License:
A license for multiple kinds of media such as Computer Games, CD-ROM, and Karaoke.

Music Clearance:
Music that is synchronized with moving pictures requires a license. Any production company using music in a film or TV program must contact the rights holders of that music, i.e. the publisher of the underlying copyright and the owner of the Master Recording. The act of obtaining this license is commonly termed “getting the music cleared.”

Music Supervisor:
Someone who chooses and consults with the production company to acquire the music, songs, and scoring for a film or TV show. The director of the film usually has the final creative say on which piece of music is finally chosen.


Nielsen BDS:
Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems. Collects and detects song airplay data. The data informs many Billboard charts.

Nielsen SoundScan:
An information system that tracks point-of-purchase sales of music and music videos. Its data is the source for many Billboard charts.

A notice of Copyright indicates that a musical work has been copyrighted. The notice consists of the symbol “©” or the word copyright, the year of publication and the name of the copyright owner. However, if a copyrighted work is listed without a notice it still maintains its copyright protection.

The Neighboring Rights Collective of Canada. A non-profit collective created in 1997 to administer the rights of artists and makers of sound recordings (owners of master recordings). The NRCC collects and distributes to its members payments due from broadcasters for equitable remuneration. In addition, as a CPCC member, it acts as an intermediary, transferring to its five member organizations amounts collected by CPCC under the private copying regime.


PA Copyright Form:
PA Forms are used to copyright the composition. PA stands for “Performing Arts.” Copyright registration establishes the legal owner and/or publisher of intellectual property for works such as musical compositions or the lyrics for a song. As of August 1, 2009. the fee for this registration will be $35 to $60 per registration, dependent on the way the registration is filed, i.e. electronically vs. paper. The SR Form is used to copyright the master recording of the song.

A musical parody involves changing existing recognized musical ideas or lyrics. Permission from the owner of the copyright is generally required before commercial exploitation of a parody. However, the law has ruled in some cases that the parody was a fair use as in the case in the mid-1990s when Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court by country music legend Roy Acuff's music publishing company against the lead singer of the rap music group 2 Live Crew for recording a lewd version of one of Acuff's songs without his permission, creating a legal standard for parody as protected derivative work. The most successful parodist of popular music is often considered "Weird Al" Yankovic, who is now in his fourth decade of writing song parodies.

Performing Rights:
The right to perform music in public. It is part of copyright law and demands payment to the music’s composer/lyricist and publisher when a business uses music in a public performance. Examples of public performances are broadcast and cable television, radio, concerts, nightclubs, restaurants, etc. When music is performed by a business they must obtain a license to use that music and compensate the author (composer and lyricist) and publisher. Income from these licenses are collected in the U.S. by one of three performing rights organizations: BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. (definition courtesy of Wikipedia)

Performing Rights Organizations (PROs):
Performing rights organizations issue licenses to users of publicly performed, non-dramatic music for a fee, and then pay performing rights royalties to the publishers and songwriters. There are more than 200 PRO’s throughout the world. ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC are the dominant PROs in America. The PROs utilize blanket licenses with radio stations, television stations, clubs, restaurants, stores and digital streaming services. The number of times a song is played is tracked and the pool of blanket license money is divvied up according to the number of plays and the value of plays.

Phonorecord (as set forth in U.S. Copyright Act): Material objects in which sounds, other than those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device (as set forth in the US Copyright Act)

The illegal duplication and distribution of sound recordings. This includes unauthorized uploading of a copyrighted sound recording and making it available to the public, mix tapes, CD copying and selling material without authorization.

Print Licenses:
A print license authorizes the sale of a composition in printed or digital form and is issued to a company that manufactures and distributes printed music. The manufacturer then pays a royalty to the songwriter or to his music publisher for each unit of sheet music and each folio that is sold.

Print Music:
Music used in printed editions including Sheet Music, Folios (compilations of songs with a similar theme), Arrangements for instruments (e.g. Clapton for guitar), and Concert Editions (collections of songs arranged for group performances).

Print Rights:
The owner of the copyright has the exclusive right to print sheet music, folios, band parts, and arrangements for specific instruments. When a songwriter assigns copyrights to a publisher this right is usually granted as well.

The Performing Right Society, founded in 1914, is the collecting society for UK songwriters, composers and music publishers. Its role is to act as an agent for its members in order to collect performing royalties whenever their musical works are performed in public, broadcast or transmitted.

Public Domain:
A public domain work is a creative work that is not protected by copyright and which may be freely used by everyone. Permission and/or payment are not required for use. Once a work falls into the public domain ("PD"), it can never be recaptured by the owner. All works published in the U.S. prior to 1923 are in the Public Domain. Before 1978, a copyright lasted 28 years and could be extended another 47 years for a total of 75 years. After 1978, a copyright lasts the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. (courtesy of Wikipedia)

A person or company taking responsibility for administering, exploiting and protecting songs, scores, or compositions that they own, or control, or on behalf of others. If a writer controls their own publishing the term “self-published” is often used.

Publisher Share:
The income for a composition is divided equally between a publisher and the songwriter(s). In the case of a single publisher, the publisher’s share would be 100%. In the case of multiple publishers the publisher’s share generally refers to the ownership interest of each respective publisher. If there is just one publisher, that publisher has administrative control.


Recapture of Rights:
Under the Copyright Act, and under certain conditions, a writer or one of the writer’s statutory heirs is allowed to recapture rights to a copyright previously granted to a publisher. If a writer or their heirs entered into an agreement assigning or licensing a renewal copyright before January 1, 1978, whatever rights were granted could be recaptured for the renewal term's final 39 years.

A song must be registered with the author’s affiliated PRO (ASCAP, BMI or SESAC) so that the correct percentages of royalties are paid. The song must also be registered with publishers in foreign territories who will register the song with their local mechanical and performing rights societies.

Renewal of Copyright:
A registration by the author or his heirs (or their authorized agent) in the U.S. Copyright Office that renews for a second term of 67 years a copyright originally registered prior to January 1, 1978. Works originally copyrighted prior to 1964 that were not renewed in their 28th year of copyright have fallen into the public domain. Works originally copyrighted between 1964 and 1977 are automatically renewed by statute, regardless of whether a renewal registration is made for them (see Automatic Renewal). The terms of copyright for works written on or after January 1, 1978 are generally the life of the author plus 70 years or 120 years from its creation (whichever comes first). (definition courtesy of BMI)

Restoration of Copyright:
The procedure by which the owner of a copyright in a work that originated in a foreign country that is a member of the Berne Convention or World Trade Organization, that is still protected there, and that fell into the public domain in the U.S. because, among other reasons, it failed to comply with certain formalities that had been a part of U.S. law can have U.S. copyright protection retroactively revived. Restoration is accomplished by filing a form GATT with the U.S. Copyright Office. (definition courtesy of BMI)

Reversion Clause:
A negotiated deal point contained in a Publishing contract which dictates that the rights to the song revert (go back) to the songwriter after a specified period. The terms can vary on specific songs in the catalogue; for example a publisher may gain ownership or control of a title if they were successful in placing the song in a production or obtained a cover.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Its mission is to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members' creative and financial vitality. Its members are the record companies that comprise the most vibrant national music industry in the world. RIAA members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 90% of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States.

A service for mobile phone users offered by phone companies to personalize the ringing sound the caller hears when calling. A song (located on the mobile provider’s server) replaces the ringing sound before the user picks up the call.

The sound made by a mobile phone indicating an incoming call. Songs can be used as ringtones and can be produced by Midi or can be excerpts of the original master (truetones). On Oct. 3 2008 the CRB established a royalty rate of 24 cents for content used as ringtones.

See Mechanical Royalties

Royalty Free Music:
This term describes music which can be used in audio/visual works without a synchronization license or fee. Income is still generated but only from the performance of the music (listed in the cue sheets). This is sometimes referred to as a “back-end” deal.


Sampling is the act of copying a portion of a sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or part of a new recording. Unauthorized sampling is considered a copyright infringement of the sound recording from which they were taken.

The term Score typically refers to music used or composed for an audio/visual work and used in synchronization with that work. A score is used in film and television to create the mood, foreshadows, scenes, etc. The music is not licensed and is most often done as a "work for hire" by the composer for the film/TV production company.

Society of European Stage Authors and Composers. A performing rights organization designed to represent songwriters and publishers and their right to royalties for having their music performed in public. SESAC, BMI, and ASCAP are the three Performing Rights Societies in the United States. http://www.sesac.com

A songplugger is the person that promotes songs to recording artists or for use in Film and Television. The terms of agreement between songwriter and songplugger are negotiated. A songplugger’s reward for results can be a fee, ownership rights in the copyright, or interest in the revenue from royalties.

Sound Designer:
A sound designer is a person who creates the sounds that are atmospheric and/or non-musical for a project.

Sound Recording:
A right in a work resulting from the fixation of a series of musical or other sounds (e.g. spoken). A sound recording copyright protects the way that the composition is used and performed.

Sound Recording:
A sound recording is a master or master recording.

Source Cue / Source Music:
A piece of music (or a song) being used in the background of a film or TV show. It generally refers to music the actor(s) can hear coming from a radio, jukebox or party. In today’s market this can describe music that is really used as Score Music but is licensed as source music (with a sync license) in cases where there is no budget for a Score.

Source License:
In performing rights, a license granted by the copyright owner to the person, producer or organization being licensed to record or distribute the work, (e.g., in a taped program) so that the performance of the recorded work needs no further license. (definition courtesy of BMI)

Split Publishing:
See Co-Publishing

Spotting Session:
A spotting session is a meeting with the composer and director/music supervisor to determine what type of music and where the music is placed in specific sections of a film. It is most often done when the film is at or near its final cut. There may be several spotting sessions done before the film is “locked.”

SR Form:
SR Forms are used to copyright the sound recording.

Statutory Damages:
This is a legal term to describe monetary damages a copyright owner can sue for in the case of infringement of his or her work. Statutory damages are distinguished from actual damages. The amount is at the discretion of the court.

Statutory Mechanical License Rate:
The statute places a ceiling on the royalty a copyright owner can obtain from the sale of a composition contained on a CD or a download. This fee is set by the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel and as of Oct. 2008 the statutory mechanical royalty rate is set at 9.1¢ per song for each track on a CD or download, or 1.75¢ each minute of playing time, whichever is greater. This rate pertains to any release from 2006 and will extend until 2013.

Sting (or Stinger):
A musical inflection or hit which accents an emotion. It is often used as an ending of a cue.

A one-way audio transmission over a data network. The audio data is not stored on the destination computer.

An agreement between the original publisher of a song (or catalogue) and a foreign publisher to license, exploit, and collect royalties for the song (catalogue) in the foreign publisher’s territory. Among other things, the agreement stipulates the term of the contract, the area or territory in which it applies and the percentage of royalties the sub-publisher is authorized to retain for its services.

Synchronization Licenses (sync rights):
A synchronization license authorizes the recording of an author’s musical work onto the soundtrack of an audio/visual work with visual images. Synchronization fees are negotiated and vary according to the popularity of the song and the importance of the song in the production. The fee is often equal to the fee paid for the Master Use License for the sound recording.


Temp Track (aka Temp Music):
This refers to a piece of music that is placed in a film, television show, etc. for which the rights have not been acquired. The temporary music is either licensed or replaced. Quite often publishers and library owners receive requests to replace the temp music with something that is more within budget.

Tethered Download:
A tethered download refers to music normally received from a subscription service that cannot be burned onto a CD or transferred to a portable device. The file will be stored on your computer's hard drive, but it is encoded so that it will no longer play once the subscription service is terminated.

A musical work used at the beginning and closing portions of a TV show or film or as a recurring piece of music throughout the show.

Timing Notes (aka Breakdown Notes):
Notes an editor makes detailing timing, for scenes for the composer to use to reference cues that have been spotted in a spotting session. The notes often contain other reference items such as dialogue, camera moves and sync or smpte code.


A score for a motion picture or television program (as opposed to the Main Title or End Credits Themes), usually used to mean the music that is used under the dialog.


Video Buyout:
A video buyout is a negotiated right included in a synchronization license. A video buyout entitles the buyer (Licensee) to pay the publisher (licensor) a flat fee for the use of a song verses a royalty paid per unit sold.

Visual Dance:
This term is used in cue sheets to indicate an on-camera dance. The cue is often considered a featured use and thus paid at a higher rate.

Visual Instrumental:
A cue sheet designation meaning that an instrumental is being performed on-camera as a performance and is usually considered a featured use.

Visual Vocal:
A cue sheet term indicating that a vocal is performed on-camera. This is usually considered a featured use.


Work for Hire:
As defined by the 1976 Copyright Act, a work for hire describes a composition that is prepared by an employee within the scope of his employment. The employer is considered the author and owner of the work. Even though the employee creates the copyrightable work they do not own it, and the employer treats the creator as if he did not even participate. Under this type of arrangement the writer will receive a fee for creating the copyright. In today's indie film market there are instances where the composer will accept a lesser up-front fee (or even on spec) and in return, gets to keep 50-100% of their publishing, rather than handing all or any of it over to the production company.

Writer Share:
Represents the authorship of the song. Unless assigned or sold, the writer share remains the property of the author.

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Oud Publishing
by M. Alaly
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by M. Vice
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The AIMP fully endorses the proposed CRB Subpart B settlement The AIMP fully supports the increase of the mechanical rate for physical sales and digital downloads from 9.1 cents to 12 cents. …

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AIMP Supports The MMA's MLC In a recently issued joint statement, the Association of Independent Music Publishers officials --National Chair and Los Angeles C …

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