Featured image reads World Copyright Laws for Musicians

What are the world copyright laws for musicians around the world? You might think it’s a little boring, but it’s one subject every artist needs to be aware of. Therefore, we’re going to discuss the various global copyright laws today in this post. We cover all the major countries where your music may be sold. So, let’s take a deep dive and make sure that you remain out of trouble as a music artist.

By the end of this post, you will…

  • …Understand the various global copyright laws and legislation
  • …Hopefully not be so bored that you want to go back to bed.
  • …Be confident that you can proceed on the right side of the law

Copyright symbols and laws provide protection to creators, including music artists, by granting them exclusive rights to their works. The scope and specifics of these rights can vary significantly from one country to another. Here are the most common copyright symbols and an overview of how copyright laws function for music artists globally:

The copyright symbol is the most widely recognized symbol used to denote copyright ownership. It is typically followed by the year of first publication and also by the name of the copyright owner. For example, “© 2023 John Doe.”

The Sound Recording Copyright Symbol is used specifically for sound recordings and music videos. Furthermore, this symbol protects the recording itself rather than the underlying musical composition or lyrics. Therefore, It is used similarly to the © symbol.

All Rights Reserved

Although it is not a symbol, this phrase is often used alongside copyright symbols to indicate that the copyright holder reserves all of the exploitation rights.

United States

Copyright in the United States is governed by the Copyright Act of 1976. This legislation stipulates that music artists are granted protection for their music and lyrics, as well as any sound recordings. Terms of copyright for works created after 1978 is the life of the author plus 70 years for personal works. This is similar to many other countries as you will discover from what you read below. However, music is more liberally available from 95 years from publication for works made for hire. By this time, the artist is likely either ancient or they have passed away.

European Union

Copyright laws in the European Union are harmonized to a large extent. However, specifics can vary by country. In general, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. The EU also has strong moral rights that protect the personal connection between artists and their works.

United Kingdom

After leaving the European Union, the United Kingdom continues to follow similar rules to the European Union with copyright protection lasting for the life of the author plus 70 years. The UK also recognizes both economic and moral rights.


In Canada, the copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 50 years. Canada also recognizes moral rights, which include the right of integrity and the right to be associated with the work. It may be considered to be harsher on the artists and their loved ones as after the 50 year period is complete, the copyright holder has to relinquish the finances that they were receiving from sales. However, there are rights that we don’t see in other countries. These include the right of integrity and the right of association. This somewhat protects the family and generations after the author has passed over.


Japan is similar to Canada because copyright lasts for 50 years after the author’s death. However, this is for personal works. Copyright for anonymous or pseudonymous works, copyright lasts 50 years from publication. Therefore, the author could still be alive and weell, but forced to relinquish their copyright to their work in their older years. This may be seen as unfair by many and it is easy to see why it is unfair. I’m not sure I would like my copyrighted work to be freely available to copy in my old age. However, this is only in Japan which is a small corner of the world. Your protection remains active elsewhere.


Australian copyright law protects music for the life of the creator plus 70 years. Australia also recognizes moral rights, similar to the EU, the Us and the UK.


In Brazil, copyright on music lasts for 70 years after the author’s death. Copyright laws are quite stringent, with a strong enforcement regime. This can only be a good thing for the original artist of the work. However, your work could be seen as being against copyright, when in fact you don’t go against copyright.


Copyright protection in India extends for the life of the author plus 60 years. The law covers both music and lyrics Therefore, your lyrics cannot be used to another tune by another artist. Therefore, it’s best to be careful. After reading this post, you should have more idea about what you can and can’t do with music, but it is very wise to adhere to and respect the original author of the music..


China may be seen as the most liberal region on this list because the copyright term is the life of the author plus 50 years. However, copyright law has been undergoing reforms to better protect creators in the digital age.


Now you know what the basic copyright laws are for each of the countries in this list, there is no need for you to break the law. Don’t be a Vanilla Ice and blatantly use another artist’s baseline without even processing it, changing the key and turning it into something unrecognisable from the original. You can do that, but I highly recommend that you keep to these laws, however stringent they may be.

Music artists and producers must be aware of these differences, especially when distributing their music internationally. International treaties such as the Berne Convention facilitate some level of uniformity by requiring member countries to provide a minimum standard of protection to foreign works.

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