Q: Registering copyright on sound recordings with multiple performers?
I will be registering several musical compositions of which I am the sole author, along with several sound recordings of those compositions. Because I am the sole author of the compositions, I will hold the exclusive copyright on the compositions themselves.
I am the producer and performer of the sound recordings, but I also had co-performers who I engaged to take part in the recordings, some of whom I am no longer in contact with. Am I able to register the copyright of the sound recordings on my own? Or must I somehow split copyright ownership of the recordings with my co-performers, and how can I do so if I can't contact them?
A: The sound recordings are "works for hire" whose copyright you own by virtue of your having engaged the performers, and you can register the copyrights in those recordings. In the application to register them you will indicate that the contributions of the performers were for hire. The copyright office does not inquire and does not care whether you fulfilled any agreements for payment of the performers, which is a matter just between you and the performers.
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