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  • 1.1 Musical Composition Copyright Creation
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Overview of Copyright Requirements for Musical Compositions

A copyright is created by law when the musical composition is created [1]. Thus, a copyright does not require registration or any particular copyright mark. The only precondition is that the musical composition exceeds the required level of originality [2]. In other words, the musical composition must be the product of the composer's independent and original creative work. As a rule, the works is considered to exceed the required level of originality if it can be assumed that no-one else would have produced a similar work, had they undertaken to create one. There are no other requirements to achieving copyright protection. Thus, the musical composition's artistic quality, or the time spent on creating the work is not relevant from the copyright's point of view. Whether or not a musical composition exceeds the required level of originality is decided on a case-to-case basis [3]. The Copyright Council has assessed a musical composition's level of originality, e.g., in its opinion 2003:11 [4].


Photo (left): Wilma Hurskainen                                                               

Right: Album by Shogun Kunitoki, containing examples of joint musical compositions. More examples: Shogun Kunitoki at Myspace
Graphic: Shogun Kunitoki


The copyright is created to the person creating the independent and original work, for example a composer. A copyright can be created to a natural person only. [5] Thus, a company or some other organization can obtain a copyright only by agreement. A copyright can also be created simultaneously to two or more individuals. This type of a work is called a joint work. [6] For example, a musical composition created through the creative input of two or more individuals, where the authors' contributions do not create separate parts, is a joint work. The authors of such a work are all considered composers, or authors, of the work, should the creative input of each author exceed the required level of originality. The authors of a joint work control the exploitation of their work together. [7]

When the authors' contributions to the whole work can be separated, the work is called a collective work. [8] In that case, each author controls their part only, independent of the other authors. For example, an operetta can contain separable parts of speech, dance and music. A musical composition, too, can consist of independent parts created by a composer and an author of lyrics. In the Supreme Court decision KKO 1956 II 76 (Mustalaisparoni) the court considered the operetta's music and text to form separable and independent works of art. [9] The writer of the text was not shown to have contributed a creative input in the creation of the musical composition that would have made him an author of the musical composition together with the composer.

Notes and References

[1] Copyright Act

[2] Copyright Act

[3] Copyright Act

[4] The Copyright Council opinion 2003:11 minedu

[5] Copyright Act

[6] Copyright Act

[7] Copyright Act

[8] Copyright Act

[9] Supreme Court decision KKO 1956 II 76 (Mustalaisparoni)