Introduction to Music Licensing

What is music licensing?
Music licensing is the process by which songwriters, in theory, get paid for their work. In much the same way you don’t own that copy of Doom or Windows (or Linux), a purchaser of recorded music does not own the music, they own the media that music is stored on, and they have a limited right to use the music for themselves, so long as ‘using’ doesn’t mean ‘making unlicensed copies of’ or ‘broadcasting’ the recorded work.

There has long been a school of thought that those who buy music have the right to do as they please with it. By the same token there is school of thought that says that an artist or composer has the sole exclusive right to decide how and when their work will be used, and for what price.

While the arguments on both sides are loud and have both valid, positive points and invalid, negative points, it is not the intent of this article to engage that particular debate. However, it is worth noting that the debate exists; at its very basic level, it comes down to a question of the right of an artist to be paid versus the right of a consumer to own what they purchase.

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