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Basic guide on the registration of musical works in Cuba

There is a widespread myth that once someone composes a piece of music and believes it will be very successful (which almost always happens, not that it is successful, but that the author believes that it is the best), they have to run to register it because it can be plagiarized or simply because this step is mandatory before recording it or sending it to a contest or doing anything with it. When I call it a myth, I mean something that is far from the truth in several ways.

In the first place, in almost the whole world and also in Cuba, copyright or intellectual property laws grant protection to works, and exclusive rights over them to their authors by the sole fact - and from the moment - of their creation. That is, if you have created an original musical work, even if you have it on a piece of paper in the drawer of the dresser or recorded in an audio on your phone, the law already protects you.

The only place where it is not worth having it - or it is worth it, but it is not protected there - is in your head and without it having yet acquired a defined external form. Even if you have sung the chorus to your friend on the P5, or commented to your chicx in privacy where the story of the song goes. Be careful what you hum on the bus or confess when you are in love. The law does not go that far and only protects the work once it exists in some physical form (text, audio recording, score). And this, of course, is the same for literary, audiovisual or any other kind of works.

Therefore, the eventual registration of a musical work - unpublished or not, and which in the Cuban case is planned to be carried out in the National Copyright Center (Cenda) - is voluntary and does not constitute rights. The latter means that, even if you have a piece of paper that says you have registered Until the boardwalk dries up in Cenda, that document does not make you the author of the song, and if you exploit it commercially without being the true author, whoever is can sue you and prove (with all the evidence that is valid in Law such as expert opinions, testimonials and documentaries) that he is, Jacob Forever, the true composer and not you, no matter how many pieces of paper from Cenda with a stamp say it and how much you know it by heart or sing it better than the creator himself.

Even if the work is duly protected in Cenda or in any other intellectual property registry of those that exist in various countries around the world, it may be subject to plagiarism or other unauthorized uses, and the arbitrator or court that resolves the conflict, if when it occurs, it will only take the apparent ownership granted by the registry - the Cenda slip - as one of the tests to be taken into account, but not the definitive one. You may also have heard talk - and if you are a musician you have practiced - of another type of registration (the appropriate thing would be to call it documentation) in some collective rights management entity. In the Cuban case, it would be in the Cuban Musical Copyright Agency (Acdam), although there are authors who belong to the General Society of Authors and Editors (Sgae) of Spain, or others from different countries and it is in those that register their works .

You may also have heard talk - and if you are a musician you have practiced - of another type of registration (the appropriate thing would be to call it documentation) in some collective rights management entity. In the Cuban case, it would be in the Cuban Musical Copyright Agency (Acdam), although there are authors who belong to the General Society of Authors and Editors (Sgae) of Spain, or others from different countries and it is in those that register their works .

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This process, which is also declarative and admits proof to the contrary, is carried out for the purposes of the collection and distribution of royalties that could be generated by the commercialization of the works, and that this type of entity manages and collects in favor and in representation of composers and authors in front of commercial music users (radio stations, television channels, audiovisual production companies, hotels, discotheques, bars, digital distribution platforms, and a long etcetera). Therefore, here it is not worthwhile or does not rush the registration of unpublished works or that nobody is singing, recording or exploiting commercially, because, as the saying goes, a stopped ship does not earn freight.

The documentation of works in the collective management entity is a relatively simple process, which, if carried out analogically, requires the delivery of a musical pattern that includes the chord symbol and the melodic line plus the lyrics, in the event that the work has text, and that it also requires the delivery of a copy of any contract of transfer of rights that the authors or composers have signed with a music publisher or publisher. In this way, it is defined for the collective management entity how the income produced by the work should be distributed, if it is lucky enough to produce it.

If the musical work you have created is not completely original, in the sense that you used a fragment, or a background, or a piece of the lyrics or whatever, of a work that already existed, or if what you have done is an arrangement or a version, no matter how good it turned out, then you cannot register your beautiful musical work, until you have obtained the permission of the person who created the original. This is important and there are no exceptions: neither that the author is dead, nor that it is your socix, nor that yours is better, nor that it is only six measures.

The transformation of a work (which the law protects, as we have already said, from its creation) is the exclusive right of its author or of his representatives or successors and only they can authorize it. Because of this limitation, many electronic music creators and DJ samplers are unable to register their works. I'm not judging if this is good or bad for a genre, I'm just saying what the law allows and what it doesn't.

Earlier I mentioned that it had no exceptions and it's not quite like that, but exceptions are very precise; the most commons are:

-That the work is in the public domain, that is, the time required by law has elapsed since the death of its creator. For example, when in your music you use a Vivaldi fragment or a Yoruba prayer that comes from anonymous Afro-Cuban popular culture.

-That the use is non-commercial and is expressly provided as a limitation authorized by law. In music this limitation is hardly used. I think it could be applied, in keeping with Cuban legislation, to the use of a piece of text from a song by Raúl Torres, incorporated into the school hymn of a primary school.

Summarizing:

-The registration for the purposes of intellectual property is not mandatory for your musical work to be protected.

-You must not register a work that is not your own or in which you have used fragments or versioned an original work without the express authorization of the person who created it or its representatives.

-There is also a record or documentation that is required for the collective management of the commercial activity of the works.

Finally, perhaps it is worth clarifying that names (of musical groups, projects or shows) are not protected by copyright under Cuban law and are not registered as musical works; although they could be registered as trade names or trademarks in the Industrial Property Registry of the OCPI. Phonographic supports are not registered as works either, as is the case (in favor of their producer), in other countries.

But these topics would already be the subject of another article.

Intellectual property registration

National Copyright Center (Cenda). Calle 15, No. 604 a/ B and C, El Vedado, Havana. Telephone: (+53 7) 8323571

Mode: Face-to-face

Requires: Sheet Music and Lyrics (if you have one)

Cost: 20.00 CUP (for the registration, deposit of the work and a copy of the registration certificate)

Registration for commercial purposes (Previously requires the signing of a representation contract with the collective management entity)

1- Cuban Agency for Musical Copyright (ACDAM). Calle 6, No. 303 between 13 and 15. El Vedado, Havana. Telephone: (+53 7) 8333172

Mode: Face-to-face

Requires: Sheet music and lyrics (if any)

Cost: None

2- General Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE). Service to Internet Members (https://enlinea.sgae.es/socios). Telephone: (+53 7) 8012657

Mode: On-line

Requires: Mp3 + Lyrics in PDF (if you have)

Cost: None

Darsi Fernández Hyperlink with human figure. He has a bad memory only for what suits him. He dreams of retiring to read. More posts

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