Compendium of U.S. Copyright Practices, 3rd Edition

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802.9 (E) (4) Beats

802.9 (E) (4) Beats

A beat is an instrumental or drum track often created in a studio as a background for a song or rap. When this term is used it may be unclear whether the applicant is referring to the music or the sound recording, or both, or whether the beat is based in whole or in part on preexisting music, or is completely original. When the beat was created entirely by the author, the applicant should describe the authorship as “music” or “musical beat.” Where a preexisting beat is used, the applicant generally should exclude this material from the claim.

NOTE: Some companies offer so-called “royalty-free” beats for download or purchase. Often, the beat is sold to a large number of people and there is no written agreement between the purchaser and the company offering the beats. Thus, even if the company states that the purchaser is the copyright owner of the beat, the purchaser may be merely a nonexclusive licensee of the work rather than an owner. As such, the applicants should exclude the beat from the claim.

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