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

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803.6 Derivative Sound Recordings


803.6 Derivative Sound Recordings


A derivative sound recording is a sound recording that is based on preexisting sounds that have been “rearranged, remixed, or otherwise altered in sequence or quality.” 17 U.S.C. § 114 (B). Preexisting sounds may include sounds that have been previously published, previously registered, sounds in the public domain, sounds fixed before February 15, 1972, or sounds that are owned by another party.


The applicant should identify any preexisting work or works that the derivative recording is based on or incorporates, and should provide a brief general description of the additional material covered by the copyright claim being registered. For guidance on these procedures, see Chapter 600, Section 621.


IMPORTANT NOTE: A sound recording usually embodies a preexisting musical composition, literary work, or dramatic work, and in that sense it is a derivative work of the underlying musical / literary / dramatic work which has been performed and recorded. For registration purposes, the Office does not require the musical / literary / dramatic work to be excluded from a claim in sound recording authorship, because the preexisting work is presumed to be excluded unless it is expressly claimed in the application.


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