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Copyright and Intellectual Property: Home

This guide includes Berklee's Intellectual Property Policy along with tutorials and more resources on music copyright.

William and Mary Videos

Music Copyright video series by William & Mary Libraries


Reposted with permission under CC-BY-4.0 license except music by Hark licensed to Videoscribe.


Part 1: Music Copyright Overview Part 2: Musical Contributions Part 3: Sound Recording Copyright

Frequently Asked Questions

I cowrote a song with some of my classmates. Who owns the copyright on the song?
You and your cowriters are the joint authors of this musical work, although Berklee may use the work for noncommercial purposes in the classroom or for purposes of promoting its programs. We advise all student co-creators to draw up private contractual arrangements (e.g., percentage splits for songwriters), as is common practice in the music industry. Berklee does not provide legal advice in the drawing up of contracts.
A faculty member cowrote a song with me. Who owns the copyright?
As an enrolled student at Berklee, you own the copyright to all of your work, even if faculty members have helped you to create the work.  The limited exception to this rule is if you and the faculty member have agreed to written “objectively fair” terms concerning copyright ownership.
I made a sound recording in a Berklee studio. Who owns the master recording?

You jointly own the sound recording with any other students who participated, and you are free to distribute and monetize it. Berklee may use the work for noncommercial purposes freely in promotional materials, in the classroom, or for purposes of promoting its programs.

In connection with my studies at Berklee, I want to make a recording that uses a sample of another student’s work. Do I have to ask anyone’s permission?

No, you do not need permission as long as you are using the work for noncommercial purposes within the "Berklee Commons." Unlike commercial recordings (for which you need to get permission to sample audio), your creative work is protected by the Berklee Commons for the duration of your enrollment, meaning that you can use this audio in your work.


However, in the spirit of professional courtesy, we recommend that you notify and credit that original work and creator.

One of my songs appeared on the Berklee YouTube channel. Will I receive royalties?

Yes, assuming that you have registered your song with a performing rights organization (PRO) such as ASCAP or BMI, and subject to YouTube policies. Berklee is not responsible for registering students’ work with PROs.

I wrote a research paper that I presented at a conference. Do I own the copyright, and can I publish the paper?
If your job does not require research, or if the research was undertaken at your own initiative outside of your regular duties, you own the copyright. If the research was commissioned by Berklee or was part of your normal duties, then the copyright is owned by Berklee.
I wrote a song/composition with a work colleague. Does Berklee own the copyright to this song?
No, Berklee doesn't own the copyright unless the work was specifically commissioned by Berklee, in which case you will receive a contract outlining the ownership of the work.