Album Packaging

Album Packaging


Album Name

Names, titles, and short phrases or expressions are not subject to copyright protection, so you can use a title that has been used before, but you should stay away from trademarked names. They are the exclusive property of trademark owners who may sue.


You should credit the performances, the master recording, artwork, photographs, and music. Although not required, it is common courtesy and may help avoid legal problems.

Performances - All performances on the album should be credited. An exception to this rule occurs when a performer has waived his or her credit line in a work-for-hire agreement. Producer or sideman agreements may contain specific wording or placement requirements that should be followed.

Master Recording - Who owns the copyright in the master recording? Copyright in a sound recording protects the particular series of sounds fixed in the recording against unauthorized reproduction or distribution. This copyright is distinct from copyright in the actual songs and is usually owned by the record company. A copyright notice is not technically required, but is recommended. It is common practice to include the following statement after the notice: "This work is protected under the copyright laws and any unauthorized duplication or distribution is prohibited by law." Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is not required. But, like notice, it is recommended.

Artwork - Artwork is copyrighted separately, and you must secure permission to use any artwork not owned by the band. When obtaining permission, the terms of the license or assignment should be put in writing. Putting the copyright notice on both the jewel case and the tray card is recommended. When the owner of the sound recording also owns the copyright in the artwork, the copyright notice for the two properties can be combined.

Music - A single copyright notice may be used if all the compositions are written by the artist (controlled by one publisher.) For compositions written by other writers, a separate copyright notice should be provided for each song. Writing credits should appear below the title of each song whether original or cover. Each writer's name should be provided. A first initial and last name is sufficient.

Song Lyrics

Rights to record a cover song do not include the rights to print the lyrics. Those rights must be obtained separately from the copyright owner (the publisher or the publisher's agent.)

Notice of Trademark and Service Marks

Do you have the right to use the name of your band and the name of your label? Prior to registration, the designation TM should be placed on the right hand shoulder of the name or logo. Once a federal trademark is registered, the mark should be changed to ®.

Photo Releases

Any recognizable person appearing on your album has a right to publicity. Photos and any other images of people should be cleared in advance.

Bar Code

For retail sales, the product must have a UPC Code or bar code. Most album duplicators will provide a barcode at no additional cost. If you plan to register with SoundScan, a company that tracks music retail sales, be sure that the barcode is specifically for your album. For more information about barcodes, talk to your manufacturer or check out the Uniform Code Council.

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