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Ask a Music Lawyer:  How to Actually Hire a Lawyer

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I've previously discussed what to consider when hiring an attorney and how to find the right attorney for you. Some questions have been asked about what the hiring process actually looks like once you have found the attorney with whom you want to work. Overall it’s fairly simple, however, the process can be filled with uncertainty if you’ve never hired an attorney before. Procedures vary slightly between attorneys, but here’s an idea based on the general landscape and my own personal experience.

How Songwriters Just Lost Music Performance Income Because of the U.S. Department of Justice

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9/19/16 update: Federal Judge Louis Stanton issued an order rejecting the US Department of Justice’s interpretation of the BMI consent decree, which is a huge victory for songwriters. Read more about the details of the ruling on billboard.com.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently issued a massive blow to all songwriters and music publishers that will have repercussions both in the U.S. and abroad, and threatens the ability of creators to earn a living from their music as well as creativity itself.

Since 1941, performing rights organizations (PROs) ASCAP and BMI, which track and collect performance royalties on behalf of songwriters and music publishers, have been subject to consent decrees issued by the DOJ. These consent decrees are agreements that allow the government to regulate ASCAP and BMI’s license fees and how they operate in order to prevent monopolization and encourage competition. (The two other PROs, SESAC and GMR, are both independent, privately owned companies that operate on a for-profit basis and are not subject to consent decrees.)

Ask a Music Lawyer: When Is the Right Time to Register Your Songs With the Copyright Office?

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A question often posed to me by songwriters is when to copyright their songs. Under United States law, a work is protected by copyright if meets sufficient standards of originality and is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” (17 U.S. Code § 102) If these requirements are met, then the work is technically protected under copyright law.

However, without federal copyright registration, the work will not receive the additional benefits of registration, such as the ability to sue for copyright infringement. Therefore, I always recommend that clients register their works with the Copyright Office.

Depending on the situation, though, the timing of when to actually register a work might vary. Here are a few guidelines to help you out.

Don't Get Screwed Over: 3 Times Musicians Think a Handshake Deal Is Enough, But It's Not

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Musicians often ask me when they need to “get it in writing” as opposed to just having a verbal agreement or handshake deal. The real answer to that question is that you should always get agreements in writing, but there are three common scenarios where it's especially essential. Doing so will provide you with much needed protection later on when money or fame create unanticipated problems. Here's how you handle each situation.

Artists: Are You Sure You Own Your Masters? A Music Lawyer Explains

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You might think, "Hey, I recorded these songs, so I own them." But do you really? Read on to find out.