If you’re a musician, a composer, sound engineer or you work in any creative industry, the chances are you will have been a victim of plagiarism at some point.
In this digital age, it’s all too easy for someone to steal your work, claim it as their own and earn money from it. But there are ways to prevent this happening.
My name is Daniel Jones and I’m the founder of Tune My Music, an online service that increases the exposure of upcoming artists through social media. I also used to be a professional DJ and had my music stolen on numerous occasions. This is what led me to create Tune My Music in 2013.
Since then, we’ve discovered thousands of examples of plagiarism – both unintentional and deliberate – and have helped hundreds of artists get the recognition they deserve.
In this post I’ll explain how others can easily steal your work and how you can protect yourself by adding a musical watermark to your tracks to prove ownership.
If you are an artist, music producer or songwriter, you might have heard of sonic watermarking. A sonic watermark is an inaudible identification that can be placed into a piece of audio.
At first glance, it might sound like a complicated process but its fairly simple to do and one of the most effective ways to protect your musical work.
It’s important to understand why you may need this type of protection, so here are three good reasons to add a sonic watermark to your original music today:
1. PROVE YOU ARE THE ORIGINAL ARTIST
The first reason is also the most obvious. Adding a sonic watermark will prove that you are the original owner of the material. In other words, it proves that you were the person who created the song, recording or production first!
If you’ve never experienced the frustration of someone else claiming credit for your work or even worse, getting money from it; just wait, because if you’re successful as an artist or music producer, it’s going to happen sooner than later!
It seems so simple. You write a song, you record it and then you put it out there in the world.
If you’re lucky, people will hear your music and like it. Maybe they’ll buy your record or come to your show. If you’re really lucky, they might even pay you to go on tour and play at their venue.
But what if someone copies your work? What if they steal your song and try to sell it as their own? How do you prove that YOU are the original artist?
The answer is simpler than you think: with a digital watermark!
Copyright laws are being tested in the electronic age. If you post a track on your website, and someone downloads the track and posts it on their website, can you prove that you created the original work? Yes.
The first step is to create a “musical watermark”. This is a unique sound or melody that identifies the author of a piece of music. In many cases, this piece will be hidden beneath another layer of music, so that it is unrecognizable to anyone listening to the song. The more complex the watermark, the better. It should be easy for you to hear but hard for anyone else to pick up on.
For example, if you have a particular favorite note or chord progression, something only you would know about, that could be used as a musical watermark. Then when another artist “borrows” from your work, that mark will still be present in his version of the song. It might not even be noticeable to him or his fans, but it will show up in an analysis of the track’s frequency spectrum.
Once your copyright has been violated (or if you want to make sure it hasn’t been violated), you can use forensic audio analysis software to analyze your track and
Every musician has heard the horror stories of the writer or producer who has taken the credit for another’s work. The industry is full of lawsuits, stolen beats and claim jumpers. But what if there was a way to prove that you were the original creator of your song?
Enter the new world of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. With this new software, it is possible to insert a digital watermark into an audio file making it possible to track its unique fingerprint. In other words, with this technology in place, when a song is played on a radio station or on YouTube, the original creator can be identified.
How does it work? The technology is similar to how engineers convert an analog signal into a digital one. By identifying specific data points within a piece of music, the system is able to identify those points as unique markers in a digital watermark that can be tracked across networks and music platforms.
Once that unique marker is placed in your song file, you are able to create a time-stamped copy of your music as further evidence of its existence. Then, if someone claims that they created your song, you have proof that you created it first!
This technology can also prevent illegal downloading by protecting against unauthorized use (or misuse)
Electronic music is the most difficult genre of music to protect. It is easy to copy, distribute, and change information. As a result, artists are finding it increasingly difficult to make money off of their work.
Watermarking is the process of embedding information into data, typically a digital image, audio or video file. It can lay dormant and undetectable until activation occurs by using a password or other unlock code. Watermarks are used to locate ownership information of copies made in violation of copyright laws.
In addition to copyright protection, watermarking technology can be used to prove ownership of works of authorship when challenged by others. It can also be used for other purposes such as detecting tampering or tracking history (see: Digital Rights Management).
The concept behind watermarking is similar to that of steganography, which also involves hiding information inside another data object; however, steganography also involves hiding the fact that there is hidden information within the data object.
As a regular contributor to the music blog, I’m always interested in the issues of copyright and plagiarism that emerge from time to time. One of the most notorious cases is the Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony, which has been mired in controversy since its release in 1997.
The song samples an orchestral version of The Rolling Stones’ The Last Time, a cover of the original by Andrew Oldham Orchestra. It features strings arranged by David Whitaker based on a chord progression by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The Verve received permission to use a sample of the song but were later sued for using more than they had paid for. They ended up having to hand over 100% of their royalties to the Stones’ publishers.
In March 2008, Richard Ashcroft attempted to re-negotiate his deal with The Rolling Stones so he could receive a portion of the song’s royalties. He claimed that he was never credited properly and should be able to receive some of the money made from his work on it. This move came after Mick Jagger and Keith Richards gave up their rights to 100% of their royalties when they assigned them over in 1989. In return for giving up their rights, they received 12% of all publishing revenue generated by B