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A song is a piece of music, usually accompanied with words. It combines melody and vocals, or musical works without words, that mimic the quality of a singing voice. The words of a song are called lyrics. Lyrics can include a series of verses, the longer sections of the song that tell the story, and a refrain, a short phrase repeated at the end of every verse. Songs can have a simple structure of one or two verses, or a more complex one with multiple verses and refrains.
In the UK, copyright for songs is covered by two Copyright Acts in 1911 and 1956 – as well as the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. International decisions such as the Berne Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention protect an original work in almost every other country in the world.
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 deems a song eligible for copyright protection if:
* It is written in music notation or recorded on tape or fixed in another form.
* It is original and hasn’t been copied from any other pre-existing musical work.
* The writer is either a British Citizen or is domiciled or resident within the UK, or the work is first published in the UK or a country that’s signed up to the Berne Convention.
In the UK, a song is copyrighted for up to 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the composer or author of the music dies. If the music was created outside the European Economic Area, the copyright exists for the period specified by the copyright rules in its country of origin, provided that this does not exceed 70 years.
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