• Singers
  • Musicians
  • Songwriters
  • Record Producers &
    Media Personalities

Attorney Bradley A. Thomas is a former Co-Chair of the D.C. Bar’s Arts, Entertainment, Media and Sports Law (AEMS) Section Steering Committee. The AEMS Section is the Bar sanctioned affiliation of D.C. licensed attorneys with knowledge, expertise and/or experience in practicing in the area of representation of actors, artists, athletes, broadcasters, musicians, songwriters, producers, publishers, radio and television personalities, and sports agents.

For more information about the D.C. Bar’s AEMS Section, log onto and click on the link for the Arts, Entertainment, Media and Sports Law Section.

Additional Copyright Information:


If I write a song, when and how do I get copyright protection?

As soon as you put your work down in tangible form (manuscript or sound recording), you have a copyright in that song.  However, to enforce your claim to that song in court, you must first have registered a claim with the U.S. Copyright Office. The best advice is to register your claim before you perform or distribute your work for the first time.

What if I am one of two or more writers of a song? Who has the copyright?

The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

What if I was hired to write a song as part of the soundtrack of a movie or the score of a musical play?

Generally, the employer is the copyright owner of a work made for hire.

If I write a song and someone buys my manuscript after the fact, does my copyright automatically transfer to the buyer?

Transfer of a material object that embodies a copyright protected work does not automatically convey copyright in the work itself.

I dance and choreograph dance routines. Can I get a copyright for my choreography?

Choreography is not copyrightable unless and until it has been notated or recorded.

Can I copyright the name of my band or singing group?

Names, titles and slogans, like ideas, concepts and principles are not copyrightable.

What is meant by the term "publication"?

Publication is the distribution of copies or recordings of a work to the public by sale, rental, lease or loan.

Must I place a copyright notice on my work in order to secure copyright protection?

Since March 1, 1989, use of a copyright notice on published works has been optional, though it is generally a good idea.

Can I sell or lease the right to publish or perform my copyright protected song to more than one performer or publisher?

Yes. A transfer of copyrights is not exclusive unless exclusivity is specified in a writing signed by the copyright owner.




Approved Production Contract

Broadway Production

A production staged in the Broadway district of New York City in a theater which seats 500 or more people

Dramatization Rights Agreement

An agreement which gives a producer or an author the right to create and stage a play based on another work

Gross Weekly Box Office Receipts

The gross proceeds of sales of tickets, less all taxes imposed upon admissions, any fees or commissions paid in connection with theater parties, group sales, or benefits and fees paid to credit card organizations and automated ticket distribution or remote box offices


The circumstances under which all dramatic and musical rights in the play become a unified whole for the purpose of performance and for the disposition of audiovisual, merchandizing and other subsidiary rights

Off-Broadway Production

A New York City Production staged in a theater which seats between 99 and 499 persons

Production Contract

The agreement between the producer and the author whereby the author grants to the producer the right to present live state productions of the play


The point at which aggregate operating profits exceed production expenses

Subsidiary Rights

Rights in the play controlled by the author such as audiovisual rights and, after the expiration of the producer’s production rights, live stage production rights

Selected scenes from the 2007 production of
‘The Trial of the Son of Man’,
a musical play written and directed by Attorney Bradley A. Thomas

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