Detroit musicians have an opportunity to learn about copyright law this week

Feb 20, 2019 at 1:00 am

It's certainly tough out there for musicians. With diminishing support from record labels, musicians are tasked with navigating the music industry on their own — which can be hard to do on top of buying instruments and equipment, finding time for rehearsals, booking gigs, and, of course, writing good songs.

Then there's also another aspect that's equally as important, though not as glamorous to being in the music business: copyright law.

That's why Karyn Temple, the acting register of copyrights and director of the U.S. Copyright Office, is returning to her native Detroit as part of the Copyright Office's new program "Copyright for Musicians."

"We can directly talk to our artists in the community about the importance of copyrighting," Temple says. "Of course, for me personally, I liked the offer as well because I'm from Detroit, and went to high school in Detroit. I'm always willing to come back, so that's kind of how we came about developing the program."

On Thursday, the Detroit Public Library Main Branch will host a free workshop designed to help musicians gain further insight into copyright law. Temple will serve as a guest speaker alongside several copyright executives. The event will also feature a panel discussion hosted by entertainment lawyers and Catie Rowland, the U.S. Copyright Office's associate register of copyrights and director of public information and education.

Temple says attendees can expect to learn more details about the benefits of registering copyrighted work, along with tips on how to deal with infringement.

"A professional musician should understand what their rights are, why they should get paid, how they should get paid, what they should be looking out for, and why they might want to register their work with our office," Temple says. "They should make sure they have control over their work, and understand that they're the ones who will reap the benefits of their work and that they have a general understanding of copyright law."

The United States Copyright Office is a separate federal department within the Library of Congress, which maintains records of copyright registration for works of original authorship. "The Copyright Office — part of our mission is outreach and education, to talk to the public about the benefits and importance of copyrights," Temple says. "We have an entire department called our Outreach and Education department. We regularly go to presentations throughout the country."

Temple says the workshop will also begin a process of expansion of the Midwest. "We have been doing a lot of presentations in New York and California because that's where a lot of musicians, artists, and authors are," she says. "One of the things we wanted to do was go beyond and engage with the artistic community outside those two areas."

Of course, Detroit has long been a hotbed for creative talent as well. "This is a great program because Detroit is the home of Motown," Temple says. "And Detroit is part of our emphasis on meeting our artistic community where they are, as opposed to having them have to come to us."

Temple asks that anyone interested in attending the event come prepared to learn and take notes. She notes the event is just an introduction to materials that are otherwise available. "Everything I say will be something they would be able to access on the website as well," she says. "I think bringing themselves, enthusiasm for the subject, and an inquiring mind on the subject is all we really need."

Temple will host workshops from 10 a.m.-noon on Thursday, Feb. 21 at the Detroit Public Library – Main Branch, 5201 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-481-1300; (admission is free); and from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, 651 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit; 313-596-0200; ($10 suggested donation).

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