MUSICAL AND DRAMATIC foundation of the law of copyright in musical and dramatic compositions was laid in the Act 8 & 4 Will. IV. c. 15, known as Sir Bulwer Lytton's Act, and the Copyright Act, 1842 ; but afterwards were passed the Copyright (Musical Compositions) Act, 1882, the Musical (Summary Proceedings) Act, 1902, and the Musical Copyright Act, 1906, which three Acts had reference to musical copyright alone. These statutes were ultimately, except the last two, repealed by the Copyright Act, 1911, which now protects the authors of dramatic and musical pieces. A dramatist or composer has a similar copyright, so far as regards the term, as a literary author. [See COPYRIGHT.] Musical or dramatic copyright means the sole right of the owner of such copyright to, or to authorise another person to, produce or reproduce the work or any sub stantial part thereof in any material form whatsoever, and to perform any substantial part thereof in public. This right includes, in the case of a dramatic work, the sole right to convert it into a novel or other dramatic work. In the case of both dramatic and musical works it includes a like right to make any record, perforated roll, cinematograph film, or other contrivance, by means of which the work may be mechanically performed or delivered. A "musical work" is, generally, any combination of melody and harmony, or either of them, reduced to writing, or otherwise graphically produced or reproduced. A " dramatic work " includes any piece for recitation, choreo graphic work, or entertainment in dumb show, the scenic arrangement or acting forrn of which is fixed in writing or otherwise, and any cinematograph production where the arrangement or acting form or the combination of inci dents represented give the work an original character.
The provisions of the Act in respect of the property of musical and dramatic copyright apply to the liberty of representing or performing a dramatic piece or musical composition ; and the first public representa tion or performance of such a piece or composition is deemed equivalent to the first publication of a book. Thus the necessity for a "copy right representation or performance." Until the author has printed and published his composition, he or his assignees alone have the right of representing it, and are the owners of the copyright. In the ca.se of a dramatic piece or musical composition in manuscript, the person having the sole liberty of representing or performing, or causing to be represented or performed the same, may assign his rights to another, either wholly or partially, and may grant any interest in those rights by licence. No such a.ssignment or grant is valid unless in writing signed by the owner of the rights dealt with, or by his duly authorised agent. The author, who is also first owner of the copyright, cannot vest in an a.ssignee or licensee any rights in the work beyond the expiration of twenty-five years front the death of the author.
The author of a dramatic or musical composition who is entitled to, and is desirous of, retaining in his own hands exclusively the right of its public representation or performance, should print upon the title-page of every published copy a notice to the public to the effect that the right of public representation or performance is reserved. This raises a legal presumption
that he is in fact the author and owner of the copyright. A person is liable as an infringer who for his private profit permits a theatre or other place of entertainment to be used for the performance in public of the work, without the consent of the owner of the copyright, unless he wa.s not aware, and had no reasonable ground for suspecting, that the performance would be an infringement. A person who immediately before the commencement of the Act of 1911 is entitled to a right or interest in a right specified in the first column of the following schedule is threafter entitled to the right or interest specified in the second column :— one who infringes a musical or dramatic copyright is liable to be proceeded against for damages, not less in amount than forty shillings, and may be restrained by the Court from further infringement. And by an Act of George III., adopted by the Copyright Act, it is provided that in the action for damages the defendant may be ordered to pay double costs, but the action must be brought within twelve months from the commission of the offence. But so far as regards musical copyright it was found that proceedings for damages and an injunction were practically useless, especially when the offenders were men of no financial or commercial position. Accordingly the Act of 1902 was passed which provided for the summary seizure and destruction of any " pirated musical work "—a term defined by the Act as meaning " any musical work, written, printed, or other wise reproduced, without the consent lawfully given by the owner of the copyright in such musical work." Under the Act a court of summary jurisdiction, upon the application of the owner of the copyright in any musical work, may act as follows : If satisfied by evidence that there is reasonable ground for believing that pirated copies of such musical work are being hawked, carried about, sold, or offered for sale, may, by order, autho rise a constable to seize such copies without warrant and to bring them before the Court, and the Court on proof that the copies are pirated may order them to be destroyed, or to be delivered up to the owner of the copyright if he makes application for that delivery. There is also a special power of seizure from hawkers. If any one hawks, carries about, sells, or offers for sale any pirated copy of a musical work, every such pirated copy can be seized by any constable without a warrant, on the written request of the apparent owner of the copyright, or of his agent thereto authorised in writing ; but this seizure is at the risk of the owner. Upon the seizure the pirated copies are conveyed by the constable before a court of summary jurisdiction ; and on proof that they are infringements of copyright, they will be forfeited or destroyed or otherwise dealt with as the Court may think fit. The provisions of the Act of 1906, which provides penalties for being in possession of pirated music, and confers special powers upon the police for dealing with offenders, are set out in the article on MUSICAL COPYRIGHT in the Appendix.