FAQ's

What is the NMPA? Why should I join NMPA? How do I join the NMPA? What does NMPA’s subsidiary, HFA, do exactly? What does a music publisher do? How can I contact a music publisher about publishing my work? What is a music copyright? Why is copyright important to a songwriter? What is fair use? How do I find the publisher of a work? Should I register my work with the Copyright Office?

What is the NMPA?

Founded in 1917, The National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) is the trade association representing American music publishers and their songwriter partners. The NMPA's mandate is to protect and advance the interests of music publishers and their songwriter partners in matters relating to the domestic and global protection of music copyrights.

Why should I join NMPA?

The NMPA is the leading trade association in the United States for music publishers, serving as a voice and advocate on behalf of music publishers and songwriters in the halls of Congress, the courtroom and federal agencies and the press.

NMPA is working to ensure the copyright protections so important in the physical world are maintained in the digital marketplace. Whether advocating to the government for better enforcement of intellectual property rights at home and abroad, or challenging business models built on infringement in the courtroom, the NMPA is a leading voice on all fronts.

How do I join the NMPA?

An application and information is available on our web site. Click here for information.

What does NMPA’s subsidiary, HFA, do exactly?

The Harry Fox Agency, Inc. is the leading licensing and rights management organization for music publishing catalogs in the United States. For more information about HFA visit http://www.harryfox.com/public/hfaPurpose.jsp.

To view frequently asked questions about licensing, especially licensing for CDs, digital downloads and streams, and ringtones visit http://www.harryfox.com/public/FAQ.jsp

What does a music publisher do?

Music publishers control the copyrights for the underlying compositions of songs on behalf of the songwriters they represent. The music publisher plays an integral part in finding and developing talented songwriters, linking good songs to quality performers, and being a partner and advocate on behalf of songwriters as their careers grow. Some songwriters are self-published, and in that context they play both the role of songwriter and music publisher.

How can I contact a music publisher about publishing my work?

Please refer to the bibliography for reference books, like the 2009 Songwriters Market, for a list of music publishers.

What is a music copyright?

Copyright is ownership of exclusive rights granted to the creator of an original work of authorship, such as a song.

Why is copyright important to a songwriter?

Copyright ensures the creators of works – in this case, the writers of songs - can benefit from their labor, by giving them exclusive control over the distribution, reproduction and public performance of their work, among other rights.

What is fair use?

The most common defense to copyright infringement is fair use. The Copyright Act of 1976 incorporated the principle that some uses of protected works without permission from the owners of the copyright should be considered “fair use”. It is determined on a case-by-case basis, but the factors that are considered include: the nature of the work, whether the use is for commercial purposes, the amount of the portion used in relation to the work as a whole, and the effect of the use on the potential market value of the copyrighted work.

How do I find the publisher of a work?

Check with HFA, ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC via the internet.
www.harryfox.com
www.ascap.com
www.bmi.com
www.sesac.com

Should I register my work with the Copyright Office?

Copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright.  It is not a condition of copyright protection.  But the copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registrations, including the following:

• Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.

• Registration is necessary before an infringement suit may be filed in court.

• If registration is made before or within five years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.

• If registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions.  Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.

• Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U.S. customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies.


Please consult the Music Publishing 101, the Bibliography and/or the linked website section for references to material that can provide you with more detailed information.