Copyright in music compilations and playlists
Produced in partnership with Wiggin LLP
Copyright in music compilations and playlists

The following TMT guidance note Produced in partnership with Wiggin LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Copyright in music compilations and playlists
  • Categorisation of copyright works
  • Copyright in databases
  • Sui generis database rights
  • The Directive
  • Concept of the author’s own intellectual creation
  • Playlists and the own intellectual creation test—Ministry of Sound v Spotify

This Practice Note examines whether copyright can subsist in music compilations as a database. In essence, the question is whether a music compilation is an original copyright work as a copyright database because the selection and/or arrangement of its contents constitutes its author’s own intellectual creation.

Categorisation of copyright works

Copyright is the exclusive right to do, and authorise others to do, certain acts in relation to copyright works. Copyright works have been formally categorised, in the UK, in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988) providing clarity about the various categories of works.

CDPA 1988 provides that copyright subsists in the following descriptions of traditional' copyright work:

  1. original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works

  2. sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programmes, and

  3. the typographical arrangement of published editions

Once a work falls into one of the above categories, it must be recorded in some manner and be original to enjoy the benefit of protection. The term ‘original’ is not defined by CDPA 1988.

Copyright in databases

A database may qualify for copyright protection under CDPA 1988 as an original literary work. The sui generis database right is not relevant in this context (see below).

A 'database' is defined as a collection of independent works, data or other materials which:

  1. are arranged in a systematic or methodical way, and