There have been a few discussions on this, but wanted to clarify the general opinion.

When I look at a CD, on the back cover I will usually see a (p) and (c), which applies it to the whole CD, unless otherwise broken down, which it sometimes is. This would tell me that the (p) and (c) should be assigned to the release in MB.

I also get CDs where there is a (p) and (c) on the back, then inside a (p) and sometimes (c) on each recording, like in the case of a comp release. In this case, it would imply to me that the back cover ones go on the release, and the inside ones go on the recordings.

I also recall being told that the (p) should really go on the recording, not the release.

Could others provide some clarification on the topic?

I haven’t been told before, but I usually put the ℗ on the release, especially in the case where the release says “This compilation ℗…”. at worst, someone can come along later and move it to the recordings, and it’d still probably be right

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The first thing to remember is that every country has its own copyright laws and details can differ significantly.

Copyright law in the US and some other countries have a distinct “phonographic copyright” ℗ which is a separate copyright for sound recordings that is distinct from the © copyright which applies to any creative work (such as the compositions, lyrics, package design, etc.).

If there is sufficient detail printed to identify which recordings are subject to what phonographic copyright notices then go ahead and add it at the recording level.

Regarding a distinct copyright on a compilation as a whole, the US copyright office has this to say: “The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work.” In most cases the new material in a compilation is not any new sound recordings so ℗ seems inappropriate to me, but I am not a lawyer…

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I think I recall you sharing / stating that in another thread, thanks for making sure it is known. I guess for me, I care more about how MB wants it done vs what is technically correct. I see this done both ways, and I believe in general that it is better to have things consistently wrong vs large variation.

I will state that in the idea that we document what the release says… if the release has a (c) and a (p) on the back label, not specific to recordings, it would be on the release, as that is what the release shows. If inside there is a (p) or (c) on a recording, it should go on the recording. Honestly for hope I use the data, as long as I see label that holds the (p) or (c) that is all I need, are are often the same. But I know that the rest of that data is important to others, so I am making sure to add it.

(p) is for the sound and can be applied to both recordings & releases. I’d only add to recordings if it’s on a studio release by the artist and it’s not conflicting with a prior date that might be from a single that was released before it was included on the album. On compilations only add the (p) on the release level unless each track has it’s own, but that’d be more obvious. (c) can only be added to releases. You should add (p) to releases as it helps further identify the specific release that you are adding sometimes. But only add it if it’s listed as a (p) for the whole release (only shown once).


Are you stating this in terms of MB guidelines or opinion? I believe you are stating your opinion, but it sounds like guideline, so I wish not to misinterpret your words.

I do not wish to debate copyright law, only how MB wants it entered. There is more to copyrights and MB cannot really be expected to represent it properly. This even gets into what seem to be simple things, like whether or not a remaster makes a new copyright claim. Generally no, but maybe yes… not something I want to debate, but just use what I am shown and told.

I am doing my best on the following, so if I make a mistake, please point it out. I am trying also to keep the statement as general as possible, avoiding the numerous points of possible exceptions.

A release has three different copyrights that apply to my understanding (I am in the US). Generally speaking …Two copyrights in music 1) the sound recording, form SR (record label or artist driven) and 2) the musical composition including the lyrics, form PA (publisher driven)… using only form SR if the registration detail is the same for both. The third copyright for the CD packaging and artwork. Holders on the (p) will also want to include the (c) if the lyrics are printed, and I am sure there is far more than this simplified piece.

The only place I question in your reply is the relevance of placing (p) copyrights on recordings. Each and every specified (p) copyright has a purpose and value, however, MB may not be designed to differentiate, so I cannot really say. While I am not sure I agree that a (c) copyright can only be placed on a release, for MB I see this as good practice. However, I do not believe there is anything preventing an artist from doing so, although I am not sure it is needed in most cases. Not really my decision to make.

It’s not so much MB guidelines that I’m aware, but just how it’s been done by most editors I’ve seen adding them and how I’ve added them. MB doesn’t even allow you to place a (c) on a recording. I’m not sure what you mean about the (p). If each track has it on the release than add it to the recordings. If they only list 1 (p) than add it to the release. It maybe safe to add them to the recordings, except for compilations. The language usually states “This compilation (P)” or similar language to differentiate from studio releases or live releases (forgot to mention that earlier) that might have them.

Ok, I see what you are saying yes. A comp release (p) is generally for the release itself, not the recordings. So for a comp, the (p) for the release should not go on the recordings here.

I seem to recall that as well. Thus why I want to discuss MB guideline only vs copyright law. If MB does not want it there, that is what we do.

So I understand this:

  1. (c) is added to the release only, it cannot be added to a recording anyway.
  2. For a normal artist release, the (p) is applied to both the recordings and the release, as a release being a collection of recordings is qualified for (p) protections. As the recordings are assumingly artist originals, they get a (p) copyright that is shown on the artwork… except in such cases where some of the recordings were published at different years, we then use the appropriate date to the respective recordings.
  3. For a Comp release, both the (c) and (p) are release only, as the comp by its own definition does not create any new recordings.
  4. Recordings that are of different mixes, masters, etc, we simply add per the above guide as it is told to us on the release. This does enter the issue of different recordings for such things, but that is a different topic as currently MB does not consider this.

Does the above seem correct?


Related threads:

Personally I’m wary of adding copyright related relationships in the first place as they can change:


Is this a change, or is it an addition? By change I assume you mean that one replaces the other. Meaning, for example, both a “label” and a publisher can be assigned (p). And as years pass, there can be more additions, but does that negate the prior?

I also see that one link is for stream and one for download. I cannot be sure, but could this be indicating different rights on the stream vs digital download file? I believe (I could be wrong) that such a thing can qualify for an additional (p) claim.

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The links you provided are for sure useful. I know this has been discussed in the past and you have provided some good references.

My intent in this thread is to derive some sort of guideline that can be stated clearly. Something like the 4 bullet points I posted above, in format, not content as my words may not be correct. I understand it is never that simple, however, I believe it is possible to generate a general guide that will help for the majority of releases. I also have no personal knowledge of such things in other countries, so that is a part that I am not aware of how to address.

From my understanding the copyrights are in a similar boat as the ISRC. It is heavily tied to money - the who gets by who and for what. With that, I can understand, as some have stated in the ISRC discussions, that they have no interest in them. From my side of things, this is of interest to me, although I do not use it for the tracking of money. As I have stated prior, I have a great deal of interest in the mastering process and personally consider them different, one master to another.

While the courts in the US have recently made a more firm statement on this, the (p) information can assist in identifying specific masters of a recording. For this to work though, it needs to be tracked in the data being used as reference. Say I have a CD (p) and (c) by ABC. Later, there is another release, of the same, but with (p) and (c) by XYZ. I assume that most would consider these two releases to contain the same recordings. As MB does not distinguish further into the recording, this makes sense. However, a new (p) copyright can be issued if there are differences that MB does not track.

Using words that are not mine:

The first right held by copyright owners is to reproduce the copyrighted work via printing CDs or vinyl, and make the work publicly available via streaming services. Technically, every time a listener presses play on a specific song on a streaming service, they are triggering a reproduction of the sound recording (aka the master) AND the underlying musical work (the composition).

So, streaming services must have licenses from copyright owners to reproduce any songs in their catalog. Master copyright owners receive compensation via streaming payouts, while composition owners receive mechanical royalties.

While that statement centers on streaming, the concept is the same in the sense that you can hit play on a CD, digital file or a streaming service all the same. But I hope it shows how a different vendor can be differentiated by such things.

I hope I explain enough why my interest in the topic and how I do and intend to use the information.

I don’t think it’s a problem to have multiple phonographic copyrights added to the recordings, or like your example, multiple copyrights added to the same download releases (not physical releases).

It’s like when publishers are added to works. You can have at least one additional (sub or not) publisher with each country.

As @thwaller says, I see these cases as an additional information.


I found this article interesting, and at least to me helpful.


I second this~ one of the artists I’ve done a lot of work on were sold the rights to all their music when the label that owned it shut down, so now most of their tracks have two phonographic copyrights.