Founded in 1917, The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) is the national 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.

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.

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.

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.

There are multiple databases to search musical work ownership information. You can find them HERE.