Whenever I do a seminar on music law, I always start by explaining the differences in a song, a sound recording, and a phonorecord. To understand music law, it’s crucial not to confuse the three.
A song consists of a melody and any accompanying lyrics. The Copyright Act refers to songs as musical works. Typically, the copyright in a song is owned by the songwriter or by the songwriter's music publishing company.
A sound recording is the recorded rendition of a song. The copyright in a sound recording is typically owned by the record label that released the recording. Within the music industry, a sound recording is often referred to as a master.
Phonorecord, another term coined by the Copyright Act, is any material object onto which sound can be recorded such as an audiocassette, a compact disc or a vinyl record. Note that phonorecords contain audio only so motion pictures, home videos and other audiovisual productions are not phonorecords. When you obtain digital version of a phonorecord via the internet, the Copyright Act refers to the output as a digital phonorecord delivery or DPD.