Music, a universal language that transcends borders and cultures, holds a special place in the hearts of people worldwide. In Iraq, a country with an ancient musical heritage dating back thousands of years, the music industry continues to thrive, and talented Iraqi artists aim to make their mark on the global stage. To do this successfully, it’s essential for these artists to grasp the intricacies of music copyright laws. This comprehensive guide will provide artists with the knowledge they need to protect their creative works and navigate the complex landscape of music copyright in Iraq.

Understanding Music Copyright

Copyright is a form of protection granted to the creators of “original works of authorship,” including musical compositions and recordings. This protection extends to both the lyrics and the musical composition itself. In Iraq, copyright laws are primarily governed by Copyright Law No. 3 of 1971, with subsequent amendments to adapt to evolving technological and artistic landscapes.

As an artist, understanding the key components of music copyright is vital:


The initial copyright owner of a musical work is its creator. This applies to both the lyricist and the composer of the melody.

Exclusive Rights

Copyright endows the owner with exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, and adapt their work. This means that others cannot use your work without your permission.


Copyright protection in Iraq typically lasts for the lifetime of the creator plus 50 years after their death. For works with multiple authors, it extends for 50 years after the last surviving author’s death.

Registering Your Copyright

In Iraq,  copyright protection is automatic upon the creation of a work. This means that you don’t necessarily need to register your music with a government agency to enjoy copyright protection. However, registering your work can be beneficial as it provides a public record of your copyright and can simplify the process of proving ownership in case of a dispute.

To register your copyright in Iraq, you can apply to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities. This process typically involves submitting an application, a copy of the work, and other relevant information. The registration fee may vary, so it’s advisable to check with the ministry for the most up-to-date requirements.

Fair Use and Copyright Infringement

While copyright grants creators exclusive rights, there are exceptions, including the doctrine of “fair use.” Fair use allows for the limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright owner. In Iraq, fair use provisions are somewhat vague and do not specify the exact criteria for determining fair use. Courts typically consider factors such as the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount used, and the effect on the market value of the original work.

To avoid copyright infringement issues, artists and musicians should be cautious about using copyrighted material without proper authorization and should always seek legal advice when in doubt.

Music Licensing

Music licensing is a fundamental aspect of the music industry, allowing artists to grant permission for the use of their music while retaining control and often receiving compensation. Common types of music licenses in Iraq include:

Mechanical License

This license permits the reproduction and distribution of a musical composition. It is typically needed by record labels or artists who want to cover and release another artist’s song.

Performance License

This license allows the public performance of a musical composition. It is often required for concerts, music venues, and other live performances.

Synchronization License

This license permits the use of music in synchronization with visual media, such as films, TV shows, and commercials.

Master Use License

This license grants permission to use a specific recording of a song. It is typically required by filmmakers and advertisers who want to use a particular version of a song.

Public Performance Rights

These rights grant control over the public performance of a musical composition, including on the radio, in restaurants, and in other public places. These rights are often managed by performing rights organizations (PROs) like the Iraqi Authors and Composers Society.

Collecting Royalties

Artists and composers are entitled to royalties when their music is used in various ways, such as when their songs are played on the radio, streamed online, or performed live. In Iraq, collecting these royalties is often managed by performing rights organizations (PROs). The Iraqi Authors and Composers Society (IACS) is one such PRO responsible for collecting and distributing royalties to its members.

To ensure you receive the royalties you’re entitled to, you should become a member of IACS or any other relevant PRO in Iraq. It’s crucial to keep detailed records of your music’s use and performances to help PROs accurately calculate and distribute your earnings.

International Copyright Protection

In our globalized world, it’s essential for Iraqi artists to understand how their music is protected internationally. Iraq is a signatory to several international treaties and conventions related to copyright, including the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the WIPO Copyright Treaty. These agreements provide a degree of protection for your music in other countries.

However,  international copyright protection can be complex and may vary from country to country. It’s advisable to consult with legal experts or specialized international organizations, such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), for guidance on protecting your music abroad.

Challenges and Concerns for Iraqi Artists

While Iraq has made significant strides in protecting intellectual property and enforcing copyright laws, there are still challenges and concerns for artists in the country:


Copyright enforcement in Iraq can be inconsistent, and artists may encounter difficulties in protecting their rights. The legal system’s capacity to handle intellectual property disputes is an ongoing concern.


The proliferation of digital technology has made it easier for individuals and entities to distribute music without permission, leading to piracy concerns.

Lack of Awareness

Many artists in Iraq may not be fully aware of their rights and how to protect their work, making them vulnerable to exploitation.

Economic Challenges

The economic challenges facing Iraq can impact the music industry’s growth and the ability of artists to benefit from their creative works.

As the Iraqi music industry continues to evolve and gain recognition on the global stage, artists’ understanding and protection of their creative rights are essential steps toward a thriving and vibrant music ecosystem in Iraq. By respecting and upholding copyright laws, artists can contribute to the growth and sustainability of the industry while sharing their rich cultural heritage with the world.

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