This is something that seems to crop up a lot. With some broadcasters, there is an assumption that everything has to be added to the cue sheet. While this is true for music that is registered with royalty collection societies the same can’t be applied to sound effects due to the very nature of their composition.
So, we get asked: Do I have to submit cue sheets for sound effects?
The short answer is no, not unless it contains music. This is the reason…
With music, royalty collection societies are collecting performance royalties because somebody has the copyright in the composition and they have subsequently registered it with them. They then collect the royalties via the very old cue sheet method. When that composition is ‘performed’ and is registered with a Performance Royalty Organisation (PRO) i.e. played live, or the recording is played, the owner of the copyright is due a royalty.
However, if there is no copyright in the content of the performance then no royalty can be collected. This is the case with sound effects, there is no copyright in the sound itself as there is not really a composition. For example, recording the cork popping on your wine cannot be copyrighted as a composition, although it might be a performance you take part in frequently 🙂
You cannot own the sound of a wine cork but you can own the copyright of your recording of a wine cork, therefore, a license will be used to use the recording of your sound effect, but no royalty can be claimed for playing it or performing it in public and for this reason sound effects do not need to be added to cue sheets.