Drum beats - are they covered by copyright?


Platinum Member
The inherent problem with copying a signature beat isn't a legality, it's that other drummers in particular may know that you copied someone else's beat.

Sure there are standard beats and variations that most drummers do, but there are signature - and readily recognizable - beats that are forever attributed to the likes of Bonham, Ringo, et al.

It also makes you a bit un-creative and douchey, but that's just my opinion. In the same way that I can come up with a hundred altered or different beats for say something iconic like fool in the rain, anyone else with a brain shouldn't need to "steal" someone else's beat either. Sometimes I get the feeling that folks think there is always a "perfect" beat for each song...


Platinum Member
What about handclaps in popular music?

Seems like the writers of Rose Royce's "Car Wash" should be receiving some form of compensation. Every major league baseball team uses the opening handclap sequence from the song to rile up the fans at games.


New member
Not anymore. Now Katy Perry has been sued for a drum beat. It's about ridiculous that drum beats can now be copyrighted like that. Honestly. There are only so many combinations. Eventually, there will be no more beats to make cause they are all made and copyrighted. Jeez. Now beats too. So we now have the headache of making sure beats are not copyrighted? What a joke.


Gold Member
Anyone remember when Gene $immons tried to copyright these? 🤘🤘
Wouldn't surprise me if he tried to copyright a few KISS beats too!


Platinum Member
Isn't a patent applied to something technological and a copyright to protect a original work-which could be an idea, song, movie script, etc.? But is art copyrighted-some has been like Campbell soup can, etc-which I guess is a trademark. Now drummers have "trademark" fills and what not but that isn't a legal trademark. Damn now I'm confused. Can a comedian copyright a joke-no I'm not kidding LOL. Would it be a trademark joke or if like Steve Martin's arrow in the head-a patent since it's technology. I guess if you played it on an electric drum kit then it would be a patent? on Acoustic a copyright-and if people identify you with it-a trademark?????


Platinum Member
Only the lyrics and melody are copyrighted and if I'm right there has to be more than a certain amount to class as breach of copyright, hence how all these talentless artists get away with sampling other peoples hard work.

Major bummer is riffs aren't copyrighted either, I saw an interview with Andy Summers re Every Breathe You Take, he only gets accompanyment royalties despite writing the hook purely because Mr Summers wrote the lyrics.


Senior Member
Are patent and copyright the same thing? Can I patent a drum beat?
No, they are not the same thing.

In essence, copyright protects the expression of a literary, artistic, dramatic or musical idea.

Patent protects an invention or an improvement on an invention.

Further, trademark protects what is commonly known as an owner's "brand".

There are other intellectual property (IP) rights out there as well, such as industrial design.

Each IP right is different from the others, with different ways in which they arise, are maintained and can expire.

Interestingly, something can possess more than one IP right at the same time, which is also sometimes referred to as a "bundle" of rights".

To answer your second questions, no, you can not patent a drum beat as it is not an invention in the legal sense (much like you can't patent a recipe as another example).