LEGAL POSITION REGARDING USE OF PSEUDONYMS BY MUSICIANS
According to the Turkish Law, surname of the father of a liveborn person is recorded in the father's registry in the vital records office with a forename, and a birth certificate is issued in his/her name. These names, which are also called “Real name” or “official name”, are the names given to a person by his/her family and registered by the State. A person may not choose his/her name, because the age of majority is 18 according to our law.
Human is a multi-dimensional entity. S/he has various identities in family, friends, professional, etc. circles. We frequently witness that these circles call a person with different names or s/he introduces himself/herself with another name. Use of names by individuals other than their real names given at birth such as middle names, nicknames, pseudonyms, and aliases, is the consequence of a need.
Among these names, pseudonyms are frequently used by artists, primarily musicians. Musicians feel the need to give with their free will a name to the artistic identity they have created. This is actually a natural consequence of their creative character.
Sometimes, the names of musicians may contradict with the music they perform and the artistic identities they have created, or they may be hard to pronounce. The name of a musician serving as a brand which promotes the artistic activity s/he performs is another reason causing the musicians to use pseudonyms.
As seen frequently in previous periods, such names are chosen among the words that further strengthens the specialty of that musician. For example, Tatlıses, Gürses, Şenses, etc.
Today, we see that the musicians who use pseudonyms handle the naming issue more thoroughly, and prefer words that better express their own and artistic personalities. For example, Mercan Dede, Can Gox, etc.
It is known that pseudonyms are also widely used by foreign musicians.
I believe that it is not a correct effort for a person to try to represent oneself with a name consisting of words that mostly do not portray his/her personality and in the selection of which s/he had no role, and I recommend the young musicians to use a pseudonym that suits their identity.
When we look at the legal aspect of the issue, there is no legal regulation regarding pseudonyms in the Turkish Civil Code and Civil Registration Laws, which include legal concepts such as population, name surname, identity, etc.
In our law, Article 11 of the Law on Intellectual and Artistic Works governs the pseudonyms. According to this regulation, the musicians may use pseudonyms. There is legal procedure in our laws for notification or registration of the selected pseudonym to/with an authority. Lack of a procedure such as registration of a pseudonym does not mean that it is not legally protected. A “pseudonym” is also an integral part of an identity like a “real name”. For this reason, a pseudonym benefits from all legal remedies applicable for protection of a real name. Musicians are free to select and use pseudonyms without registering them with any authority. However, it will be helpful for musicians in terms of proof to put down their pseudonym next to their real name in the copyright agreements they sign, and to keep the products such as the albums released under their pseudonym, and the printed or digital data related to the promotion of activities such as concerts. These data will provide ease of proof in case of personal right violations against them on their pseudonym or in the legal proceedings against wrongful use of their pseudonym.
Of course, it is a more effective way of protection for the musicians, who perform under a pseudonym in the music market, to register their pseudonym as a trademark with the Turkish Patent Institute.