majority of people are honest and law-abiding, but there is a nasty
minority who will steal anything that isn't nailed down, and find
a crowbar for the things that are. After putting all that hard work
into writing your song, I recommend that you play it safe, protecting
your song in every possible way.
first precaution: never show your songs to anyone without having "the
Copyright Notice" on it. The most often used form of Copyright
or write this "notice" on every word-sheet, lead sheet, tape,
CD, etc., you hand out. It makes people think twice before attempting
to steal it, and offers some legal protection if they do.
may legally use this notice as soon as the song is finished being "affixed
to something tangible", that is, you can see it or hear it. Contrary
to popular belief, the song is actually considered "Copyrighted" right at that point, even before registering it with the "Library
you should also "Register it" in Washington, D.C. One reason
is, if for some reason you have to prove your ownership in court, you'll
have a recorded date and Copyright Number.
second reason is, songs are often Copyrighted twice or more, first by
the Songwriter, and then by a Music Publisher, etc... That Publisher will
give you an "Assignment of Copyright" form to fill out where
you must include your copyright registration number. If you never registered
it, you can't produce the number...
you're on the Web, and you should be if you want to keep up with what's
happening in the Biz, the Copyright Office Website's Web Address is:
NOTE: The Copyright Office now has available On-Line Registration, which
they recommend you use! You can upload songs and pay right on the site
[it temporarily takes you away to another government site - but you end
up back on the copyright site after you pay.] The price for registering
electronically is $55.The
main advantages are it's cheaper than mailing, and you'll receive the
registrations back way faster. Also, when you first go on it will ask
you to fill out a username, password "sheet", so that...
You can save them at any step and come back to the one[s] you're working
on at another time.
When you are finished one, save it as a template, so you don't have
to start from scratch the next time...
To protect the Song, choose "Performing Arts" in the drop down menu when 1st filling out the form.
To protect the Recording, choose "Sound Recording".
may save money by registering several songs at once, and calling them
a "Collection." That is, one "form" covering several
songs, instead of only one song per form. The price is then $65 [$35
as a collection may sound like a good idea, but it may cause problems
later on. A possible hazard is that you may decide to give one song
from a collection to one Publisher and another to someone else - but
both songs have the same registration number!
What I usually recommend to people, that they register the SONG Copyrights separately ["Performing Arts"]. UNLESS, it's something like Thrash or Rap. Now the RECORDING Copyrights, ["Sound Recording"] you can do as a Collection. Like it says above, you risk the situation where someone or some Company wants 1 Song or Recording - and the Registration Number is the same with the other Songs and/or Recordings...
people believe it is simpler and cheaper, and offers sufficient protection,
to mail a finished copy of the song to themselves using the postmark
date as evidence of date of authorship, and leaving the envelope unopened
until proof is required in the event of a legal contest. Others may use different methods, but no method other than proper registration
can be counted on when you need real proof of ownership - that Registration Number. Why take
other important pieces of information you should keep in mind:
You cannot copyright the title of a song, the name of a Group, short
phrases, etc. [You "Register/Trademark" them].
Whoever's name is listed on the Copyright Form under "Copyright
Claimant" is the Owner of the song and basically has the
right to do with the song as they please, or as described in the "Songwriter's Agreement"
you have any further questions, you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you may call the Copyright Office
at  707-3000. You will find the people very helpful.
You are welcome to post this article on any website, ezine,
or in any print magazine, if you include a link directed to
with writer's credit and copyright notice...
"Our aim is to help guide you, protect you,
and to answer any and all of your questions regarding
the Creative, Business and Legal sides of the Music Business,
in plain, easy-to-understand "People-Talk".
No matter what style of Music, no matter what you do, no matter what stage of your career - we're here for you!
Let us help you save wasted time and money.."
David J. Spangenberg
Music Business Consultant,
Educator & Advisor
You May E-mail David at: Pooch@professorpooch.com