How to establish copyright for the songs that you write - The Music Page Plus

How to establish copyright for the songs that you write

Copyright is a form of owning your work and it is applicable to forms of creative work as well, including music. This is a legal right created by the law by granting the creator the rights to use and distribute any original work and if you use someone’s music without their consent, you’ll be committing music plagiarism.

Plagiarism in music is quite common as it can also be using or imitating someone’s music and representing it as your own. If you would like to use another person’s work, you’ll need a music license to use it, which will make sure that the song owner is compensated for their music.

Registering your music for copyright can either be done online or by mail. When registering your copyright online, the first thing  you’ll need to do is to make a copy of your song on a CD, mini-disc, mp3, LP, record it on video, USB drive, or write out the sheet music. Once you’ve done that, go to your country’s copyright website and click on the electronic copyright office.

You’ll need to register for a free account by creating a new user account and providing your name and address, as well as other  details about your work and your address that you would like your copyright certificate to be sent to. This is the account you’ll use each time you want to make a copyright application, which makes it quite useful to monitor them.

Once you complete the online copyright application, you’ll submit it by hitting ‘register a new claim’. It is under the copyright services section located on the left side column of your account.  You then follow up by making a payment through your debit card, copyright office deposit account, or through electronic check. You’ll then be required to upload a copy of your work which should be in electronic form. Make sure you send your work in a format that is compatible with the copyright office.

Wait for your application to be processed the duration of which will be provided by the institution responsible for registration. By registering online the copyright application process is much shorter.  Once completed, you can log in to check your status anytime you want.

If you plan to register your song by mail, you should know that this option takes longer. Get a form from the copyright website by simply downloading it or requesting the office to send it to you. Form SR is used to register copyright for sound recordings while form PA is used for performing arts recording because it covers recordings of live performances. Form CO is used for any type of sound recording and it is also used for performing arts recordings. Determine which form suits your work by looking for the one that matches your category or line of work.

Read the instructions carefully and fill  out the form appropriately. If there is something you do not understand, then contact the copyright office for answers. Take the completed form, the specified payment, and the copy of your work and place them nicely in a package. Send the package to the copyright office address through mail and wait for the certificate of registration which will be sent through snail mail.

In general, when you begin the copyright registration use form SR for registration of published and unpublished sound recordings as well as to register sounds and recorded performance.  You can also register underlying work using this form. The PA form is used to register musical compositions and dramatic works which should be recorded on discs or cassettes.

There are costs associated with each application depending on what type of registration you are making.  The best thing about copyright is that you can submit multiple songs in one application and the fee charged will only be applicable for one application.

There is something known as the “poor man’s copyright” which really should be avoided. This is when you physically send a recording of your song to yourself through the mail and keep it sealed. Some artists put their work on YouTube or on other stamped social media but this is not the best way to copywright your work as it can be stolen. The idea is of this kind of copyrighting is to have your music dated, which is done automatically when uploading online or through the mail service.

It’s important to understand that not every aspect of your song will have a copyright. The copyright office does not sit and listen to your song word by word. Some characteristics of your song such as chord progressions, the overall idea, and the title as well as short phrases may not be covered. Nevertheless, you are guaranteed that melodies and the lyrics are well covered.

Copyrighting your work is important because your rights and remedies become limited and by protecting yourself, you are also able to sue someone who has infringed upon your work. If you find out that someone is playing a song you composed without your permission, then you are eligible to sue that person, which you can only do if you put in the effort to copyright your work.

If you happen to win the case against someone who has infringed upon your work, then you receive statutory damages and attorney’s fees. Copyrighting your work will also state the date that you created the music, which can be very useful in court if someone claims to have created the work before you.

You can give up your copyright for a great deal of money. Many songwriters give up their copyright to performing artists and they are compensated with a huge amount of money. Songwriters sign their copyright away when they are offered a good deal and they often get a hefty portion of the royalties compared to the publisher. If you are dealing with a reputable music publisher, you do not have to worry about any fraud.

Music copyrighting is very important for songwriters and composers. Every songwriter and individual in the music industry should copyright their work to protect themselves from loosing the music that they worked so hard on.


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