Copyright is the exclusive right to make copies and license your music and you are granted such a right by law on or after January 1, 1978, you are protected for your lifetime and for a period of 50 years after his or her death in the US and in Britain, usually 70 years.
What Does Copyright Registration Do for Me?
Well, if someone does steal your work, not only can you prove the work is yours by your registration, but you can also sue for damages (you can’t legally sue for damages if your song isn’t registered with the copyright office). If the copyright infringement is determined to be deliberate, your attorney can initiate a formal criminal investigation.
Registering your songs’ copyright grants you these exclusive rights:
• The right to display your music publicly
• The right to duplicate your CD’s
• The right to prepare alternate versions, new arrangements and Remixes
• The right to distribute your music digitally and physically
• The right to perform your songs publicly
• The right to Licenses your music
OK Probably the most certified method to copyright your song is always to register your copyright with the US copyright office. They now provide a way to file an application online which is easier and faster to use. Here is a direct link to register your copyright with the US government’s electronic copyright office (ECO) Forms LINK. You will have to create an account and then fill out the proper online form to register your work. Additionally, you will have to provide a filing fee and upload a copy of your song(s) to their server. The fee is around $35 regardless if you are copyrighting one song or a bunch of songs, this makes it cheaper to copyright a group of songs simultaneously for the same fee
Form SR is for registration of published or unpublished sound recordings. It should be used when the copyright claim is limited to the sound recording itself and it may also be used where the same copyright claimant is seeking simultaneous registration of the underlying musical, dramatic, or literary work embodied in the phonorecord. With one exception, “sound recordings” are works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds. The exception is for the audio portions of audiovisual works, such as a motion picture soundtrack or an audio cassette accompanying a filmstrip. These are considered a part of the audiovisual work as a whole.
Form PA is for registration of published or unpublished works of the performing arts. This class includes works prepared for the purpose of being “performed” directly before an audience or indirectly “by means of any device or process.” Works of the performing arts include: (1) musical works, including any accompanying words; (2) dramatic works, including any accompanying music; (3) pantomimes and choreographic works; and (4) motion pictures and other audiovisual works.
In case you rather mail in a hard copy of your work, you can also copyright your songs by utilizing Form CO from the US Copyright office. A link to form CO can be found below in the resources section. The filing fee with this method is around $50 and you will then need to have a hard copy of your work burned to a disk to send in with your form CO. I prefer this one when I have one song and you can’t register multiple songs with this form. They also have great instruction on how to fill out this form.
Be sure to obtain the proper form, which can be downloaded from the website or delivered by mail by contacting the Copyright Office and requesting the forms to be sent to you. The form for a sound recording to copyright is the Form SR. The form for Performing Arts, such as that which people listen to on the radio, from CDs to live music, is the Form PA or Short Form PA. However, Form CO replaces these forms, along with other forms, so you can choose to simply use Form CO.
If you aren’t willing to pay a registration fee, you can use a free online service to copyright your songs. One such site is called myfreecopyright.com there are many others. You can upload a copy of your song to their server, and they will send you a dated email that you can use as a unique id verifying ownership and copyright. The downside to this is that your public record may be voided if the website ever goes out of business.
Once your song is registered, you no longer have to worry about someone stealing your song idea and taking credit for it. If someone does that, and it becomes a hit song and you can prove the song is yours with your registered copyright, you are going to run all the way to the bank when the court awards you damages, which can be very very Large for copyright theft.
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