It's imperative that every artist and producer starting out in the music industry should be educated on the topic of protecting their music from people who think they can take advantage of the new kid on the block. Over the years many people have asked me what exactly registering their music copyright will do for them and how to go about the actual process of registering their music.

When speaking about music, many people think that the term "copywriting" is process of registering their music with the government (U.S. Copyright Office). This is one big misconception. Creations of the mind such as inventions and artistic works; including music, are called “Intellectual Property”. Once that intellectual property or idea is expressed in either a tangible form (something that can be physically touched) or fixed form such as a recorded song, it is automatically copyrighted. Essentially, as soon as an idea is created, you automatically become the copyright holder.

So what exactly is a copyright?

In a nutshell, copyright is a law that gives you ownership over anything you create and also exclusively grants you several rights as the owner, including the right to:

  • Reproduce the work
  • Make derivative works (a work based on or derived from an existing work. Sampling music would be an example of this)
  • Distribute copies
  • Perform the work
  • Display the work publicly

What will registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright office do for you?

Registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office proves that you are the owner of a work and acknowledges the date of its creation. This matters because in the case that someone steals your music, also known as “Copyright Infringement”, you will be protected if a lawsuit does take place.

A copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the author. If the work is that of a corporate authorship (work for hire), 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first.

There are actually 2 copyright forms that should be registered:

  1. Form PA (Performance Arts copyright aka songwriting copyright) – Which will protect the lyrics and underlying musical composition or melody.
  2. Form SR (Sound Recording copyright)- Which will protect the actual recording of the song
  • If the copyright claimant is the same for both the sound recording and the underlying musical composition, then only one registration can be made for both by filling out Form SR (on Form SR, there will be a space where one can specify that the claim covers both works).

To register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright office go to Copyright.gov

  • It is $35 per application form filing (if done online) and $60 for paper filings
  • One can file one song or a collection of songs under one application for the same rate. The collection would be under one name, the “collection title”

I hope this helps and if anyone has any further questions please comment below or follow me on Instagram @KeyLoww

 

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