Copyright Question

Discussion in 'Publishing / Marketing' started by dirtysouthstunta, Sep 19, 2004.

  1. What is the different between an SR Form and a PA Form?

    If I have copyrighted a song in the past, but planning on using it again on a newer album. Do I copyright the new album without that one song on there? Or leave it on there?

    What exactly does it mean to be a co-writer? Does this mean only for lyrics, or if one person makes the instrument lines, and another person makes the vocal lyric lines, are they both the co-writers?

    Thank You, and God Bless You All!
  2. Helicon1

    Helicon1 Guest

    You can learn the differences in the types of forms on the copyright website.

    If you are going to copyright your new album as a whole, you should include all the songs that are on it.

    Now the question that I really wanted to get to is about cowriting.

    A song has two halves - the words and the music.
    If you write all the words and someone else writes all the melody, you each own 50% of the song.
    If two other writers bring you a lyric that they co-wrote together and ask you to write the melody, you own 50% and they split the other 50%.
    If you write all the melody and co-write the lyrics with someone, you would be entitled to 75% and your co-writer should get 25%.

    When co-writing a song, if someone writes all the words and asks you to write the music for it, your only obligation as a co-writer is to write the MELODY. Anything you do other than writing the melody is above and beyond your obligation as a co-writer.

    The arranging, recording and your playing of instruments is NOT part of the co-writing deal. The only obligation you have under a normal co-write is to write either the MELODY or the LYRICS - that's it. The other things are over and above your obligation.

    That said, many times someone who writes the melody for the song also has the ability to play instruments, record, or both. Many times they will do that just as a courtesy, and to have a demo of the song. It is perfectly fine for someone to do this for free if they want to. But they don't HAVE to in order to meet their end of the bargain.

    If neither the melody writer or lyrics writer has the ability to play an instrument, or cannot record music, then both writers should pay 50% of the cost to make a demo of the song in a studio. Nobody will argue that point. So it is only fair for you to expect some sort of compensation for anything you do above and beyond writing the melody. Be reasonable, and realize that some lyric writers may view that as unfair. IT IS NOT UNFAIR. You are providing the service that the demo studio would provide.

    For those services, there are a number of ways to receive compensation. You could check on the going rate for demo services an let your co-writer pay half that amount to you (although it would be nice if you gave them a discount). They could either pay you directly on the spot or you could add an addendum to the co-writing contract that stated: If royalties are paid on the song in the future, you will recoup half the cost of the demo from the first proceeds. In other words, if Hank Jr. records your song and it starts making money, you get half the cost of the demo before the co-writer gets anything.

    The one thing you are not entitled to for these services you provide is a bigger share of the royalties. THAT would be unfair to your co-writer. There should only be a flat fee. If you were to get a bigger percentage, and a top artist recorded the song, 10 years down the road and 1,000,000 sales later, your co-writer would be out a lot of money that you really had no right to take just because you made a demo of the song.

    ALWAYS make a co-writing agreement in writing BEFORE co-writing.
    With no agreement you are just asking for trouble. Include all of the points I made above. Also include some sort of reversion clause.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    The SR forms are for the Sound Recording ... record companies use these to copyright records/ CDs. The PA form is for Performing Arts.. and is what publishers and writers use ... You normally have to include a lyric sheet and a lead sheet or a recording with the form. A writer may however use a SR form to copyright the song(s) if they wish. If the songs have never been registered previously, a SR form will cover all the inherent matierial within the recording ...

    I admit it has been a while since I registered a song but the last time I did, the form had a box that asks what the nature of the contribution of each person listed as a copyright claiment, was ...

    I always understood that who wrote what was not a criterea for how any funds were divided. 2 writers, 50% / 50% ... three writers, 33% each and so on ... and all it takes to be considered as a co writer is the contribution of one word or a small part of the music ... Recently, the rules have changed so that recording engineers and producers may also make a copyright claim on a song as well, under the SR provisions and the assumption that they have contributed "intellectual property" to the recording.
  4. Helicon1

    Helicon1 Guest

    Kurt, it depends on the situation.

    If you have a regular co-writer who consistently pulls his share of the weight, I would definitely opt for a 50/50 deal no matter who wrote what on a particular song.

    But if someone brings a half-written lyric to you and you finish the lyrics and write the melody you should get 75%.

    It is the way it is almost always done in situations like that, and it is the fairest way. Someone should not be given an equal share in a song that they contributed one phrase to. That would be like a producer giving half of his royalties from an album to his assistant because his assistant gave an opinion on one song.

    Regardless of how you choose to divvy up the royalties, get it in writing before proceeding.
  5. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    The standard split between 2 co-writers is 50/50 unless otherwise specified. If you just put the two names down it will be 50/50 by default
  6. Helicon1

    Helicon1 Guest

    Sure will. That's why you have to make sure you put everything in the contract. And not just the money issues either.

    If you don't specify who has certain administration rights to the song, each co-writer has ALL the rights. Each one can pitch the song, give licenses for the use of the song - just like he was the sole owner of the copyright. (as long as the co-writers are compensated for any use that pays money.)
  7. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    Correct- they can do whatever with the song as long as the co-writer gets paid-
  8. okay, here's my situation....

    I am about to start selling a new album with 10 songs. On one of the songs, which happens to be the first single I'm going to push, I have another artist that sings with me. He is asking for some rights to this song. Of course he wants to set it up to where he gets part of the royalties off of this song. How does all of this work. I don't want to get screwed out of a song that I did 90% of the work on if this song blasts off and brings in a lot of royalties. Also, how does that work with CD sells.... If I sell CD's how much would my featured artist get if he's only on that "one" song? Do I need to be using a SR Form, or a PA Form, both? Are the division of royalties supposed to be documented on these forms, or do we have to make a contract for this?

    Thank you and God Bless You!
  9. maintiger

    maintiger Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Whittier, California, USA
    The songwriter only gets the royalty rate- which I believe is at 8 1/2 cents a song per Cds sold. What percentage the artist gets is another question which is best settled in a contract between the record company and the artist. If you are the record company, I suggest you draw up a contact before money is involved- the bigger the money, the bigger the problem. No one ever sues anyone if the thing is a dud and makes no money...
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