How to copyright music

Discussion in 'Publishing / Marketing' started by infamis, Jul 30, 2002.

  1. infamis

    infamis Guest

    If I produce an instrumental, how does copyrighting go? Cause I have about 60 instrumentals that I've made, and lots of times I have friends who want a CD with them on there. How do I copyright it? Is it as simple as placing the (c) on the cd or something?
  2. BrockStapper

    BrockStapper Guest

    There are several ways that you go about it depending on what your ambitions are. You can copyright the recorded work and/or the individual pieces. Usually you would copyright both the recorded work and the musical piece itself. You could copyright all of the musical pieces together as a work. However this limits your ability to market individual songs. For instance, you copyright the collection of songs and someone would like to buy the rights to one of those pieces. You now have to do some legal wrangling to break that one tune away from the collection. If at all possible I suggest you copyright each individual piece. Be advised that the two different types of copyrights mentioned above are just that, two different types of copyright. Both are important and require seperate forms.
    Hope this helps start some gears...
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    The Library of Congress has the forms. They are available on line. You can make a sound recording of the song and copyright it with a SR form. Just fill out the form and send it in with a CDR . 15 or 20 bucks I think. It's pretty easy. Fats
  4. infamis

    infamis Guest

    Thanks for the responses.

    I've did some browsing on the lib. of congresses' site on copyrighting and I think I have specific questions on what I should do:

    If I have the instrumental, and my cousin, who's starting his own independent record label, wants to use my beats [all 60 or so of them]. Should I copyright my 60-something songs as an unpublished collection with form SR with my name on there as author/claimant with no mention of my cousin or his record label, then let him use the beat? then final song will then be copywritten. cause I'd rather just have my name on there than his record label as the claimant of the copyright.

    or what should I do? or what is the way it's usually done for say some of the more none producers like timbaland/dr.dre/jermaine dupri?

    also is it possible to say copyright my 60 songs as an unpublished collection, then say I make 5 more songs, but I want them to also be copywritten, without going through the whole process of copyright registration - in other words, if I say those 5 extra I made after I'd registered the collection, but are part of the collection, does that work?

    thanks a lot [oh yea I'm a minor now(17) turning 18 in october,but dont expect to have anything registered before that time]
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    I think I see where your going on this one. 60 beats x $30 each is a lot of cash. I guess the best way to do this would be to use a SR form and record the beats as if you were putting an album / CD together. SR forms are intended for sound recording registration. They are what a record companys use to regester albums / CDs prior to release. If any of the songs on a given project are not previously copyrighted it will cover them. You will have to list each beat seperatly on the forms. This is going to be a lot of paperwork. I don't know if the Copyright office will accecpt it this way but you could give it a try. You might try assembeling some of the beats together forming several songs instead of 60 songs on the collection. That will probably fly better. Send the CD and paper work in, calling it a collection of work by infamis 2002, along with the aforementioned $30. If the Copyright Office refuses to deal with it in this way you may have to break the project up in smaller pieces until they accept it.
    Good luck, Fats
  6. infamis

    infamis Guest

    One thing I forgot to mention was that before I started realizing how important copyrighting works is, I would just give away CDs with my instrumentals on there without any compensation, etc.

    but nothing I've gave to people, I've never said "You can have this and keep it as yours".

    If I copyright my stuff that I've already given to people now, am I protected still? thanks
  7. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    Yes. Unless one of the people you gave beats / songs to copyrighted the matierial. Copyrighting is a process of regestering like a mining claim. Whoever claims the copyright first, owns it. Fats
  8. the word copyright doesn"t mean too much.
    its just a "c"
    its not who wrote the song first --its who has the best lawyers in town.
    you will be suprised how meny songs were "taken "from someone and were "written" later.
    if you want to copyroght your stuff in a cheep way its to do this take you music record it on a cdr or a cassete and if there are words write them on a peice of paper.write down the date of the written stuff.put in in an envelope and send it regesterd mail to your house address.
    when you recieve it dont open it until one day you"ll need it.
    the envelope has the date it was sent to you and taken by you .
    its cheep and efficent.
    also this copy right thing its like a life -it dies after 70 years after the person dies.

    good luck
    lawyers make money from us
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    Wrong, Wrong, Wrong,... That is so wrong! (How wrong is it?) It's so wrong that when they put the word WRONG in the dictionary, they used that statement as an example of WRONG! Copyright is a registration process. As I said previously, it is like a mining claim. It doesn't matter who can prove what as to who had the material first. What matters is who REGISTERED it first. Go to the copyright pages at the Library of Congress.

    United States Copyright Office
    The United States Copyright Office Web site.

    All of this is explained. Maor, sorry but that is just wrong. When you mail something to yourself all you have is a piece of mail. If what you were saying was true, no one would ever need to copyright anything. All the record companies would simply mail a cassette or CD to themselves and that would be that. Why do you think this all goes on? Maybe in Israel (I doubt it) but not in the U.S. .... Fats
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  10. curvedspace

    curvedspace Guest

    Here's an interesting link:

    "Why register a copyright?

    Your work is automatically protected under U.S. copyright law from the moment of its creation. Thus filing a copyright is not generally mandatory. However, filing does offer certain legal benefits, and it is required in order to file suit for infringement."

    Copyright Clearance Center
  11. largemarge

    largemarge Guest

    Maor is not entirely wrong:
    The following is from the US Copyright offices FAQ site.

    Do I have to register with your office to be protected?

    No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, section Copyright Registration.

    Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?

    Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, section Copyright Registration and Circular 38b on non-U.S. works.

    Also, if you feel that someone wrongfully registered a copyright that belongs to you, I believe there are proceedings within the Copyright Office to Petition for the Cancellation of a Copyright and to sue in civil court for damages, notwithstanding that someone else "registered" first.
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    Maor is wrong. Taking a piece and mailing it to yourself is of no value. All you have is a piece of mail. It has absolutely no standing in a court of law. If you want to claim copyright you don't have to register, but if you want to take action against anyone who might infringe on your claim then it must be registered. Once again, why is this process in place? It is not an exercise. It’s there for a reason. To protect your creative and intellectual property. If you want to take your chances just to save $20, go ahead! Fats
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  13. hello to all.
    i am very happy my name comes up alot(there is no such thing as bad publicity)

    regaurding if i am wrong or right.
    thats i big issue.
    the thing is this -if i mail my self a letter and not open the letter.
    that means -whats the envilope has whould be what we call excibit A
    and it has its place in a case of trials.
    just to let you this trick is practiced worldwide
    and its also used for patent regestering before submited.
    remember that law is not always by the book
    sometimes its by the crook.
    and "lawer" are somtimes liers
    also you can read in some music buisness guide the same thing.

    i am interested to see if there are more people that dont agree and do agree with me.
  14. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    I will say this again for the third time. It doesn't matter who writes the song. What matters is who registers it first. It' s simple. What is so hard to understand about that? The courts don't care who finds gold, they care who registers the claim first. Copyright is the same thing. History is full of cases of old blues cats who got ripped off by the record companies because they didn't have any copyright on their material. Some of them even tried to send it to themselves with no avail. The only situation this would be of any use would be one where no one copyrighted the material and then there was a dispute. In that case scenario, a letter to yourself would be of some value. But if someone else copyrights something of yours before you do, you have to go through a long drawn out process to disprove their claim. Talk about lawyers making all the money! It is just so much easier to register your work at the first opportunity. It makes no difference to me if you believe this or not. I copyright all my stuff. I copyright mix's I do for other clients, because I have a claim of intellectual property on those also. I keep asking this but you don't address it. "Why is there a copyright process, if it is so unnecessary?" I suggest you go to the link I posted. What I have said is there in black and white. …. Fats
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  15. TheSoundman

    TheSoundman Active Member

    West Palm Beach, FL
    Home Page:
    I hope this helps clear things up. There are actually two seperate issues being discussed here:

    1) Creation of a copyright (or copyrightable work)

    2) Registering the copyright (or copyrightable work) with the copyright registration office.

    This is an excerpt from the copyright office web site via the link Fats provided:


    Copyright Secured Automatically upon Creation

    The way in which copyright protection is secured is frequently misunderstood. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. There are, however, certain definite advantages to registration.

    Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. "Copies" are material objects from which a work can be read or visually perceived either directly or with the aid of a machine or device, such as books, manuscripts, sheet music, film, videotape, or microfilm. "Phonorecords" are material objects embodying fixations of sounds (excluding, by statutory definition, motion picture soundtracks), such as cassette tapes, CDs, or LPs. Thus, for example, a song (the "work") can be fixed in sheet music ("copies") or in phonograph disks ("phonorecords"), or both.

    (end of copyright office posting)

    The issue that may arise is proof of copyright. If you don't register a copyright, that burden of proof falls upon the person contesting a subsequent copyright registration or unauthorized use of the copyrighted work. An unopened piece of mail containing the copyrighted work with a postmark that predates the subsequent copyright registration or unauthorized use could provide this proof, but now you are in a court of law with an expensive lawyer to defend your rights. A small registration fee could certainly save you a lot of headaches down the road if your work becomes popular.
  16. You CAN protect your songs by sending yourself a tape of the song in a registered letter to yourself. This will, in a court of law, establish a date that is pretty much irrefutable as to the date of creation of the song. However, no question, it is definitely better to actually copyright the song with the Library of Congress. If your songs are worth protecting, they are worth the $20. or whatever . Although everyone thinks that their music is great, you might want to ask someone who's a profeffional if your material is worth protecting...otherwise the registered letter is a cheaper alternative. It becomes much more expensive if you have to sue someone to establish your authorship. I had a single on eddie money's second album, in 1979. i got a letter from a lawyer claiming his client wrote the tune in 1976.
    i sent him a copy of our band doing it live in 1972! never heard from him again....
  17. Gary Gidak

    Gary Gidak Member

    I'll have to agree with Fats on this one. As a songwriter/musician I've copyrighted a lot of songs, and done a lot of research on copyrights. The old "mail it to yourself" routine seems to make sense, but it won't hold up in court. As Fats said, a copyright form is a registration of your work, held within the Library of Congress. Just because you mail something to yourself doesn't prove that somebody else did not write the song.

    Example: Suppose you hear a song somebody wrote. You go home, quickly make a recording of it. Drop it in an envelope, and mail it back to yourself. A few weeks, or months, or whenever later, the creator of the tune copyrights it using the proper steps. Song is picked up by major artist - goes multi-platinum. You sue creator, claiming you had the song first. Court looks at all the info, and guess what - whoever holds the copyright form wins the case. That's just the way it is.

    Copyrights were developed as a means of accountability. Everything else is just hearsay. Sure, the law states that you're protected the minute you create something, but how do you prove it's yours to begin with? Answer: register it, using proper copyright form, with the Library of Congress.
  18. jimistone

    jimistone Guest

    why would you want to mail it to yourself when you can mail it to the library of congress?

    I think $20 bucks is very reasonable for registering a song. I usually do 2 or three songs on one registration can do a whole album for $20 if you wanted to.

    you are not copyrighting a song when you send it to the library of congress. The minute you compose the song it is copyrighted...all you are doing is REGISTERING your copyright with the library of congress (so you will have a leg to stand on in court if legal issues of copyright ever comne up)

    If there were legal issues involving copyright on one of my compositions i would rather be standing before the judge with a libray of congress copyright registration in my hand...then standing there like a dumbass holding a letter i mailed to myself.

    one suggestion to writers about registration:

    it takes months to get your copy of the registration back, but. if you read the LOC forms and FAQ they say that your copyright is actually registered when they recieve your material.

    so, send the material with a return you will get the recipt back with the date they got it and a signature.....that way if someone claimed a copyright on your song while you were waiting for the official registration you will know the date you can legally make claim to the copyright registration.

    you could find this out without the return reciept but it would take some time and money (the LOB charges you for that kind of research)

    i have heard the old "mail it to yourself" theory time after time....i have never thought that held water.
  19. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    Another point. When you submit your song to the Library of Congress, it’s there for all time. In a thousand years, your song will be there for people to hear and say “This is what music was like in 2003.” It will become a part of the archeological record. That’s pretty cool. I suppose it’s all a matter of priorities. I can’t imagine why someone would be reticent to register their work with the Library of Congress / Copyright office. $20? $40? What is that in the scheme of things? Compared to the loss one is exposing themselves to… it’s cheap insurance. But if you need to hang on to your money for beer, then that’s your decision. That shows where your priorities lie. If that’s the case, just go drink your self silly and quit yanking everyone’s chain. If you want to be a serious songwriter or composer, get with the program and do the things that need to be done. It costs money to do business. There is no way around that. Just bite the bullet and do it.
    Tannoy, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D , Genelec, Hafler, KRK, and PMC
    Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.
  20. i agree with what you guys say.
    but i have a question:
    when i submit the work of an album
    do all songs get coprighted or just the"album" in its running order and only the full album (not seperate tracks) get copy righted?

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