P. 1
How To Copyright a Song

How To Copyright a Song

|Views: 0|Likes:
Published by discreetexpendi34

More info:

Published by: discreetexpendi34 on Jul 08, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





How To Copyright a Song

Copyright infringement is not as prevalent as most songwriters imagine, but it is important for
songwriters to know their options and rights.
Is it Necessary to Copyright a Song?
All works are automatically copyright protected once created in fixed form (written or recorded)*.
Singing it before a live audience does not constitute fixed form, and an idea or title can not be
copyrighted. In spite of the fixed form copyright, official registration can determine rights in a
copyright infringement lawsuit.
Is it Possible to Copyright a Collection of Songs Rather Than Individually?
Following a few guidelines, the short answer is yes! That means one form and one fee! A typical
collection registration might include all songs on a CD plus the lyrics and artwork. The collection
can be registered under one title such as the CD cover title, or simply 2009 Susie Songwriter Songs.
All songs in a collection must have the same copyright owner(s).
Drawbacks exist to this registration process. If someone hears a song and tries to find it by a title
search, that search will not result in a hit. Also, if a publisher is interested in one particular song
registered in a collection, the transfer of copyright may be more complicated.
How to File a Song Copyright and What Does it Cost?
Forms can be obtained from the US Copyright Office on their website. The cost? $35.00 to file
online, $45.00 in paper format.
When Does a Copyright Expire?
According to the U.S. Copyright Office, a copyright exists for the lifetime of the writer plus 70 years.
If the song is written by more than one person, it endures for 70 years after the last surviving
authors death*. A copyright on works-for-hire endures for 95 years from publication or 120 years
from creation, whichever is shorter.
What is Proper Copyright Disclosure?
A complete copyright notice on published works includes the symbol , Copyright or Copr. + the year
of first publication + the name of copyright owner.
Example: 2008 Susie Songwriter
What is Considered Copyright Infringement?
Melodic construction is the same
Both songs could be mistaken for each other
Song sampling
File sharing through sites such as Napster
without permission or compensation to the
copyright owner
When is a Song Considered in the Public Domain?
A song is considered Public Domain if composed
before copyright laws or when no one knows who wrote it. Once a songs copyright has expired it is
also considered Public Domain. As defined by Wikipedia: The public domain is a range of abstract
materialscommonly referred to as intellectual propertywhich are not owned or controlled by anyone.
The term indicates that these materials are therefore public property, and available for anyone to
use for any purpose.
What is a Copyright Infringement Worth to a Writer?
Copyright infringement settlements vary according to many factors. The current big buzz is over Joe
Satriani suing Coldplay. A list of copyright infringement lawsuits are available as researched
through the UCLA Intellectual Property Project and Columbia Law Schools Copyright Infringement
Project. According to their list, the earliest legal action hit the courts in1845 between Plaintiff Henry
Russell and Defendant Samuel Carusi over The Old Arm Chair.
*Refers to works created on or after January 1, 1978. Other guidelines exist for songs written prior
to this time frame.
NOTE: This article does not represent legal advice. For further guidance contact a legal
Related Reading:
"Songwriting Tips - Song Ideas"
Bibliography Reference: John Braheny, The Craft and Business of Songwriting, Second Ed 2002,
Writers Digest Books

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->