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View Full Version : How do you copyright your music?


Meteo Xavier
01-02-2010, 10:14 PM
In my haste to get my Chinese Democracy of a first album out, I've completely forgotten that I don't know how to get my music copyrighted.

Because I plan on shopping it around some indie labels (with realistic expectations I promise you), does it make sense to copyright it or how does that work? I've never been very good at keeping this shit straight.

Also, how much does it cost?

Moseph
01-02-2010, 10:35 PM
If you've created something, you already have a copyright on it regardless of whether you've registered it. Registering the copyright with the US government gives you some added legal protections that mostly relate to lawsuits and it makes your ownership of the copyright a matter of public record. You don't have to register before you publish, and you can still put a copyright notice on your work (e.g. 2010 John Q. Public) without registering it.

I think it's something like $35 per registration. I've never registered anything. The site for official info is http://www.copyright.gov/.

Meteo Xavier
01-03-2010, 01:15 AM
So its $35 per song, or $35 for my Artist name and/or album? I mean, I'd love to be publicly recognized and have that real legal shield so as not to lose good work to fuckwads like the guy who ripped off Skrypnyk, but I need to know my best route to go here.

zircon
01-03-2010, 02:04 AM
You can't copyright your artist name - you would trademark that. Trademarking is expensive however and not really worth it unless your artist name isn't particularly unique and is in danger of being used by others (knowingly or unknowingly.)

As for copyright, you need to copyright both your songs AND sound recordings of those songs. These days you pay about $35-50 to copyright an entire BATCH of songs/sound recordings, so it's a pretty good deal.

However, I would say that actually registering your copyright(s) in this manner is not really worth it. Yes, it does provide you with better legal recourse, but think about it... if someone is out to rip you off, they're going to do it whether or not you registered your stuff. Furthermore, anyone ripping you off is probably going to be out of the country and safe from prosecution. Even if they weren't, going to court is very time-consuming and expensive for you, even when you know you're going to win. It can still take months and months to resolve anything, as well as potentially thousands of dollars.

Moseph
01-03-2010, 02:11 AM
I don't know the details, since I've never registered anything. They have some FAQ/info sheets on the site that would be worth reading. Zircon or someone else who's established in the industry would have a better idea of the best thing to do than I would. (EDIT: Sniped; see above :<)

Meteo Xavier
01-03-2010, 02:34 AM
Well, like I was telling Zircon on AIM, its probably more for vanity reasons than actual protection I'm discovering. I can only really think of one person who might actually have enough interest in what I do to go to the trouble of ripping me off, and I'm not even sure he's still stalking me or whatever.

But I'm pretty ignorant on the subject, so thats why I asked. Glad to see I get some kind of rights to it.

ciank
01-04-2010, 08:29 AM
There are other options in between doing nothing and registering at the copyright office. You actually are the copyright owner of your original work without you doing anything, but you must be able to prove this; once your work has been put out "in the wild" on the internet, not only can you have your content stolen, but to add insult to injury you can be accused of being the thief!!

You can send yourself a cd in a sealed registered post envelope.

There are online options too; I like www.digiprove.com (http://www.digiprove.com) because they use digital fingerprinting (you don't have to upload your work); it's an industrial strength product but there is a free starter pack.

Meteo Xavier
01-04-2010, 09:57 PM
Couldn't I just produce the .flp original file to prove it?

BlackPanther
01-04-2010, 10:22 PM
I would assume so if they don't have the project file and you do, that would be a clear indication that you are the actual creator of the song =/. Sorry to just jump in the thread like this but I had similar questions but Meteo Xavier was kind enough to already ask for me lol.

Palpable
01-04-2010, 10:54 PM
We registered a whole bunch of our songs for copyright a while back, and I would advice against it for smaller musicians (such as ourselves). The fee was $65 for us (though much cheaper if you do it electronically, which wasn't available to us at the time) and it took, no joke, almost two and a half years for them to process it. When we finally got the certificate, I was dumbfounded, having totally forgotten about it.

What I have realized since we submitted our form is that a) if part of your song is ripped off and makes someone else a lot of money, chances are you won't see a cent. It's very hard to prove those kinds of things, you need to demonstrate that they had access to hear your song, etc. And b) it's very unlikely someone will make a lot of money off your recording that they ripped off. That would just be moronic for them to do, because even without a registered copyright, you are likely to sue them and they'd be much better off using a song they can pay the royalties on. Most likely, if anyone does rip off your song, it'll be something small-time that earns them almost no money if any.

GarretGraves
01-05-2010, 01:43 AM
Whatever I had to say on the matter has been said already. But I do wish to add one thing.

I highly recommend Bobby Borg's "The musician's handbook: a practical guide to understanding the music business": http://books.google.com/books?id=66rjkehRxZoC&dq=Bobby+Borg&printsec=frontcover&source=an&hl=en&ei=eaZCS72UA4WMswOHl62JBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=11&ved=0CCwQ6AEwCg#v=onepage&q=&f=false

I haven't had to read it yet but I imagine anyone could find the answers they need regarding this subject.

zircon
01-05-2010, 02:01 AM
There are other options in between doing nothing and registering at the copyright office. You actually are the copyright owner of your original work without you doing anything, but you must be able to prove this; once your work has been put out "in the wild" on the internet, not only can you have your content stolen, but to add insult to injury you can be accused of being the thief!!

You can send yourself a cd in a sealed registered post envelope.

There are online options too; I like www.digiprove.com (http://www.digiprove.com) because they use digital fingerprinting (you don't have to upload your work); it's an industrial strength product but there is a free starter pack.


This is all bunk... any other option besides registering the copyright with the government will not give you the proper legal standing. It is actually codified in the law that in order to get certain restitution and have prima facie evidence in a civil dispute, you need to specifically register your work with the U.S. copyright office. Period. End of story.