23 Jun How to Copyright a Song
In the U.S. a song is automatically protected by copyright law the moment it is created. The creation must be in tangible form in order for the protection to apply. If you have ever committed a lyric to paper or a created simple voice-memo recording, congratulations, you are already the author of a protected work. Learning how to copyright a song with the U.S. copyright office can further protect you in case of infringement.
If my work is already protected, why register a copyright?
Anytime you post a lyric to the web or add a new song to your SoundCloud account, your work is protected under U.S. Copyright law. So why go the extra step and pay the fee to register the copyright? Registering a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office increases your ability to prove copyright infringement, should that ever occur. Only those with a filed copyright claim can pursue a copyright infringement case in the Federal court system. It’s interesting to note that the U.S. Copyright Office does not vet incoming copyright claims against those already registered in it’s database. Multiple writers can mistakenly claim 100% authorship of a song with the U.S. Copyright Office. If ownership of the song is later disputed in court, the date of first filing will matter, but is not the only factor in making a determination of who actually wrote the song.
How much does it cost to copyright a song?
- Single application (if you wrote the song by yourself) – $35.
- Standard application (registering with a co-writer) – $55.
What you will need to copyright a song.
1. Have your music and lyrics ready to upload.
2. If anyone besides yourself worked on the music, you will need their full legal name and contact info.
3. You will need to create an account with the U.S. copyright office so be prepared to supply a unique login and password.
How to copyright a song:
First, to copyright a song you first go to copyright.gov and click on Register on their home page. Then, you will choose the Performing Arts section unless you have any other work that you would like to be copyrighted. Before starting the application process, they offer a powerpoint that shows you the what the whole application looks like so you are properly prepared. A slideshow of the application is shown below!
OVERALL THOUGHTS ON THE COPYRIGHTING PROCESS
If you have all of your assets ready to go, it’s pretty simple to register your song with the U.S. Copyright Office. Like most things .gov, their website is desperately behind the times. Navigating their 1995 style website can be annoying, but if you can get over that it’s pretty straightforward.