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Copyrights - best and easist


clpete

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I have written a number of songs. I need to get some of them protected. I've always heard that you can make a copy and mail it to yourself certified and it will be protected from someone else stealing it.

 

Can you guys give me any advice?

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I've always heard that you can make a copy and mail it to yourself certified and it will be protected from someone else stealing it.

 

Yup...we've all heard that, but it won't hold up in a court of law.

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It is so ridiculously easy to register your songs online now that there's no excuse not to do it. You don't even need sheet music, just MP3s of the songs. There's more info on that site. You can copyright all your songs (so long as they all share the same authorship) in one batch for $35.

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As Noah mentioned, it pays to brush up on copyright.

 

But, the reality is, until those songs are being recorded for a commercial release, a copyright is pointless.

 

In other words, it would be hard to prove that someone infringed on your copyright i.e. had access to that song.

 

OTOH, when a song is commercially available, it becomes easier to litigate.

 

The adage in the music business is, in order to copyright a song, make it a hit record first. :laugh:

 

Just something to think about. Then again, folks waste $35 or more on other stuff all the time. ;):cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Really? You're saying that you and others "in the music business" suggest to not bother copyrighting your songs until you are going to release them? What about performing them live, posting them on your mYspaZ site, your web site, etc.? I would imagine there are many writers whose songs are only out these ways, at least for a long time.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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As Noah mentioned, it pays to brush up on copyright.

 

But, the reality is, until those songs are being recorded for a commercial release, a copyright is pointless.

 

In other words, it would be hard to prove that someone infringed on your copyright i.e. had access to that song.

 

OTOH, when a song is commercially available, it becomes easier to litigate.

 

The adage in the music business is, in order to copyright a song, make it a hit record first. :laugh:

 

Just something to think about. Then again, folks waste $35 or more on other stuff all the time. ;):cool:

Ok, so you really don't have to register your copyright until it's going to be released, but you need to be able to prove that it's your work if someone else want's to steal it.

 

What is the best way to do that?

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FWIW, it's my understanding that technically the song enjoys copyright protection at the time it is created. Actually registering the copyright would obviously help defend that copyright if it was challenged.

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My advice is to record your songs to a CD. Submit that along with an SR form the Library of Congress.

 

My response is based on the fact that copyright infringement is usually a problem after a song has been commercially released.

 

Imagine playing your tunes in a local bar and/or having it up on myspace. Let's say 6 months or 1 year later, you hear the very same song on MTV.

 

Copyright infringement. Litigation. Right?

 

Maybe.

 

One has to hire a lawyer, haul the offending record company in to court and prove they had access to the song.

 

The expenses are usually too much for an unknown songwriter/composer to cover.

 

Often times, the settlement is hardly ever worth it. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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The adage in the music business is, in order to copyright a song, make it a hit record first. :laugh:

 

I've certainly never heard that adage.

 

If you ever plan to cut a demo & pitch a song (via taxi or any industry contacts you may have), you'd better have it copyrighted. In fact, some will not even consider a piece if it doesn't have a copyright notice. They want to know it is legitmately propety of the one submitting it before they risk getting themselves in an ugly copyright battle (if whomever pitched the song lifted it from someone else).

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FWIW, it's my understanding that technically the song enjoys copyright protection at the time it is created. Actually registering the copyright would obviously help defend that copyright if it was challenged.
Incorrect. It's copyrighted at the time it's fixed in some media (recorded or written).

 

If you just play your tune and never record or write it, you have NO copyright protection.

 

For more info, here's a page I wrote explaining the basics for the typical home recordist.

 

http://learjeff.net/tips/copyright.html

 

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My advice is to record your songs to a CD. Submit that along with an SR form the Library of Congress.

 

My response is based on the fact that copyright infringement is usually a problem after a song has been commercially released.

 

Imagine playing your tunes in a local bar and/or having it up on myspace. Let's say 6 months or 1 year later, you hear the very same song on MTV.

 

Copyright infringement. Litigation. Right?

 

Maybe.

 

One has to hire a lawyer, haul the offending record company in to court and prove they had access to the song.

 

The expenses are usually too much for an unknown songwriter/composer to cover.

 

Often times, the settlement is hardly ever worth it. :cool:

 

True, but if you are the first to register a copyright with the US Gov't, you are *assumed* to be the author unless proven otherwise.

 

Practically speaking, most copyrights are wasted money, because most copyrighted songs are never sold. But that's like saying most insurance money is wasted, because most people end up paying more in insurance than you ever receive back. A copyright registration is like an insurance policy. But as Prof points out, it's only as good as your ability to police it and protect it.

 

In any case, though, a threatening letter has considerably more weight if it's backed up by a duly filed copyright.

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About a copyright notice (the © thing). It no longer has any legal status in the US. It's not required. It may be a violation to use it if you do NOT have a copyright. It's still a good idea to put it there if you have copyrighted the work, to let others know you have and that you intend to protect your rights, and under what name the copyright is registered.

 

If studios, distributors, etc. are paying any attention to © labels other than to find the name under which it's registered, they're being foolish, because the ink has little meaning and could be pasted there without any legal basis. If they actually check to see if the work is registered, then they're protecting themselves.

 

Nonetheless, I agree with the spirit of mcgoo's post.

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And keep in mind that you can register any number of tunes on one CD, as long as the copyright ownership is identical for all tunes. That is, if all music is by John Smith and all lyrics are by Joe Shmoe, you're good. Leave out any tunes where Fred contributed.

 

The problem with registering them all on one CD is that the individual titles don't appear in the Library of Congress database anywhere (they don't even appear on the form you submit). The whole collection has a title, and that's all you get. Whether this interferes with further business like selling rights or assinging copyrights, I do not know.

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About the poor man's copyright, my father (a patent/copyright attorney), put it like this.

 

In general, evidence isn't considered self-evident in court. It has to be submitted along with *testimony* from someone. So, who are you going to depose to submit this "evidence"? The postmaster? What's the postmaster going to say about it? "Yeah, it has a postmark. But, folks can mail themselves unsealed envelopes too."

 

On the other hand, certain legal documents, such as real-estate deeds and copyright registrations, are accepted without testimony, and assumed to be factual when obtained or verified through the proper channels.

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The problem with registering them all on one CD is that the individual titles don't appear in the Library of Congress database anywhere (they don't even appear on the form you submit). The whole collection has a title, and that's all you get. Whether this interferes with further business like selling rights or assinging copyrights, I do not know.

 

To me this is the huge huge question. If I write a ton of cues, and copyright them all at once on a CD, how then can I transfer copyright ownership when a SINGLE tune from the collection is picked up by a library?

 

I think if you're the sole author, you can use the 'Short form PA' to register a group of songs with each title listed.

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The adage in the music business is, in order to copyright a song, make it a hit record first. :laugh:

 

I've certainly never heard that adage.

 

If you ever plan to cut a demo & pitch a song (via taxi or any industry contacts you may have), you'd better have it copyrighted.

 

D*mn emoticons don't always work. ;)

 

However, reading between the lines, there is truth in my statement too.

 

Folks usually pursue copyright infringement when the material becomes profitable.

 

In order to make money, a song has to be commercially available.

 

So, again, if your songs stand a chance of falling into the marketplace, by all means, copyright your work.

 

Besides, it only costs a few bucks. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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The adage in the music business is, in order to copyright a song, make it a hit record first. :laugh:

 

I've certainly never heard that adage.

 

If you ever plan to cut a demo & pitch a song (via taxi or any industry contacts you may have), you'd better have it copyrighted.

 

D*mn emoticons don't always work. ;)

 

 

WHOOOOOSSSCCCHHH

 

.... the sound of your sarcasm / joke flying by my clueless head. :P

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