Music Copyright 101

Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash

Do I need to copyright my music or song?

As a recording artist, you are a content creator, intellectual property owner, and copyright holder. Figuring out how copyrights fit into your career and business dealings can be complicated. In this post, we will give you a basic understanding of the steps you can take to protect yourself and your copyrights.

As a recording artist, it is important to understand how to manage copyrights in order to protect your intellectual property and ensure that you are receiving fair compensation for your work. Copyright law can be complex and confusing, but understanding the basics of how it works can help you make informed decisions and maximize the value of your content.

What forms of copyright protection are needed upon creation of content?

Under U.S. Copyright Law, anyone that has helped to create your content has an instant equal share of copyright ownership and rights by default, regardless of how large their contribution was. Having proper agreements in place can prevent infringement and misuse by your collaborators. To put it bluntly, without a proper contract in place, any individual who was even minimally involved in the creative process of writing or producing your song, music or merch could make an unjustified claim that they have the same authority over the ownership and rights as you do. Additionally, simply paying someone to contribute to the work isn’t enough to ensure that they won’t have a claim of ownership on your content either.

  • Implementing an Agreement is an effective measure one can take to prevent expensive missteps in the future.

  • Utilizing a Split Sheet is a way to make sure that all of your collaborators are aware of who owns what percentage of the content you are creating together. It ensures that no one is left in the dark or surprised by any changes in ownership.

  • A Work for Hire Agreement is essential when outsourcing work to someone(producers, photographers, videographer etc…). It establishes the percentage ownership of the work created and outlines what the hired worker needs to do. Furthermore, it also outlines any additional terms and conditions that both parties need to be aware of.

  • Producer Agreements can be used to establish ownership percentages when working or collaborating with a music producer on a song.

What is a “copyright” and what does it mean?

A copyright is a form of legal protection that grants the owner exclusive rights to reproduce, publish, and distribute their creative works. By registering a copyright, the owner can protect their work from infringement by others. Copyright law gives authors, artists, and other creators the ability to control how their work is used and shared. This helps ensure that creators get credit (and sometimes money) for their hard work.

Copyright is a form of protection that automatically exists once you have created your content (sound recordings, compositions, album art, videos, literature, etc.) Copyright only protects the original expression of ideas, facts, names, methods or systems. Therefore, as a copyright holder, you possess exclusive rights to capitalize on your content for monetary gain.

Why register content with the U.S. Copyright Office?

Registering copyrights can be a powerful tool for protecting creativity and intellectual property. It is an important form of insurance that ensures creators are able to defend their work from plagiarism, piracy, and other forms of theft. By taking the proactive step of registering copyrights, creators can ensure that their creativity is secure in the event of any unwanted use or abuse.

Registering content with the U.S. Copyright Office is an important step for creators to ensure their work is protected and their rights are secured. By registering with the U.S. Copyright Office, creators can gain legal protection from copyright infringement, access to justice in federal court and exclusive economic rights over their works for a period of 70 years after death. Registering with the U.S. Copyright Office provides creators with a powerful tool to protect their intellectual property and gain control over how it is used and distributed.

How does having a copyright help recording artist?

Having a copyright is essential for recording artists to protect their work from being used without permission or compensation. This is especially important for those who are just starting out in the music industry, as it can help them to establish ownership of their work and make sure it is not copied or used without their consent. By having a copyright, recording artists can also receive royalties when others use their music and they can take legal action if someone violates the copyright. Having a copyright also helps to promote an artist’s work by giving them the recognition they deserve for creating something unique and original.

Think of registering your copyrights as a form of insurance, you wouldn’t wait until something bad happens to get an insurance policy.

  • In order to take legal action against someone who has used your music or samples you song or voice without permission, it is necessary to have registered your copyright with the U.S Copyright Office beforehand.

  • Only copyright holders who have obtained a decision regarding their application (a certificate is granted that is proof of ownership) may file a lawsuit – which can take 3 to 7 months.(So start now)

  • Pending copyright applications are not eligible for legal actions. (So start now)

Furthermore, you may be able to collect attorney’s fees and statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement. Most infringement cases occur within the United States, which makes local registration with the U.S.

Copyright infringement is a serious issue and can have severe consequences. Local registration of copyright can help protect creators against copyright infringement and provide them with numerous legal remedies, such as the pursuit of attorney’s fees and statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement. This protection is particularly important within the United States, where most cases of copyright infringement occur.

What types of music can be copyrighted?

It can be challenging to determine what music qualifies as copyrightable material. here’s what is eligible and what isn’t eligible for copyright protection.

Eligible for copyright:

  • Song lyrics

  • Completed works (eg. songs, jingles, incidental music, symphonic pieces)

Not eligible for copyright:

  • Song titles

  • Chord progressions

  • Incomplete or unfinished works

How do I copyright my music or song?

It is essential for musicians and composers to protect their intellectual property from potential infringement with copyright registration. Fortunately, there are now a variety of services available online that provide quick and simple processes for registering musical compositions.

Applying for registration with the U.S. Copyright Office requires an application, a filing fee, and a copy of the work. Depending on the project type, there are various online application options available including Standard Application for registering solo audio recordings or musical works.

Below are a few websites that offer copyright registration services for musical compositions. Fees

This is in no way legal advice. We advise all artist and parties involved to consult with a licensed lawyer before creating or signing any legal binding contract or agreement. We are in no way associated with the websites listed above.