Want to better understand how to copyright your music to protect your work?
Yes? Then you've come to the right place.
If not, you should. Here's why.
When you're making music, you invest everything you've got. Your energy, creativity, and artistic drive guide you to creating your music.
The result of the hard work that you invest is a composition or a recording that you're proud of. Still, your job's not done.
It would be best that you protect your work.
If you want to copyright your music but aren’t sure how to do it, or whether you should do it or not, just keep reading.
Here’s music copyright 101, and everything you need to know about protecting your music.
What Is Music Copyright?
Before we get to the point and explain how you need to understand what copyright is and why you should do it to protect your music.
Protecting your music using copyright will give you exclusive rights to use and distribute your music the way you want to. That means that only you'll be able to:
- make copies of the music
- perform it live
- prepare and publish different arrangements of the same work
- authorize (or don’t) some else to play your music
- collect royalties from your music being performed by others, played on the radio, television, or used in any other way
By protecting your music using copyright, you become the sole owner of your music and no one else can use it without you allowing them to.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the process of protecting your music and making sure it stays yours.
Step 1: Record Your Music
The first thing you need to do when you want to copyright your music is to record it or write it down somewhere.
It’s not enough that you just know how to play, sing, or hum the music. There needs to be a trace recorded on a tangible medium.
Here’s why this is essential: your music and lyrics are protected by copyright as soon as you’ve recorded them in any way, using any type of medium
So, this step is the most important one.
Once you’re done recording, it’s time to take things a step further and register your music with The United States Copyright Office.
Step 2: Register an Account With the US Copyright Office
The United States Copyright Office is the official legal institution that can issue a document saying your music is protected by copyright.
As we've already covered, the moment you record your music, you've got the copyright. Still, registering your work here will stand strong as a proof on the court and make it easier for you to claim your legal rights.
So, why not doing it?
Here’s what you need to do:
- go to www.copyright.gov
- click “Register” to start with the process
- choose “Log in to the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) Registration System”
- since you’re a new user, choose the registration option once again
- you’ll be asked to provide information such as name, email, username, password, etc.
Once you finish filling out the online registration form, you officially have an account. Now, all that's left is to copyright your music.
Step 3: Copyright Registration
Now is the time for the real deal. You need to register your music for copyright and make sure you have the full rights over it at all times.
There are two options in front of you:
- Registering Online
Registering online is better because of the following:
- the fee you pay for online registration is cheaper
- it’s faster
- it’s easier and more convenient
All you have to do is fill out the online registration forms. You’ll be provided with specific instructions so make sure you follow these.
Next, you have the option to upload the music digitally or send a hard copy via mail.
Finally, you need to pay for the registration fee. Once again, you can do this electronically, using your card.
The process is rather simple and you can finish it all sitting at your desk. Still, if you prefer registering via mail, you can go for this option as well.
- Registering Via Mail
Registering via mail is a bit more complex process, but still rather simple.
To complete an application via mail, you’ll need to:
- fill out a paper form provided to you on the website, aka the Form PA or the Form SR, depending on what you want to register and protect
- send a hard copy of your recorded music
- pay the fee
Once you assemble your application forms and necessities, you need to mail it to the US Copyright Office.
Whichever option you choose, make sure that you read the instructions carefully, and follow the rules stated.
Step 4: Wait For the Registration to Process
All you have left it waiting. Your registration is sent and now it needs time to be processed.
“This period can last from three to ten months, based on how you’ve sent it and many other factors. Still, once you know your work is fully protected by copyright, you’ll know it was worth the wait” says Marc Pearson, an audio engineer and a writer at Studicus.
Step 5: Internet Distribution
You have the rights to your music, but it won’t always stop people from using it and distributing it online.
This is why you need to pay attention to whether your work is being used online or not. Remember, if someone is using your music:
- to make a profit
- to advertise their product
- without a license
then you have the right to claim for taking it down.
Try monitoring your work online and don’t allow people to misuse it or damage your reputation.
Protecting your music is important. You don’t want to be lazy and skip the step of registering for copyright when the process is so simple. Later on, you might regret not doing it.
Therefore, follow the steps above to complete your registration and protect your work for good.
If you want to learn more about music copywright, check out “How To Copyright Your Music” on Udemy.
Guest post: Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Now she works as a freelance writer at TrustMyPaper and GrabMyEssay.
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