Learn How To Copyright Your Music!
It has come to our attention that there are several unsigned artists that jump fast on selling their music without the knowledge of how to properly do so. Copyrighting your music is a big step in doing that. As easy as it is, there is a huge lack of knowledge on the know how.
I came into connection with a Music Attorney from LA, of course a Facebook friend, by the name of Chris Hudson. He posted a great step by step article on how to copyright your music. This is so important and also lets people know you are serious about your music career.
The Most Cost-Effective Way to Register Your Music with the Copyright Office (Step by Step Instructions) by Christopher Hudson, Esq.
There are quite a few reasons to register your music with the Copyright Office. It’s required to file a copyright infringement lawsuit and opens the possibility of attorneys’ fees and statutory damages of as much as $150,000 per work if you’re successful. It also creates a presumption of ownership and validity of the copyright and of the facts stated on the registration certificate. And it lets record executives, publishers, booking agencies, managers, producers, other artists and anyone else you may work with professionally know that you’re serious about your career and protecting what you create. This guide explains the most cost- effective way to register your work with the Copyright Office and walks you through the process step by step.
The cost to register a copyright online is $35, however the Copyright Office allows you to register groups of songs at once on the same form for a fee of $55. So you can register your entire album or mixtape (or beat CD, if you’re a producer) for $55. Here’s how to do it :
Go to www.copyright.gov, click on “Register a Copyright” and then click on “Log in to eCO”. Login if you’re already a registered user; otherwise, click the New User link and enter all of the required information.
Once you get to the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) screen, click Register a New Claim on the left. At the next page you’ll be asked 3 yes or no questions. Click No for the first question (Are you registering one work), then answer the remaining 2 questions truthfully, then click Start Registration. There are 12 parts: 1. Type of Work; 2. Titles; 3. Publication/Completion; 4. Authors; 5. Claimants; 6. Limitation of Claim; 7. Rights & Permissions; 8. Correspondent; 9. Mail Certificate; 10. Special Handling; 11. Certification; and 12. Review Submission.
1. Type of Work
a. Choose “Sound Recording” then click Continue.
a. Click New, then under “Title Type”, choose “Title of work being registered”. Under “Title of this work”, enter the name of the album or mixtape (don’t use quotation marks and make sure to use appropriate capitalization), then click Save.
b. At the next screen, click New. Under “Title Type”, choose “Contents Title” and under “Title of this work”, enter the name of the song you want to register, then click Save. Repeat this step for all of the songs on the album or mixtape.
a. If the album/mixtape has been published, meaning distributed to the public, choose Yes. Enter the year the work was completed, the date of first publication (if you don’t know the exact date you can approximate), and the country, then click Continue.
b. If the work hasn’t been published, choose No. Enter the year the work was completed, then click Continue.
a. Click New, then enter the required information for each author, then click Save. At the next screen, choose how the author contributed to the song (sound recording, music, performance, lyrics and/or production, choose all that apply), then click Save.
a. The Copyright Office defines a claimant as either “the author of a work”, or “a person or organization that has obtained ownership of all rights under the copyright initially belonging to the author.” Authors will always be considered claimants so click New, then enter your name and address under Individual Claimant, then click Save. Repeat as many times as necessary for all authors.
b. If you have transferred all rights in the copyright to a third party, you must list this party as a claimant. Click New, then enter the required information for the claimant either as an individual or an organization. Select how the transfer occurred from the drop down box (by written agreement, inheritance, or other). If Other (for example, through community property), type it in the space provided, then click Save. Skip this step if it doesn’t apply.
6. Limitation of Claim
a. If any of your songs are covers (even those in the public domain like “Jingle Bells” or “Deck the Halls”), declare them here. Check the appropriate box(es) under “Material Excluded” that describes the preexisting elements used (Music, Lyrics, etc.), then type the track numbers for all of the covers in the box next to “Other”. Then under “New Material Included”, list all the other non-cover tracks on the album/mixtape in the box next to “Other” then check the appropriate box(es) that describes the new material created by the author(s), then click Continue.
b. If this section doesn’t apply to you then leave everything blank and click Continue.
7. Rights & Permissions
a. It’s a good idea to keep contact information on file for your song in case a third party wants to use it for sampling or licensing. Enter the required information then click Continue. If you don’t want to keep this information on file, just click Continue to move on.
a. Separate from the Rights & Permissions use, the Copyright Office needs a correspondent’s contact information attached to your application for its own use. It can be your own or that of a third party or organization. Fill in name, email and address (you can add a phone and/or fax number too if you’d like), then click Continue.
9. Mail Certificate
a. Fill in the address where you want your registration certificate to be mailed and the names, then click Continue.
10. Special Handling
a. Since copyright registration is a prerequisite to filing an infringement lawsuit, the Copyright Office charges outrageously expensive, non-refundable fees to expedite processing of applications and other related services. Unless you’re both made of money and planning to sue someone for infringement in the next five business days, skip this part by clicking Continue.
a. You must certify that you’re the author of the work being registered and that all information contained in the application is correct to the best of your knowledge. Fill in this information then click Continue.
12. Review Submission
a. Here you can review the entire application on a single screen. You cannot make changes once you submit it so carefully review it all. If you need to make any changes, click the appropriate link on the left to go back. If everything is correct, click Add to Cart.
From there, follow the instructions to pay the $55 filing fee (either by electronic funds transfer or credit/debit card) and submit a copy of your album/mixtape to the Copyright Office. Uploading the files online is faster and easier, but you also have the option of submitting a hard copy by mail. You’ll receive a confirmation email once the Office receives your songs and if everything is correct with your application, you should receive your registration certificate in the mail within 3 to 5 months. But you can check the status of your case at any time by logging in to the Copyright Office website and clicking “My Applications” on the left.
If money is an issue and you’re looking for a way to protect your music for free, I’d recommend using www.myfreecopyright.com. The site allows you to securely upload your music and obtain a digital fingerprint of the date and time of transmission. You’d still need to register your work with the Copyright Office before filing an infringement suit and you’d be missing out on the other benefits of copyright registration (presumption of validity, statutory damages, etc.), but it’s a useful, free first step toward protecting your work.
To read the full article on his site, click the link below, click articles, and there you will see the Copyright Article. You can also contact him for his services!
Thanks to Chris for this information!
Make sure to follow Chris on IG – @lamusicattorney