Imagine that you have just composed a fantastic song and recorded it. Automatically, you own the song and the recording. But in case you land in any kind of copyright dispute, you need to be able to prove your ownership. For this, you have to register your work with the U.S Copyright Office. This will help you to impose your right on your composition during copyright infringement situations.
Let us discuss ways of going ahead and safeguarding your song/composition/work and learning how to copyright your song:
How to Copyright Songs Online?
- The first step in ensuring your right over your creation is to create a hard copy of the same. Record your song on a CD, a cassette, save a copy of it on a USB drive or simply write it down on a sheet of paper. Now that you have copyrighted your song, all you need to do is go ahead and register it with the Government.
- The easiest and fastest way to register is by doing it online. Visit the Government of U.S Copyright website and go to the Electronic Copyright section where you can register yourself as a user.
- After registering you can fill out the online application forms for copyright registration. While filling out the forms you need to carefully read the instructions and follow them to avoid rejection.
- Once the form has been filled out, you need to pay the registration fee. You can pay the fees using a credit card, debit card, a copyright office deposit account or an Automated Clearing House Transfer. Online registration is a cheaper option compared to paper registration and costs somewhere close to $ 35.
- After the payment, you will also have to upload a copy of your audio recording digitally as per the instructions on the website.
- You would receive confirmation of your registration within three to five months which is faster compared to mail registration which takes around seven to ten months at the least.
How to Copyright Songs via Mail?
You can also register your copyright by sending a hardcopy through mail to the Copyrights Office. You can download the form from the copyright office website or call the office and request it to be sent to you.
There are different kinds of forms available as per the kind of registration that you want to do:
- If you want to register a sound recording, you need to fill out the Form SR.
- For performing arts recordings and for live performance cover versions, the Form PA needs to be filled out.
- The generalized form for both sound recordings and performing arts recordings is Form CO.
- Be sure to use the correct form as per your requirement as each form will serve a different purpose. The SR and PA form costs $65 whereas the CO form costs $45.
- Read the instructions of the form carefully and fill it out accordingly. Reach out to the copyright office if you have any queries. Send the filled out form, the cheque or money order for the exact amount of registration fee and a copy of your song in a sealed package to the US Copyright office.
- Now all you need to do is wait for your registration to be sanctioned. It takes an average of eight months and a maximum of fifteen months for the copyright office to issue a certificate of registration for requests received over mail.
Points to keep in mind
As you are foolproofing your copyright, make sure that you look into these following points:
- Do not use copied music or song sections in your work. The US Copyright office could straight away cancel your registration and you could get sued for infringement.
- There is something called the poor man’s copyright which is a method where you could mail a recorded copy of your song to yourself. This would provide you with a date stamp as a proof of the songs date of origin. This method is only valid if the package remains unopened and sealed. But as we are well aware that stamps and seals on envelopes can be unsealed and resealed, it is no longer considered a valid method of copyrighting in the US courts.
- As per the Berne Convention, in all the states that come under this convention, any song composed is automatically copyrighted when it comes into existence. Only in the U.S, your song, melody, or lyrics etc can be copyrighted individually. In other countries, only the title of the song is recorded, thereby reducing the overall scope of protection.
So, the entire process is pretty simple. However, take legal help to ensure that no mistakes are made during the registration process. This would be helpful when you are trying to register multiple songs at a go.