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Copyrighting Music


Copyrighting music is no longer an option; it’s a necessity.  If you wish to prevent anyone from plagiarizing your songs, then copyrighting is the first action that should be taken before even allowing anyone to listen to your newest creation.  After this simple process, the song is legally yours.  More than likely you’ve spent time and money creating this piece of music, so take the time to protect it.


Someone might ask, “What exactly is copyrighting?”  Basically, copyrighting is “laying claim” to a musical piece which then makes it yours.  The Copyright Office is recognized as the law regarding music and other creative works.  In the past, people would send their music and lyrics to themselves and never open the envelope.  This was a way to prove the date and time that the song was finished and is called the poor man’s copyright.  Because filing with the Copyright Office is so simple, sending it to yourself no longer carries much weight in a court of law during a dispute.  


In order to copyright your music, you must send to the United States Copyright Office a copy of our song on CD or cassette tape along with a copyright form which can be downloaded from their official website.  If you are copyrighting the music and sound, then you need form SR.  For example, if your band recorded an album, then this is the form to use.


If you only want a song copyright and not the sound, then the Performing Arts Copyright is the one to use.  Perhaps you are a songwriter and only want the song covered legally but not the recording, then Form PA should be filled out and sent in to the Copyright Office.  Also, there is a Continuation Form (CON) which can be used with any of the forms.  Remember, each copyright that you are requesting will cost $45.  


Basically, you make a copy of your music, fill out the correct form, fill out a check or money order for the correct amount of songs you are including (made out to Register of Copyrights) and mail.  Make sure that you make copies of everything that is being sent for your records.  Mail “return receipt” to: Library of Congress Copyright Office, 101 Independence Avenue, SE Washington DC 20559-6000.


Everyone should copyright their music to prevent it from being stolen or misused.  If you own the copyright to a song and plagiarism occurs, then you have the legal right to make a claim for damages against the person who ripped you off.  This is a simple and inexpensive process for the amount of legal coverage and peace of mind that it gives you.