How to Copyright Music & Lyrics

by Cindy Hill
Copyright original music and lyrics to protect their economic value.

Copyright original music and lyrics to protect their economic value.

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Songwriters and composers invest enormous amounts of time and creative energy into developing new musical works. Copyright provides legal protection to ensure that others can not exploit that creative effort by using music and lyrics without the permission of the songwriter or composer. The U.S. Copyright Office has made it relatively simple to register the copyright of music and lyrics in one filing.

Step 1

Access the U.S. Copyright Office's online registration service at copyright.gov by clicking on the icon for Electronic Copyright Office.

Step 2

Check the list of acceptable audio file formats if your work is unpublished and you will be submitting a digital audio file. Ensure that your song has been saved in one of the acceptable formats.

Step 3

Complete the information requested on the form including the full legal name of the person or entity registering the copyright, the name and description of the work, and contact information.

Step 4

Upload the digital audio file where requested, or indicate that a hard-copy will be mailed.

Step 5

Make the online payment of $35 with a debit or credit card and submit the application.

Step 6

Promptly mail the hard copy cassette or compact disc if you were registering a published work.

Step 7

Check to ensure that you receive an email advising that your copyright registration has been received. The copyright registration is effective as soon as the file is received by the U.S. Copyright Office unless you are notified that it has been rejected.