Procedure for Copywriting Music

By Holly Cameron

A copyright protects an original musical work from unlicensed reproduction, sale or copying. Copyright protection exists in a musical work from the moment it is created in a tangible form. Although registration with the United States Copyright Office is not required by law, it is recommended as a method of establishing a permanent record of your creative work. Title 17 of the United States Code sets out the laws relating to copyright in the Copyright Act of 1976, as amended.

A copyright protects an original musical work from unlicensed reproduction, sale or copying. Copyright protection exists in a musical work from the moment it is created in a tangible form. Although registration with the United States Copyright Office is not required by law, it is recommended as a method of establishing a permanent record of your creative work. Title 17 of the United States Code sets out the laws relating to copyright in the Copyright Act of 1976, as amended.

Musical Works

Section 102 of the Copyright Act states that copyright exists in original works that have been fixed in a tangible medium of expression. This means that you only have copyright protection if you write the music down or record it in a physical form. A tune that exists merely in someone’s head is not protected by copyright. The Act states that musical works include any accompanying words if applicable.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now

Registration

To register a musical work, you should complete application form CO, available only from the U.S. Copyright Office website. You should then submit the completed application accompanied by a copy of the work to the U.S. Copyright Office either by mail or electronically via the website. The fee for online registration is $35 and for postal registration is $50. The U.S. Copyright Office retains the copy of your work together with your details as a public record.

Acceptable File Types

You can register music with the U.S. Copyright Office in any tangible form including sheet music, a CD, cassette or vinyl disc. You may also upload an electronic version of your work, if applicable. The copyright office has published a list of acceptable file types for audio works that include .ra (real audio files), .wav (Windows wave sound files) and .mid (musical instrument digital interface files). The complete list is available on the U.S. Copyright Office website.

Notice of Copyright

Once you register your musical work, you can place a notice of copyright on any published copy, according to Section 401 of the Copyright Act. For sheet music, you can place the symbol © or the word “copyright” on the work, together with the year of first publication and the name of the copyright owner. For sound recordings, the notice comprises the year of first publication, the name of the owner and the letter "P" in a circle.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now
Information on Copyright Laws for Vocalist Music Demos

References

Resources

Related articles

Copyrighting a Poem

Copyright laws protect original artistic and literary works, including poems, from unauthorized reproduction or distribution. Copyright applies to any literary work from the moment that it is fixed in a tangible form. This means that if the poem exists only in your head, you cannot claim copyright. As soon as you write it down or record it in some other manner, such as by producing an audio recording, your poem is protected by copyright.

How to Copyright a Jingle

A jingle automatically qualifies for basic copyright protection the instant it is created and fixed in a tangible form. The copyright applies to the jingle lyrics, melody, musical composition, sound recordings and musical performances. Copyrights cover all original work of authorship created by a single creator or multiple creators. Jingles often require the collaboration of multiple creators, who potentially work for an advertising company or large corporation. The company owns the copyrights of a jingle created through the collaboration of its employees, unless otherwise negotiated.

How Do I Apply for Copyrights in Nevada?

Federal copyright law applies to all 50 states, and the process of registering a copyright is the same for Nevada residents and businesses as it is in other states. Copyright law derives from Title 17 of the United States Code and protects original works of authorship, including literary and musical works; dramatic works; pictorial and graphic works; sound recordings; and motion pictures and other audiovisual works. Copyright protection extends automatically when you fix a work in tangible form, such as by writing down or typing a book, drawing an image or taking a photograph. Formal registration is not a requirement, but it gives you a distinct evidentiary advantage if your copyright is challenged. Applying for a copyright can be done electronically via the eCO Online website, which is maintained by the United States Copyright Office.

Related articles

How to Get Copyrights

Copyright protects literary, artistic, musical and similar creative works from infringement by the unauthorized copying ...

Sound Recordings & Copyright Law

Section 102 of the U.S. Copyright Act includes sound recordings as a category of “original works of ...

How to Professionally Copyright Music

A copyright is an exclusive right that allows the creator of intellectual property, such as music, to control the use ...

How to Copyright Music & Lyrics

Songwriters and composers invest enormous amounts of time and creative energy into developing new musical works. ...

Browse by category