How to Protect Songs and Poems by Copyright

By Thomas King

Original songs and poems are protected by copyright the moment they are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. However, if you want to establish a public record of your copyright and be able to sue infringers for damages, you must register your creative works with the United States Copyright Office. You can register using the online system maintained by the Copyright Office, or you can submit a paper application. Note that songs and poems must be registered separately.

United States Copyright eCo System

Step 1

Navigate to the United States Copyright Office website (link in Resources) and click "eCo Login." On the next page, click "Continue to eCo."

Step 2

Enter your user ID or click "If you are a new user, click here to register" and fill out the registration form. After registering or typing your user ID, you will be redirected to the Electronic Copyright Office (eCo) website.

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Step 3

Click "Register a New Claim" in the left pane, then click "Complete an Application."

Step 4

Answer the questionnaire on the next page. You must provide information about the work you want to register. For example, you’ll need to specify the type of work, title, author, claimant and publication information. When you are finished, submit the form and you'll be prompted to make a payment to cover filing fees using the Pay.gov system. Acceptable forms of payment include credit card and e-check. After your payment has been processed, a "Payment Successful" screen appears.

Step 5

Click "Next" in the upper right corner of the “Payment Successful” screen.

Step 6

Click "Upload Deposit" and "Browse." Select the file(s) you want to upload, such as MP3 files or PDFs. The system allows only 60 minutes of upload time, so if your file is too large to upload in that time, you will need to mail a hard copy to the Copyright Office. To do this, return to the "Payment Successful" screen, click "Send by Mail," click "Shipping Slip" and print out the shipping slip. Be sure to attach the shipping slip directly to each work or set of works that you submit.

Paper Application

Step 1

Navigate to the United States Copyright Office website. (link in Resources).

Step 2

Click "Forms" at the top of the website.

Step 3

Click "Form TX" to access the application to register poems, or click "Form SR" to access the application to register songs.

Step 4

Print out the application and fill it in using a black ink pen. The first page of the form provides line-by-line instructions.

Step 5

Attach a "deposit" – meaning a copy of the work – to the application. The deposit must represent the entire work; for example, a CD of all the songs or a book of all the poems. If the work has not been published, you must attach one copy. If the work has been previously published, attach two copies. In addition to the deposit, attach a check for the filing fees.

Step 6

Mail the application, deposit and payment to the address listed at the bottom of the application.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now
How to Copyright a Documentary

References

Resources

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How to Get My Poem Copyright Protected

Most written works in the United States, including poetry, are automatically copyrighted as soon as they are created. But registering your poem with the U.S. Copyright Office may be important to protecting your copyright. You have to register before you can sue someone for copyright violation, and registering will help you prove your case. In addition, you can generally recover attorney fees and statutory damages only if you registered your copyright before the violation occurred. "Statutory damages" let you recover money from someone who violates your copyright, without making you prove that the violation harmed you economically. If you think there's a chance that someone will copy your poem without permission, copyright registration is probably a good idea. You can register your poem electronically or by mail. The U.S. Copyright Office recommends electronic registration because it is cheaper and faster.

How to Register My LLC Copyright

Copyright is the exclusive right to copy, distribute or adapt a creative work. This right can belong to the artist who created the work, the company that commissioned the work, or the buyer or licensee of the rights to a work. The person or entity that caused the work to be created automatically gains the copyright to it the moment the work is committed to a fixed medium. However, it is only upon registering the work with the U.S. Copyright Office that the rights holder gains the ability to sue another party for infringement.

How to Copyright a Saying

Registering with the United States Copyright Office gives you legal protection against unauthorized use and duplication, but you can't copyright a saying on its own. However, you can register a body of work containing the saying for legal protection. For example, if the saying is part of a story, you can copyright the story containing the phrase. Your saying must not be a phrase used in everyday conversation. The U.S. Copyright Office processes copyright registration online at its official website.

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