Registering a copyright may be the single most important task that a musician or musical group makes. We live in an age when even the all-might recording industry is unable to protect its material from theft. A fan thousands of miles away can hear your song on the internet and make it their own.
There are two common forms of copyright infringement that all serious musicians need to prevent. The first and most common form of copyright infringement is the illegal downloading and/or possession of your song. Musicians need to earn a living and you want to be sure that your material is being downloaded legally for a fee. Second, copyright infringement occurs when someone likes a song, "riff", or melody of yours and incorporates it into their own music.
What is a copyright and why is registering the copyright important?
An artist, musician, or musical group, are the owners and sole copyright holders of a unique work of art. As soon as you create a new song or work of art, copyright protection begins to attach to the work. This, however, may be inadequate protection. A copyright should be federally registered to ensure absolute protection from infringement.
By registering your copyright with the United States Copyright Office:
- You make clear when the work was created, and by whom it was created
- You are ensured that the Courts will hear your case (certain jurisdictions will not hear the lawsuit unless the copyright is registered)
- You are granted additional legal protections in the courtroom
- It is impossible to dispute when the unique work was created
Many musicians rely on "copyright by mail", in which the band mails a copy of the song or album to themselves in a sealed envelope, stamped by the post office with a date and time of delivery. For the reasons above, I would never recommend this method to a serious band. As indicated, in some circumstances registration is essential for the Courts to even hear your case. Imagine holding on to a "copyright by mail" envelope believing that you have a valid copyright only to find that the Court won't even listen to your case. In addition, a talented lawyer will have that evidence thrown out of Court. Either way, the legitimate artists and copyright holders have no evidence to support their case.
Federal registration of a copyright is the only way to ensure your protection. It is a small expense to pay considering the consequences of losing a copyright battle.
Call my office for a free consultation and we can discuss your options concerning copyright and trademark.