How to Copyright Music

Image of a man writing music while holding a guitar

Copyright Laws and Protecting Your Music

No matter how you record them, your song's music and lyrics are protected by copyright. However, without your song being registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, it can leave you vulnerable to someone else infringing on your copyright, and you'll leave your right to sue for infringement on the table. Here are some steps on how to ensure that your artistic creations are protected by law.

Step 1: Know The Copyright Laws

Under copyright laws, you can copyright music, lyrics, or both. You are also permitted to copyright a new song or new version or arrangement of an existing song. However, the song must be your original work, created by you, and shown to have a minimal amount of creativity. Chord progressions or song titles are not covered under copyright law. If you make an audio recording, you can copyright the sound recording with the copyright to the song itself.

Step 2: Record Your Song

The Copyright Act states that a work is fixed in a "tangible medium" of expression, which means you must record your song somehow, either in written form, taped, or a digital recording.

Step 3: Register with the U.S. Copyright Office

While you can register a copyright by mail, it's simple and less expensive to register your copyright online.

Step 4: Complete the Copyright Registration Application

Once you've completed the registration process, you can now fill out the application. It's critical to follow the instructions to ensure your registration information is entered correctly to avoid delays in processing your application.

Step 5: Pay the Registration Fee

When registering your copyright registration, there will be a fee. Fees vary for different types of copyright registrations. You can find a list of copyright fees on their website.

Step 6: Submit a Copy of Your Song

You can submit a copy of your song via mail by paper form or audio recording, or a digital upload. Once your music has been submitted, your registration is ready to be processed. The registration process via digital upload can take 3 to 5 months to complete. If you apply by mail, it could take up to 10 months for processing.

Need Assistance with Music Copyright? We Can Help.

While it's possible to copyright music on your own, it can be a complicated process when it's challenging to understand copyright laws. Let us help you sort through the red tape and handle all your music copyright needs. Our entertainment lawyers at Ford & Friedman are skilled negotiators and litigators committed to advocating for our client's rights.

Contact Ford & Friedman for legal advice from our entertainment and media attorneys by calling (702) 904-9898.

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