Cymphani Speaks On: Copyrights

The world today is so fast paced; especially when it comes to music. Everyday there is something new trending. If you've discovered a new favorite song released by a popular artist chances are their music is 100% protected, but what about the Independent Artist? If you're an Independent Artist and you haven't learned the ins and out What a Copyright is and How to copyright your music, this is for you!


What is a Copyright?

Music copyright designates legal ownership of a musical composition or sound recording. This ownership includes exclusive rights to redistribute and reproduce the work, as well as licensing rights that enable the copyright holder to earn royalties. (soundcharts.com)


This means that if you created the song it belongs to you. You own your music the moment you create it but in order to protect your music from "Copyright Infringement" you will want to Register your song with the US Copyright Office for a small fee. For more information about fees you can sign up for an account at https://www.copyright.gov/


When I first started creating music many people would tell me to make a cd and mail my music to myself to copyright. This was way before I knew anything about Music Business and Law. This method was called The "Poor Man's Copyright" But in 2019 the supreme court ruled that in order to take a Copyright Case to court you MUST register your music with the US Copyright Office first.


There are two types of music copyright

There are two types of music copyright:


  1. The composition — which is the music and lyrics

  2. The sound recording — which is a particular recorded version of that music and lyrics


Compositions are usually owned by songwriters and/or publishers. Sound recordings are usually owned by artists or labels.


Three reasons why it’s important to register your copyright:

  1. You can’t sue someone for infringement unless you’ve registered your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Once you DO register the copyright, you may be be entitled to $150,000 per infringement, plus legal fees if you win your suit.

  2. It’s a myth that simply paying someone means they cannot later claim any ownership of your copyright. If you don’t have a work-for-hire agreement in writing, other people (collaborators, producers, session players, etc.) could try to claim an ownership percentage.

  3. Under U.S. Copyright Law, two or more people that work together to create content can claim equal ownership shares by default, unless there is an agreement stating otherwise. So if you write MOST of the song, and someone helps you with the lyrics to a few lines, they could say their rights are equal to yours. Unless of course you put your ownership shares in writing upfront. (DIY Musician)


Once you register your copyright and receive confirmation from the US Copyright Office you will receive a certificate in the mail that you should file in your records for safe keeping. This way if you ever have to go to court to protect your intellectual property.


Copyrights can get very much in depth and there are many types of copyrights but what we have covered here is what will get you on the right track to legally protecting your music. This is one of many steps in the Music Registration Process that will get you closer to making money with your music if you're not already.