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How to copyright music
How to Copyright Music for the Beginner
For those wondering how to copyright music the answer can be both long and short. The first thing to remember is that most people are confused about exactly what it means to actually copyright music. Music is actually copyrighted as soon as it is presented in a fixed form. It doesn't really matter whether that fixed form is as written sheet music or as a recording.
Most people are looking for solid legal protection and while a copyright is good to have, it is essentially worthless unless you've actually gone to the effort of also registering your copyright. Rather than asking 'how to copyright music', perhaps the better question would be 'what do I do now that I've copyrighted my music?'
It doesn't really matter what you call it unless you're moving around in legal or industry circles I suppose, but I've always felt that it's a good idea to have a clue about the process in which you are embarking. Now that we've answered how to copyright music, it's time to move on to the real issue, which is registering your copyright. Music is registered through the U. S. Copyright Office. You will need to fill out an application, pay a fee, and provide a copy of your music. As far as government dealings go, this is one of the least painful. Even the fee is marginal when you consider your 'hopeful' future profits and royalties.
All that aside, there is something that is massively satisfying about knowing how to copyright music and having your first piece of music registered. Music is an art form and the ability to write music is nothing insignificant. It is a real talent that is actually quite rare. Many popular musicians today use music that has been written by others either in addition to or rather than music that they have written themselves. Even if you aren't a talented performer, it doesn't mean that your music will never be seen or heard or that you should not bother learning how to copyright music. You just might find that you are more in demand for your particular talents than you would have ever dreamed possible.
The big thing to remember though is not to sit around wondering how to copyright music but to get out there and go about the process of creating and making more wonderful music to share with the world. It takes all kinds of music to keep this world turning and there is someone out there that is waiting to hear the music that you create. The process of how to copyright music is completely free. The process of registering your copyright is worth every penny you will spend. It is important to protect your music now more than ever with piracy and widespread downloading providing significant reductions in profits for everyone involved.
The music industry is also a very fickle industry and you need to maximize your profit potential and usefulness. Once you understand how to copyright music, you need to make sure every piece of music you have has been copyrighted, then you need to go through your music and systematically register each and every piece as well. Even if you must do one piece at a time until you manage to register the copyright on them all, it is much better to be safe than sorry should you ever go to trial in a copyright infringement case. Also remember to pay it forward and support up and coming musicians by sharing the information of how to copyright music and how to register copyrights as well.
Copyright Music Form The Copyright Music Form is your First Step to Protecting your Work Many confuse a copyright music form with an actual copyright. The form is actually what you get from the U. S. Copyright Office when you are ready to register your copyright. It is highly recommended that everyone who writes a piece of music take the time and register their copyright. It is also important to understand that once you've either written or recorded your original music, it is actually copyrighted. In other words you do not actually need to fill out any type of copyright music form in order to have your music copyrighted. While registering is not the act of copyrighting your work it is very necessary if you plan to file suit for copyright infringement. It is also better to fill out the copyright music form they offer earlier in the life of your music rather than later as the timing of the registration of your copyright can have an impact on the actual awards you can receive should you win your lawsuit. There is also something quite satisfying about having your musical works registered with the copyright office. I can't explain the feeling as it will be different for everyone but if you've written music, you really should see for yourself. You can find the copyright music form from the U. S. Copyright Office online quite easily. There is more involved than simply filling out the paperwork in order to register your copyright. You must also pay a fee, the actual fee changes so you should make sure you are aware of what the current fee is before sending in your work. An insufficient fee can result in delays. You also must send an actual copy of the music you are registering the copyright on. Your copy may either be the written or recorded music you wish to register but must include everything you wish the registration to cover. When filling out the copyright music form it is important to provide as many accurate details as possible. While your registration is active the day your application is received you may not actually receive your certificate for several months. Really and truly, as far as government agencies go, this is one of the easier ones to deal with as far as red tape. The procedure in addition to the copyright music form is straight forward and not designed in a manner that would be too easily confusing. The copyright music form is only one step in the process of registering your music's copyright. While it is an important step if you forget the other steps there will be delays in the registration process. Read the form completely before filling it out and if you are printing your form from the computer, I highly recommend printing more than one copyright music form to insure that you have extras if you make a mistake and in order to register your future musical copyrights. Your first copyright registration will be the most nerve wracking. This makes perfect sense when you consider that trying anything new requires some degree of 'anticipation'. It is also likely to be your most thrilling. Even in this particular piece of music ends up being the worst piece you've ever written (most of our first endeavors are our worst) there is a lot to be said about the fact that you've actually taken the steps to insure your future is a great feeling. If your first piece of music sells and is someday published that is wonderful. If not, you are still ready for the next piece and have gone through the process of filling out a music copyright form before so you know what to expect.
US copyright law U.S. Copyright Law Covers Artistic Expression and Creative and Intellectual Works The US Copyright Law grants rights to individuals for the works they create. The US Copyright Act of 1790 has changed over the years. The current basis of US copyright law is based on the Copyright Act of 1976. US copyright law is relatively automatic. Once someone has an idea and produces it in tangible form, the creator is the copyright holder and has the authority to enforce his exclusivity to it. In other words, the person is the owner of the creation. It is not necessary that a person register their work. However, it is recommended and it can serve as evidence if someone ever violates a copyright. It is interesting to note that when an employer hires an employee to produce a work that the copyright is given to the employer. Violations of US Copyright Law are generally enforced in a civil court setting. However, there could also be criminal sanctions brought against someone who violates US copyright law. Someone that is in serious violation of US Copyright Law such as counterfeiting can find themselves on the inside of prison looking out. People need to understand that the copyright symbol is not a requirement. Someone may have a copyright, yet their work may not have a copyright notice or symbol. US Copyright Law covers a wide range of things that are derived from artistic expression, intellectual or creative work. This includes things such as literary works, music, drawings, photographs, software, movies, choreographic works such as ballets and plays, poems, paintings and more. The law covers the form of expression, not the concept, facts or the actual idea of the work. This means that someone can use another person’s idea or concept and produce their own take on it. However, copying another person’s work is a violation. It should be noted that some things may not be copyrighted but they may be protected by a patent or trademark. Individuals who have a copyright on a particular piece of work can do with it what they will. They may choose to copy it and sell it. They may display their work or perform it in public and charge admission, or they can assign or sell the work to someone else. Individuals who have a copyright can also choose to do nothing with their work, if that is their desire. However, if someone comes along and takes the work and tries to use it in some way, that person is still in violation of the owner’s copyright. Copyrights cover published and unpublished work. Anyone who is in the creative arts arena should be very careful that they do not violate US Copyright Law. For that matter, anyone who is a fan of the creative arts should make sure they are not in violation of a copyright. Simple things like uploading, downloading and sharing music or movie files can result in serious charges and fines being brought against them. With the popularity of the Internet and file sharing software there many copyrights are currently being violated. Copyright owners are starting to take a stand against them and are hunting down the perpetrators. Be careful that you are not overstepping your boundaries and violating someone’s copyright law.
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