Just so everyone's clear: This article is NOT ABOUT REGISTERING YOUR COPYRIGHT with the Library of Congress. It is NOT ABOUT A POOR MAN'S COPYRIGHT.
It IS about the definition of a BASIC COPYRIGHT and when that copyright begins.
Bottom line: You NEED to REGISTER your copyright with the Library of Congress if you plan on distributing your song to the public.
However, this article is about what the basic copyright is, when it begins, and what it is not.
I didn't write it to start an argument over the merits of poor man's copyright or the REGISTRATION of copyright with the LOC.
That being said, the next installment will be about the REGISTRATION process with the LOC.
Directly from the copyright office website:
I’ve heard about a “poor man’s copyright.” What is it?
The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.
In other words, feel free to follow your own council if you like.
if that remark was directed to me, then I'm not sure if you understood what I said.
Let me try it a different way....sending yourself a tape is helpful in establishing that you owned the song on that date, yes, but it is not going to help you get punitive damages if someone were to take you song.
You can sue someone for stealing your song even without having it registered in LOC...but you can only sue for whatever they made on it as opposed to punitive damages of future earnings and other losses.
A song is copyrighted when it is written. Period. You have protection as long as you can prove you owned it before someone else did. However, you can not sue for punitive damages without registration with LOC.
It used to be $20 per song, now it's $40. Yes, you can make a compilation of your catalogue but the legalese says that you must also perform every song in that order for it to be legal protection. You can go back and fill out the separate "clarification" form for every part of that compilation (I forget the actual number of that form) and make each title a separate song again but then you have to pay a fee of $40 for that form, so basically you could legally protect every song you have for $80.
If I were to register every song I have with LOC, it would be more than I make in 2 years, so I only register the ones that I'm planning to record. And even then, I only get around to it when it comes time for the studio.
I'm only mentioning this because it sounded like some people here were afraid to share their ideas with each other.
I'm not getting involved nor am I listening to these songs because I don't want someone to come back later and say that I stole their song...but I'm not worried about anyone trying to take one of mine. I've got plenty and can always write more.
I have been ripped off by a label/publisher a few times (who filed my copyright for me and changed the percentages) and am probably filing suit in the next month on them...but, again, I'm not worried about it happening with other songwriters, especially here.
what? me worry?
Aww poo. I earnestly respect and request your feedback on MY songs! Please pop in and give them a listen and feedback!I'm not getting involved nor am I listening to these songs because I don't want someone to come back later and say that I stole their song...but I'm not worried about anyone trying to take one of mine. I've got plenty and can always write more.
It's only 35 dollars and you can do the form online now, the most it takes is 1 hour to do the forms and mail them 2 copies of the recordings.