How To: Basic Copyright Protection

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So you’re a songwriter and worship leader writing songs for your congregation, but you also want to share them with the wider Body of Christ. You want to serve the Church by sharing the great song ideas God has shared with you. You’d also like to share the music with other songwriters and worship leaders for feedback and critique, potentially crafting great songs in the process.

But there’s one catch, you feel like someone will steal your great song idea and make it the next Church hit and the work that you put into it will be for nothing?

Well, fret not!

Under US Copyright Law, the very second that you, the writer, make a tangible copy of that song, you have a copyright.

Tangible means something you can touch. That means that the second you write it down or sing/play it into a recording device, the copyright is yours. It’s as simple as that.

Hey, but what about the Library of Congress Copyright application? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do to “copyright” my music?

** Many people are under that impression. They believe that is the only way to legally and officially copyright music. There are some important rights that you get when you do register with the LOC, but the basic copyright isn’t one of them.

If, and when, you decide to record an album and distribute it to the masses, it’d be a good idea to register the song/recording with the LOC, but understand that it isn’t required to secure copyright.

If you write it down, it’s copyrighted. If you make a recording of it, it’s copyrighted. If it’s just an idea in your head and you share it with someone else, it is NOT copyrighted. So, make sure you’re making lead sheets, and/or recordings of your songs. That is basic copyright protection right there!

** If you plan to record an album and distribute it you NEED TO REGISTER YOUR COPYRIGHT with the Library of Congress for protection and distribution rights. This article isn’t advocating not registering with the LOC, just stating what a basic copyright is.

Sources: All You Need To Know About The Music Business Donald S. Passman (On Amazon)



is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church, where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community and at HighestPraise.com.

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