To begin with the basics of copyright law – An artist is the owner and sole copyright holder of his or her creation. Copyright protection begins to attach to the work of art the moment that it is created and/or published. This, however, may be inadequate protection.
By registering your copyright with the United States Copyright Office:
- You are making clear when your work was created;
- You are telling the world that this idea, song, image is your creation;
- You gain valuable legal protections in the courtroom that may be absent without a registered copyright;
- You are ensured that the Courts will hear your case;
- You will not have any difficulty presenting evidence as to when your work was created.
A lot of musicians ask me about the so-called “poor man’s copyright” in which the author of a work mails the work to himself in a sealed envelope to prove the time of creation. While there is some merit to this process, there are cases in which the material was not allowed into evidence for one reason or another. Instantly, the author’s entire case was lost. In some circumstances, registration is necessary in order to bring the suit (in other words, if you don’t hold a registered copyright, the courts won’t even hear your case). As such, I would not recommend that any serious musician rely on the “poor man’s copyright.”
In the age of the internet where a song can be heard and stolen from 3000 miles away, it is imperative that musicians protect their work. There are two examples of copyright infringement that all musicians want to prevent. The first is illegal downloading and possession of your material. The second example is where someone hears your song, lyrics, or melody and “incorporates” it into his or her “creation.”
Federal registration of a copyright is the only way to ensure your protection. It is both easy and inexpensive. Rest easy knowing that your work is fully protected and concentrate on what you do best – creating music.
Call my office for a free consultation and we can discuss your options concerning copyright and trademark.