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Cheapest way to copyright your songs

Genie 14 Oct 10 - 04:13 PM
olddude 14 Oct 10 - 04:48 PM
Genie 14 Oct 10 - 05:59 PM
Richard Bridge 14 Oct 10 - 06:40 PM
Richie Black (misused acct, bad email) 14 Oct 10 - 06:51 PM
olddude 14 Oct 10 - 06:56 PM
Genie 14 Oct 10 - 06:57 PM
Amos 14 Oct 10 - 07:16 PM
Rapparee 14 Oct 10 - 07:22 PM
Genie 14 Oct 10 - 07:23 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Oct 10 - 08:35 PM
frogprince 14 Oct 10 - 08:45 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Oct 10 - 08:50 PM
Suffet 14 Oct 10 - 09:34 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Oct 10 - 10:29 PM
Genie 15 Oct 10 - 12:24 AM
Genie 15 Oct 10 - 12:26 AM
Ebbie 15 Oct 10 - 01:21 AM
Genie 15 Oct 10 - 02:17 AM
Richard Bridge 15 Oct 10 - 02:58 AM
pavane 15 Oct 10 - 04:35 AM
Suffet 15 Oct 10 - 11:19 AM
Genie 15 Oct 10 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,Songbob 15 Oct 10 - 04:26 PM
Genie 15 Oct 10 - 04:53 PM
Slag 15 Oct 10 - 05:24 PM
Genie 15 Oct 10 - 06:09 PM
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Subject: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Genie
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 04:13 PM

There are so many, sometimes very long, copyright-related threads that I wanted to draw attention to this question and its answers separately.

It seems the US Copyright application fees, like most everything else besides high-tech gadgets, have escalated a lot over the past few decades. (That'll teach me to procrastinate!)

Now it seems -- if my trying to wade through the mass of legal documents at the Library Of Congress Copyright Office site has yielded any comprehension -- that it can cost $35 to $65 per submission.   So if you've written, say, 100 songs, it could cost you $350 to $650 just to register the copyrights on them if you apply for registration of each copyright separately.

I think you can submit an album of songs as a single work and specify that each song (lyrics and melody within) are your own copyright protected work. (I think that's form PA.)   But if you apply online (which has cheaper fees), there's a time limit on uploads, so it could be hard to register more than 10 or so songs as a single "album."


I'm wondering if you could put all your songs in one "songbook" as sheet music (melodies and lyrics) and thus register the copyrights on all the included songs simultaneously, for one single fee, even if the "songbook" included 100 songs.

I think you could later register selected songs individually, especially the ones most likely to be used by others, but it would be nice to have all your works' copyrights officially registered without paying $35 and up for each one.

Anyone have experience with or knowledge about this?

Genie


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: olddude
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 04:48 PM

Genie
you can copyright a whole CD that contains all of your songs. with the LIBrary of Congress Another way that is easier that will hold up is register them with BMI, it is free. The date and time and all the good stuff is there ... That will hold up in court .. all you need to prove is your had it first ...


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Genie
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 05:59 PM

Ah, there's the rub, dude. "Proving" in court that you did something tends to involve lawyers and legal fees, which can be very expensive.

As I understand it, if you pass out a song sheet in a song circle and it has you listed as the songwriter and the "©" (copyright) symbol and date on it, that constituted "publishing" your song. So does putting the song on a CD or tape along with the acknowledgment of your authorship.   But you still might have to hire a lawyer or pay court fees to prove, legally, that those "publications" occurred at a given date. And/or you might have to round up witnesses who could and would attest to having seen the song sheets or heard you sing the song in a given year. That's why I think it's a good idea to register your works with the Library of Congress, though paying $35 per song is a high price to pay for such security for songs that aren't likely to earn you much money.

But if I understand you correctly, you could put all of your works - poems, songs, drawings, even pictures on a single data CD and submit it as "The Collected Works of [Insert name]" and register it all for a single fee. Is that right?


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 06:40 PM

Emigrate. Then the twisted US system cannot cut down your Berne Convention rights.


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Richie Black (misused acct, bad email)
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 06:51 PM

Do what I did. Post your original hand written lyrics to yourself using registered Special Delivery post. Never open the envelope.

If the need ever arises, give the dated envelope to your solicitor and it can be opened in court by a judge.


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: olddude
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 06:56 PM

Genie, put it all on a CD and register it .. no need to do one at a time ok .. that works


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Genie
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 06:57 PM

Richie, that solution still leaves you needing to deal with the courts, should anyone try to usurp your copyright. If you register with the Library Of Congress, before anyone else tries to claim your work, that avoids a lot of that cost and hassle.

I do think there are also some organizations such as SongBank (if I remember the name right) that you can join and submit your songs and they will go to bat for you in case of a copyright dispute.

But basically what I'm asking in this thread is
"What is the cheapest way to OFFICIALLY register your copyrights on a number of works with the US Copyright office?"

(And moving to the UK, whatever its benefits, would not be cheap. : D )


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Amos
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 07:16 PM

Just out of curiosity, have you ever had a work usurped by someone?


A


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Rapparee
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 07:22 PM

My wife is an attorney who has been specializing in intellectual property law for the last 20 or so years.

Her advice: Assertion of copyright (by stating such on the published material ["Copyright 1990 by Joseph A. Smith" or by using the circle-C] establishes your ownership of the copyright. No need to register it. You can even put on the month and day if you wish. Get a copy notarized and put it in a safe place.


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Genie
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 07:23 PM

It has happened to others. Not just that they don't get royalties, but - more to the point - they have been legally prevented from performing and recording their own melodies, lyrics, etc.

Like most of us, I have no way of knowing if anyone has 'borrowed' all or parts of the melody or lyrics to a song I've written, and perhaps claimed copyright on it. We probably wouldn't know that unless or until some sort of conflict arose.   But the issue of whether and why one should register copyrights is beside the point of this thread. (We have scads of threads on issues like that already.)   I hope we can keep this thread discussion focused on the question of the most affordable, most convenient way to officially register your legal copyrights.


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 08:35 PM

Genie, You probably have read this; ignore if you have. But I looked to satisfy my own curiosity.
U. S. Copyright- http://www.copyright.gov

The "Frequently asked questions" part of the Copyright website says:
"What is the registration fee?
"If you file online using eCO eService, the fee is $35 per application. If you file using Form CO, the fee is $50 per application. Generally each work requires a separate application. ...."
(Mailed copy not returned)
Credit cards OK using eCO Service.
Registration by eCO- an electronic copy OK, but the Library of Congress requires a hard copy.

The 'shortcut" methods, no registration, suggested above can lead to trouble, if someone other than yourself wishes to use or record your songs.


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: frogprince
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 08:45 PM

I registered a songbook of about a dozen songs by mail a few years ago. The cost was $30 or $35.


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 08:50 PM

Fees are up, Frogprince. (What isn't?)

Was the songbook printed? I know this method is possible, but what are the 'mechanics' or hoops as of this date?


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Suffet
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 09:34 PM

Greetings:

In the USA you can register a collection of songs as a single work for the same $35 as just one song. My advice is that you name your collection after one of your songs plus the words "and Other Songs." Then you list each individual song as an alternate title. For example, here is a collection of five songs:

Title: Jonah From Arizona and Other Songs

Alternate titles:
Jonah From Arizona
Broken in Hoboken
Rupert Murdoch's Rag
Good Grief, It's Daddy!
The Floozie's Blues


Net cost: $7 per song. Make it collection of 10 songs, and the cost goes down to $3.50 per song.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 10:29 PM

I see that one may ask questions.
http://www.copyright.gov/help/general-form.html

Putting them together would save a bundle. But be sure and find out. Congress last revised in 2004. See Appendices C, D, and E.


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 12:24 AM

Q, your first post doesn't really address my question, which was about including many different "works" in a single submission, as a "book" or anthology (or maybe a CD).


It sure would save a bundle if you could register the copyrights on dozens of poems, songs, short stories, recordings, etc., all for a single fee. I hope that is allowable.


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 12:26 AM

Suffet, that sounds like a good suggestion. But I'm wondering how it works, logistically, if one of your songs (e.g. a slow ballad) is listed as an "alternative title" to a very different song (e.g., a foot-stomping blues or a reggae song).


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Ebbie
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 01:21 AM

I don't understand ignoring the answers given by both OldDude and Rapaire.


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 02:17 AM

I didn't think anyone was ignoring their posts, Ebbie. I responded to Old Dude's points - acknowledging the full CD suggestion as a good one and pointing out the drawbacks to the non-registration alternatives suggested by both him and Rap.

Old Dude's other suggestion, and Raps, are beside the point of this thread.
I'm not asking whether or why you should officially register your copyrights - just what's the most efficient and cheapest way to do it. : D


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 02:58 AM

Rapaire, what your wife says is technically correct but it leaves out the necessity to register before you can bring US proceedings on the copyright, the reduction in damages for the period before registration, and the restriction on claiming statutory costs for a period before registration. Non-US residents who are also non US citizens are somewhat protected from these attempts to blindside the US's Berne Convention obligations.


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: pavane
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 04:35 AM

I presume the "alternate title" (US usage) ruse it to ensure that it is indexed under all the alternative (UK) titles.


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Suffet
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 11:19 AM

Greetings:

I do not conside what I do tobe a "ruse," just a "technique." But yes, I do it so each song in the collection gets indexed by the US Copyright Office. It doesn't really matter if the songs are at all similar. All that matters is that they all have the same author claiming the same type of authorship (ie. music, lyrics, or both).

Here is one real example of a copyright registered August 16, 2006, US Copyright Office Registration Nuo. PAu3-051-310:

Title of Work:
Union Warriors and Other Songs

Alternative Titles:
Union Warriors
I've Been Up On the Mountain
Troubled Waters Rising
Can You Hear That Steam Whistle Blow?


The process has since been simplified, so you can now list the individual songs as what the Copyright Office calls "Contents Titles." If I were registering the claim today, I would do as follows:

Title of Work:
Union Warriors and Other Songs

Contents Titles:
Union Warriors
I've Been Up On the Mountain
Troubled Waters Rising
Can You Hear That Steam Whistle Blow?


I am sure, however, that the net effect would be the same, meaning that I would get to register four copyrights for the price of one.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 04:00 PM

Thanks, Steve. That's very helpful information. As are the cautions you mentioned, Richard.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 04:26 PM

Registration of Copyright is the best way to provide protection. Copyright a whole book of 'em for one fee, and then, if asked by someone to allow use of one song, register that single song for the fee, again. The reason for separating a song is that it makes searching easier, and if someone wants to use your song, charge them for the extra work to copyright it.

DO NOT RELY ON THE "MAIL A SEALED PACKAGE/ENVELOPE" SYSTEM. All it takes is one sleight-of-hand magician to show that whatever you put into that envelope may not have been what you claim it is. If it comes to a jury, and your opponent can show that you may have been able to substitute anything in that package you brought in to show your ownership, and blam! The jury votes against you and your song is gone. Don't ever let it get as far as a courtroom! It's just too chancey.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 04:53 PM

Not just too chancey, Bob, too COSTLY too (both in time and money).

That's very good advice - to register a slew of songs, poems, etc. as a "book" for one fee and then, if and when needed, register individual works separately too.


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Slag
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 05:24 PM

"No copy shall be made of this work in part or in whole without the written consent of the author(s). " In book form I know you can exempt limited excerpts for academic or promotional puposes or for media news releases. I believe similar verbiage covers performance for renumeration (money) or even for charity or purely entertainment for large groups. Believe it or not, these questions come up often concerning church music, youth gatherings and the like.

My question is, with such verbiage as above and the use of asserted copyright would this cover a collection of songs without naming each song seperately, the title of each song appearing with the music and lyrics?

Also, would something as vague as listing chords above the lyrics qualify for copyright protection?


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Subject: RE: Cheapest way to copyright your songs
From: Genie
Date: 15 Oct 10 - 06:09 PM

I'm sure you can't copyright protect a chord sequence - especially a fairly common one. I guess if you're registering a song and can't send a MIDI or sheet music or an mp3, you could count the lyric/chord sheet, as a whole, as a "song" and copyright protect that much. But it woudn't be protecting your tune.


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