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It's Copyright — Not Copywrite!

To understand the concept of a song copyright, it's important to first understand what the term actually means.

The term "copyright" is often misunderstood. For instance, type in "How to copywrite songs" in Google and you'll get lots of results containing the word "copywrite."

This illustrates the problem. The correct phrase isn't How to copywrite songs, the correct phrase is How to copyright songs. The word is spelled copyright NOT "copywrite."

Obviously, if these so-called "information" sources can't even spell the word correctly, they probably can't be counted on for advice.

How To Copyright Your Songs: A Practical View Of Copyrights

Songwriters often worry their songs will be stolen. Sometimes they are so worried, they don't show people their songs, submit songs to publishers or enter song contests.

At some point in the songwriting process, this kind of reluctant concern becomes counterproductive — even a bit paranoid.

Songwriters who take time to understand basic copyright law usually come to this conclusion: There is no reason to miss opportunities in the music business out of fear that someone will steal your songs.


When it comes to copyright protection, the main thing to remember is this: The revised Copyright Law of 1976 states that a songwriter legally owns the copyright to his/her song the moment the song is written.

All you need to do to establish a legal copyright is affix a copyright notice on your recording or lyrics. The term "affix" simply means you write your name and the year the song was written next to the copyright symbol.

The format looks like this: YOUR NAME 2011

That's all there is to it. In fact, it's not even necessary to include a copyright notice on subsequent recordings. The writer still has copyright protection.

Practical copyright Usage

Because copyright law provides clear protections at the time of creation, experienced songwriters often wait to file formal copyrights (with the U.S. Office of Copyrights) until their songs are polished, rewritten, completed and ready to be published or released commercially.

When a song is completed and ready to show, it's also ready to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

US Copyright Office

How to Order Copyright Forms

To order copyright forms from the U.S. Copyright Office, call the Federal Information Office toll-free at 1-800-688-9889

To ask specific questions about the copyright process, call the Copyright Office at 202-707-5959 or 202 707-9100. (These numbers are not toll-free).

Online you can visit the U.S. Copyright Office website to download the appropriate copyright form.

Form PA: For published or unpublished works.
Form SR: For sound recordings.

Instructions are provided at the website. The PA Form is used for copyrighting songs. The SR Form is used for copyrighting sound recordings.

Money-Saving Tip: The copyright registration fee (currently $45) covers either one song OR an entire collection of songs. So instead of copyrighting each song separately, you can save money by copyrighting many songs at the same time and registering "Collections" of your songs. For example: "10 Songs by (Your Name) 2012."

{Note: You cannot copyright an idea or a song title. Anyone can write a song about love or happiness or a lost dog. They just can't write the same song — lyric or melody.}

*Note: This article on copyrights is presented as practical information, not legal advice.



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