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Copyright 101...before you ask, or POST, please take a look!


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Quote Originally Posted by thefyn

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How do I copyright a compilation CD with 14 different artists on it? HCAF is putting out a metal CD recorded by forumites to send to A&R, radio, magazines etc etc.

 

I would suggest that each artist secure their own Copyright for their materials.
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Hi Guys,

Good advice.....someone here knows what they're talking about, but I thought maybe I could elaborate. A song if officially copyrighted (NOT COPYWRITTEN....sorry, pet peeve) when it's in tangible form. In other words, when you can hold it in your hand. We register or copyrights so we have document we can take to court in the event of a claim dispute. Mailing it to yourself is very weak.

As a songwriter, there are two MAJOR (not only) types of royalties available to you in the US--Mechanical and performance. Record companies are required to pay the Statutory Mechanical Rate (currently 9.1 cents per song) to the writer and publisher for each record they make. If you're signed to the label, they'd like to negotiate this. It's now called a "controlled composition", meaning that as the writer, you control its use. Song royalties, by the way are always divided into two chunks...writer and publisher. You are by default the publisher of your songs unless you choose to assign those rights to someone else. The other big royalty available to you is performance. This is what you earn when your song is performed at a public venue. To get this, you must join a performing rights organization. We have three in the US.....ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. You can join ASCAP or BMI anytime...SESAC is a little more involved. I lean towards ASCAP....its the oldest and their payment formula makes more sense to me. Your PRO is now licensed to collect royalties on your behalf. The really cool thing is that no matter who records or performs the great song you wrote, these both go to you! Cool, huh?

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I just don't want him to prevent the three of us from playing the song in whatever form we want, cause that wouldn't be fair.

 

I'm pretty sure he can not keep you from playing any of the songs you co-wrote, and in fact, if you recorded them and released the CD or made downloads available, he can't keep anyone from playing them or from recording them as long as the writers are paid a mechanical royalty. You're worried about nothing.
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I don't know why there is so much confusion and wrong information out there on copyrighting. It's a relatively simple process, much easier than Income Tax forms.

First off, you need the right form. Don't use Form SR unless you are copyrighting the ACUTUAL recording itself, in other words the araingment, etc....

You need form PA to copyright the actual song (lyrics, melody). Just record as many as will fit on a CD/DVD, fill out the forms carefully (they are legal documents), and send them in with the recordings and a $35.00 money order, until after August 1, 2009, when the fees go up to $65.00. They will send you a confirmation in the mail. That's all there is to it.

Do not pay anyone for forms, or to copyright your music for you. The forms are free, and can be downloaded online from the Copyright Offices website. They also have extensive instructions and FAQs to help you, along with many other resources.

A copyright will not protect your song from being stolen, unless you have a lot of money to wage a decades long lawsuit. If a big publisher want's your song, they are going to get it. They have more money than you. I have had several stolen over the years, but I don't mind. I got lots of others. The copyright is just proof that you registered it on a certain date, if and when you ever get in front of a judge. In my cases, it was just easier to settle with them for a fee and be done with it. No lawyers, or court briefs. They got the song, and I got SOME money, as opposed to getting nothing by pursuing a lawsuit. For them, it was chump change just to make it go away. For me, it was paying off my mortgage, or car. I was OK with it.

But it is still better to have the copyrights, especially if you ever intend to have another company publish it. No legitimate publisher will touch your work unless it is copyrighted, in your name. Also, copyrights are assignable, and can be passed down to your children, grandchildren, etc...

BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, and Harry Fox are licensing agencies, which have nothing to do with copyrights. You can't register anything with them unless you already have it copyrighted. All registering with them does is allow them to collect royalties on your behalf, for the use of your work (which you will see little, if any of). I don't want to get started on this subject because it is a major sore-spot with me. I consider the entire royalty collection and distribution system crooked. It's nothing more than legalized, organized crime.

I believe the internet will save us all, as long as we keep the government and the alphabet soup-licensing agencies out of it (like RMA, etc...). It's the best thing to happen to creative artists since electronic keyboards....

Keep on giggin!!!

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My band needs to copyright some songs but we're wondering about how to fill out the 'date published' question.
One of the songs was published in 2006 but the others are all from this year. SHould we say the album was 'published' in 2006 so that the older song is covered or 2009 when the majority of the songs were published? Also, if something happened down the line and we found ourselves in a court battle for instance, could our copyright registration be made non-valid based on the fact that not all songs from the album were published at our given publishing date?

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please define what you mean by 'published'.
If you had a publishing agreement for a song in 2006, then you must have had a copyright filed. If you mean you released the song on a CD or your website, but you had not filed for a copyright, that is different.
In this particular case, I would apply the 2009 date to all if you didn't have a copyright, as the odds are no one has tried to steal the song you put out in 2006.

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yes, I mean we had the song on our web site in 2006 but didn't register a copyright for it. You'd go with the 2009 publishing date for sure then?

What do you know about copyrighting the visual(artwork) material when submitting a cd of songs to register. Is the artwork covered as well?

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dupedd, the album you're releasing has a publish date of 2009. The one song will have a publish date of 2006. If you register the album as a single work, you will be asked for the publication date on each song as you add it to the "case." Just put in the correct date. Fudging numbers will screw things up for you.

As for the effect, registering the 2006 song this late may prevent you from receiving money damages on that one song if you have to sue someone, but you're in worse shape if you don't register because you can't sue unless you own a valid copyright. You should still be able to get an injunction preventing someone from continuing to infringe (i.e. "rip you off").

To answer your question about a court battle, your copyright should not be invalidated by putting the 2006 on a 2009 album. But if you don't tell the truth in the application you DEFINITELY run the risk of it being held invalid.

More of my ramblings on the subject here: Registering Copyrights for My Band


If you aren't clear on any of this, I'd suggest sitting down with a copyright lawyer.

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I just wanted to ask anyone familiar with copyright law if a copyright needs to be completely processed and issues by the Copyright Office before the artist outplaces music to music publishers, online libraries, or distribution services to be protected. In my understanding, the copyright is in effect upon date of receipt of the application and recorded material by the Copyright Office.

I'm asking because I have waited almost a year for a non-online copyright application and about 6 months for an Eco filed copyright. Neither are processed yet and I'm wanting to get the music out there.

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Quote Originally Posted by mgv1 View Post
I just wanted to ask anyone familiar with copyright law if a copyright needs to be completely processed and issues by the Copyright Office before the artist outplaces music to music publishers, online libraries, or distribution services to be protected. In my understanding, the copyright is in effect upon date of receipt of the application and recorded material by the Copyright Office.

I'm asking because I have waited almost a year for a non-online copyright application and about 6 months for an Eco filed copyright. Neither are processed yet and I'm wanting to get the music out there.
Well, the copyright exists as soon as the work is in tangible form (written or recorded). Publishers want to ensure there are no issues, and want to see that a copyright has been properly registered. The only way to satisfy them is with the registration.
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Hey,

I am trying to find out when/how/if a band's name can be copyrighted. For example i have a band with a cool name and i dont want someone to steal it haha. I don't think the name is in use by another band, at least not at the level of touring and releasing albums. At which point (over a period of time does a band's name become their own? Does it matter if two bands have the same name?

Any help would be awesome.

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Quote Originally Posted by turdadactyl View Post
I'm a regular in the drum forum. I posted a link to a very thorough article I wrote on how to register your copyrights in your music. The guys suggested I post it here too.

So, here you go: Tutorial on Registering Copyrights for your Music

Hope somebody finds it helpful.
Excellent article. Anyone looking to register a copyright of their music should read this article (3 parts). It's by far the best one I've read to date.
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Quote Originally Posted by Sabo View Post
Hey,

I am trying to find out when/how/if a band's name can be copyrighted. For example i have a band with a cool name and i dont want someone to steal it haha. I don't think the name is in use by another band, at least not at the level of touring and releasing albums. At which point (over a period of time does a band's name become their own? Does it matter if two bands have the same name?

Any help would be awesome.
You don't copyright a band name and/or logo; you trademark it.
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Quote Originally Posted by Sabo View Post
Hey,

I am trying to find out when/how/if a band's name can be copyrighted. For example i have a band with a cool name and i dont want someone to steal it haha. I don't think the name is in use by another band, at least not at the level of touring and releasing albums. At which point (over a period of time does a band's name become their own? Does it matter if two bands have the same name?

Any help would be awesome.
You want to establish a trademark claim. I did this for my stage name. When you file, you will be assigned a PTO (Patent and Trademark Office) attorney who will review your claim and research whether or not anyone else has already filed a previous application for trademark and the validity of your own application. Generally speaking, the extent of your use will not matter if they already filed an application for the name. A trademark is considered active once the application is granted and it is used in "commerce." So, if they hold the trademark and played a single show, sold a disc with their name on it, etc. your application could be deemed meritless.

BTW - You can do a basic search yourself on the PTO site. Do the base search yourself as app fees (all told I paid almost $600) are not refunded when a claim is declined.

Good luck.
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Quote Originally Posted by daddymack View Post
Register them as a collection on one disc, under a master title with the individual titles inclusive.
OK, man. thanks for the advice.
Another question, is the online copyright thing applicable internationally?
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Old thread but perfect place for this question. I've got a bunch of songs I'm going to copyright as a compilation. Some are new, some are a year or two old, a couple are real old and I've performed them for years. Can I put the date I wrote them or do I have to use the date I send the form in? If I copyright them separarely is this different or not?

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technically, the moment you set them in any 'tangible' form (written down, recorded), the copyright is in effect. So if you recorded them in 1999, that is your copyright date. The registration date will is the date you actually registered them.

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The basic info on copyright and copyright registration contained in this thread is good but any reference to the old forms used by the US copyright office is a bit out of date now. The copyright office is encouraging everyone to file their registrations electronically. They still accept forms PA & SR but IMO you're just asking for your submission to get lost/mishandled and/or increasing your processing time. The last time I checked, the website interface wasn't all that slick but it did get the job done without the hassle of printing out forms and burning cds etc.

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