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Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby stollypop » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:18 am

Hello,

Probably asked hundreds of times but can someone advise me on the best way to copyright my songs please. A record co have asked me to submit some of my songs as they think they may be suitable for a female artist they are about to sign. So what is my best plan of action? Years ago i used to just registered post them back to myself, not sure if this was an accepted form of copyright. I went to the bank today and asked about a safe deposit envelope that is signed by the bank and sealed with the date i put my music cd in there, trouble is with this is if i then add more of my music cds the envelope is opened and re-sealed with the new date therefor making the 1st cd copyrighted from the new later date. This leaves my earlier music cds open to being ripped off. So, any advice out there? Thanks.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby narcoman » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:42 am

Register your works with your local PRO? OR stick them on a none searchable Soundcloud page. Copyright is present the second you commit a work to a medium. It's all about proof of origination and date stamping on SC would be enough. The USA goes on about the library of congress a lot and thats great for USA citizens. Doesn't carry any more weight than any other method for us none US people or outside of the USA.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby GlynB » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:51 am

I would at one time have referred you to www.Bemuso.com, but Rob seems to be running a (very interesting) blog site now rather than info on many music biz related things as used to be the case, including an excellent page on copyright. Anyone know what happened to it?

Also, you're based in Australia, so the law may be slightly different to the UK.

Here you don't 'register' copyright (as they do in the States) or do the 'envelope' thing. If push comes to shove you just need to be able to prove that whatever it is under dispute you wrote it first and produce whatever evidence you can in support of your claim.

Unless one of your songs becomes a major hit, it really isn't worth worrying about.

There is so much music out there, if you happened to get to court in a dispute for breach of copyright you'd be up against someone with money to pay for the top lawyers, they would employ a musicologist to show that your version was not the original as something similar to your piece pre-dated it already, etc, etc.

My view is, unless you're in a position to employ a team of equally experienced expensive lawyers, you'd surely lose. If you're worried about your music being copied, don't put it out there.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby The Red Bladder » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:53 am

The mail it back to yourself (or store in a bank vault - or under the bed of your Aunty Floe) is completely and utterly bogus and worthless. No court will accept it and never has.

Like the man said, register your songs with your local PRO. Better still, the one and (IMO) only reliable way to protect, is to publish. That means releasing a commercial CD. Even if it is only 100 copies to be kept under the stairs (CD plants will do this small a run, but it costs almost as much as 500!) this is the only way that is definitely going to stand up in a court of law.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby Stuarto » Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:01 pm

I'm not recommending or endorsing this in any way - just putting it out there: future copyright
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby The Red Bladder » Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:23 pm

narcoman wrote:It's all about proof of origination and date stamping on SC would be enough. The USA goes on about the library of congress a lot and thats great for USA citizens. Doesn't carry any more weight than any other method for us none US people or outside of the USA.

Registration with the US Copyright Office (within the Library of Congress) is not just an option, it is obligatory, if you wish to protect your copyright (i.e. litigate) in the US. The courts will not allow litigation to be filed, unless registration has been completed and this must be done within three months of publication, if you want to get full statutory damages and costs.

I very much doubt that any court of first instance anywhere will accept Sound Cloud or any other database as proof of anything, as courts require tangible proof of publication. As any database can be manipulated at will, it would require an IT expert or a witness from the database in question to provide such proof.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby Scramble » Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:29 pm

What about if your album has been released publicly, and widely reviewed in the music press at the time? Would it still be necessary for an artist (even a non-US artist) to register the work with the Library of Congress if they want to ensure that they can litigate in the US in the future if the need arose?
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby The Red Bladder » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:05 pm

In a word, yes - BUT

1. All litigation filed under copyright law has to be accompanied by a certificate of registration.

2. Registration must take place (I have reliably been told - I have not checked this personally) within three months of publication, if you wish to get statutory damages and costs.

As for Future Copyright - they were nearly taken off the register of companies, after forgetting to even file any returns. Compulsory striking off of company register was cancelled in April and in May, returns were filed. Their accounts status is listed as "Total Exemption Small" and they appear to be above a used furniture shop in Hove.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby awjoe » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:16 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:Their accounts status is listed as "Total Exemption Small" and they appear to be above a used furniture shop in Hove, actually.

There. Fixed it for ya.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby Scramble » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:21 pm

>2. Registration must take place (I have reliably been told - I have not checked this personally) within three months of publication

Is that 3 months from US publication? From the official release date? From the time you first started selling it (which may be earlier than the official release date)?
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby awjoe » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:26 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:Like the man said, register your songs with your local PRO. Better still, the one and (IMO) only reliable way to protect, is to publish. That means releasing a commercial CD. Even if it is only 100 copies to be kept under the stairs (CD plants will do this small a run, but it costs almost as much as 500!) this is the only way that is definitely going to stand up in a court of law.

This is pretty interesting advice. But in another post of yours in this thread, you talk about the obligatory nature of registering copyright with the LOC if you want protection in the US. Here are my thoughts on this:

* If it's legally protected in the US, it'll probably stand up in any Western court of law.

* It it's registered with the LOC, that's the cheap route - they charge $35 for a registration if you do it online. It seems to me that a registration with a body like the LOC is pretty watertight. Official documents with dates - that's the ticket.

* If you actually publish AND GET THE MUSIC OUT THERE, that might provide additional proof that you 'wrote it first'. But stashing 100 CDs under the stairs isn't going to accomplish anything except provide the mice with more stuff to crawl over.

Whatcha think?
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby The Red Bladder » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:36 pm

Scramble wrote:Is that 3 months from US publication? From the official release date? From the time you first started selling it (which may be earlier than the official release date)?

I was hoping you wouldn't ask that! Quite honestly, I don't know, so all I can do is guess that it depends on what evidence is brought before the court. Damages for someone using your material are said to be quite low, about $1 for each copy sold, but statutory dames can be quite high and costs even higher, about $250,000 at the first instance, so it would be worth someone's while to show evidence that the song was widely available in the US long before registration.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby The Red Bladder » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:45 pm

awjoe wrote:
* If it's legally protected in the US, it'll probably stand up in any Western court of law.

* It it's registered with the LOC, that's the cheap route - they charge 5 for a registration if you do it online. It seems to me that a registration with a body like the LOC is pretty watertight. Official documents with dates - that's the ticket.

* If you actually publish AND GET THE MUSIC OUT THERE, that might provide additional proof that you 'wrote it first'. But stashing 100 CDs under the stairs isn't going to accomplish anything except provide the mice with more stuff to crawl over.

Whatcha think?

1. In so far as they will accept it as evidence and this evidence is available in the local language, translated by a court-approved translator.

2. Absolutely. It's cheap, easy and protects you in the one jurisdiction that accounts for one-third of all the World's media sales. Seems a no-brainer to me!

3. I did mean the full thing with PRS, MCPS and ISRC etc. and one assumes that you will get some of them out there to Joe Public as proper replicated CDs! Just making 100 copies, or even 1,000 or 10,000 and hiding them under the stairs for the mice ain't gonna cut it!
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby awjoe » Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:20 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:It's cheap, easy and protects you in the one jurisdiction that accounts for one-third of all the World's media sales.

A third? I was wondering what the percentage might be. Interesting.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby Scramble » Thu Oct 25, 2012 7:24 pm

I might check out the Library of Congress situation myself.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby narcoman » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:22 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:

Registration with the US Copyright Office (within the Library of Congress) is not just an option, it is obligatory, if you wish to protect your copyright (i.e. litigate) in the US. The courts will not allow litigation to be filed, unless registration has been completed and this must be done within three months of publication, if you want to get full statutory damages and costs.

... but it carries no weight abroad. That was the point. It's also incredibly shite to search!!!
The Red Bladder wrote:
I very much doubt that any court of first instance anywhere will accept Sound Cloud or any other database as proof of anything, as courts require tangible proof of publication. As any database can be manipulated at will, it would require an IT expert or a witness from the database in question to provide such proof.

Well - in the same way as an email can be tampered but IS allowed as proof since any ISP will show a digital trail of changes - yes online storage IS and HAS been used to show prior ownership. Pain in the ass way to do it? yeah . Soundcloud, Myspace, Youtube music etc - all of them are admissible and used as proof as they are dated a stored on multitude of servers with a digital "paper" trail. Have used these sources in infringement solutions.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby narcoman » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:25 pm

awjoe wrote:

This is pretty interesting advice. But in another post of yours in this thread, you talk about the obligatory nature of registering copyright with the LOC if you want protection in the US. Here are my thoughts on this:

* If it's legally protected in the US, it'll probably stand up in any Western court of law.

LOC carries no weight because of it's status of first USA registration. Meaning that if some bastard registers your stuff first then that is precedence in the USA. Right pain in the arse to contest even with label proof. Been there, done that. Cost a lot of money to put right. Thank you EMI. Not.

I'm sure it could act as supporting proof - but it is not universally accepted just because it exists.


Secondly - and I quote from a shite source

"In the United States, the United States Copyright Office accepts registrations. For works created in the US by US citizens, a registration is also required before an infringement suit may be filed in a US court. Furthermore, copyright holders cannot claim statutory damages or attorney's fees unless the work was registered prior to infringement, or within three months of publication".

Statutory damages and attorney fee's. Not litigation against other damages which have no limitation of $30,000. (17 USC § 504Except as provided by clause (2) of this subsection, the copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than 0,000 as the court considers just..Can go higher but this is not statutory entitlement.)

The money is in ADDITIONAL damages which is 2 or 3 times the required license for up to 3 years (or the lost payments). That's the part that is worth millions and that is the part which is not mandated by LOC registration in the USA. True - the LOC protects you from attorney fees during such cases and THAT is the advantage but not for the rest of the world. You have to be a US citizen to gain that protection. As for proof - it carries the same weight as any date stamping system such as iTunes or Soundcloud. Forget that - use your PRO. Government mandated through BIEM agreement internationally and the ONLY real protection for copyrights.


Third - there are many works that are public domain in the USA that are not in the rest of the world. there are also many works that are public domain elsewhere but not in the USA. The LOC has no jurisdiction elsewhere - a publisher, ASCAP/PRO registration or released documented copy on I-tunes carries more weight as they are BIEM mandated and equally endorsed throughout the member states.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby stollypop » Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:55 am

narcoman wrote:OR stick them on a none searchable Soundcloud page.

How do i do that? i have an ordinary Soundcloud account but can't see how to make it non searchable.

If i put the songs up for public listening on Soundcloud it's dated, so is that a good enough copyright?

Thanks everybody.
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby awjoe » Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:37 am

narcoman wrote: LOC carries no weight because of it's status of first USA registration. Meaning that if some bastard registers your stuff first then that is precedence in the USA.

I don't understand what you mean here. If I register a copyright for my stuff, then nobody can register before me, right?

narcoman wrote: As for proof - it carries the same weight as any date stamping system such as iTunes or Soundcloud. Forget that - use your PRO. Government mandated through BIEM agreement internationally and the ONLY real protection for copyrights.

The copyright registration in my country not only costs more than LOC, but it doesn't require you to send a copy of the work you're registering (something which the LOC requires). So, for instance, if I write a song and call it 'Zizzy' and you rip off the whole thing except for the title and call it 'Fiffy', there's nothing I can do about it if I've registered the copyright in Canada, but if I've done it with LOC, they have the lyrics, the music, everything, and it can be proved with reference to the LOC registration that I wrote it. But I'm going to look into the Soundcloud thing like you suggest. However, how long is Soundcloud going to last?
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Re: Best way to copyright my songs?

Postby Goddard » Sat Oct 27, 2012 6:47 am

stollypop wrote:Hello,Probably asked hundreds of times but can someone advise me on the best way to copyright my songs please.

http://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/get-the-r ... copyright/
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