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Song copyright / song writer protection

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Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby Graymo » Fri Jan 04, 2013 2:31 am

Hi All

I would be grateful for some advice on a couple of issues regarding the protection of original compositions. However, none of the songs are my own ...... I will explain.

I volunteer at a UK youth project and part of the work that we do is to engage young people in various music making activities of which one is song composition. This has proved more popular than envisaged and we now have several composers/vocalists/bands that are creating their own music to a good standard. The young people are typically between 13 & 18 and have had little or no previous experience with creating/performing music. Some of the songs are very good and I am conscious that we need to be advising these young people how to copyright their compositions.

I looked on the Internet and found an enormous amount of confusing information and international legal jargon. It seems the old post it off in a letter to yourself (Rikki Don't Lose That Number ) advice is nonsense but that is what I remember my friends doing many years ago. Cheap and cheerful but apparently does not stand up to much legal scrutiny.

Some of these songs are rather quite good and I don't want the kids to be taken advantage of.

Is there a good Internet site that I can point them to , or any reference guide that I can print out for their parents regarding this? We will , of course, help them to fill out any forms that are required.

The second point is that as the songs are now getting very good, the next stage will be to record them. The kids themselves will perform these and it will be a great experience for them to visit a studio and see how the recording process works. The kids will get a copy of their recorded track and a compilation CD will be compiled by the project. I realise that once these songs are out into the Public Domain they could be on the other side of the world in seconds. Is there anything else that I should think about regards the song writers rights before starting work on the recording sessions? I assume that will need all songs to be copyrighted before the studio dates.

This work is proving successful in getting kids off the streets and into music. It has turned quite a few young lives around. It is important that we get this right, offer safe/sound advise as we hope to turn this into regular workshops that help to bring new talent through.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Graydon
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Re: Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby The Red Bladder » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:48 am

1. Copyright exists at all stages of the creative process. The moment you have thought of a tune, you have copyrighted it. That of course, will not stand up very well in a court in any jurisdiction, but there is no one magic moment in which a copyright is created.

2. The letter with CD to self thing has never (to my knowledge) been made to stand up in a court, because the other side could then produce a similar letter and there is no way to date a CDR (other than the manufacturer's batch manufacturing date).

3. The only kosher registration I can think of is the Library of Congress registration service, but to do that, you will need an agent in the US. Before anyone can litigate over copyright in the US, this registration must be completed.

4. The best way to nail copyright to the masthead in the UK is to publish the music and register that publication (i.e. replicated CD or DVD) with MCPS (and similar bodies in other countries).

5. (And most important!) Beware becoming bald men fighting over a comb! I get inquiries on a fairly regular basis from artists who are fighting over who owns what in a song and/or recording. 99.9% of the time, the songs are not worth a bucket of warm spit.

Good luck. It all sounds very worthy, but beware creating unrealistic expectations of careers and fame and fortune. Young kids soon get away with themselves and create crazy dreams that can do more damage than good.
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Re: Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby Gone To Lunch » Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:21 pm

You could try asking the MU and BASCA ?

Both are increasingly interested in this kind of 'outreach' work and they have lots of good info about all this sort of stuff, and if you are a sufficiently worthy project they might even be tempted to come and give a presentation ?
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Re: Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby Graymo » Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:38 pm

Thanks guys for the responses. I will check these avenues out.

Red , I know what you mean about raising expectations. Young people can be over enthusiastic which leads to unreal expectations. Shows like X Factor don't help either!!

I think that I am a good role model for them as I have been a musician for over 40 years and never had a jot of fame. I was good enough to make regular money, but nothing special and have always loved playing live music. Now that I have stopped gigging, I am loving getting involved in helping these kids onto the first rung of the ladder. Good quality help and advice was never available to me back in the day. Many years were spent "finding" the pitfalls - although the school of hard knocks is a good teacher.

IMHO we have lots of "bucket of spit" songs here but we also have on or two real gems including a 14 year old girl who's written 8 songs - all good - and has no idea how to go about things. Just raw talent really. I don't want her to get shafted because we didn't support her. For various reasons a lot of these young people do not have any parents around to help either. This project has opened my eyes to a lot of societies problems , but lets not got into that one!!

Many thanks again, and you may see a couple more posts from me as the project moves along as I seem to have been left to manage this by myself.

Best Regards
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Re: Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby Madman_Greg » Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:07 am


Mr Bladder

Let me ask if you feel this stands up.

If I use an online email service, gmail for example. I can email myself an MP3, lyrics, whatever.

Now once sent, the only thing I can do to change the email is to delete it. I do not have authority to change the sent date etc…..

Now I guess someone could change if they owned the email service.
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Re: Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby The Red Bladder » Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:56 am

I believe it would, but I would not take my word for it, as I am not by any stretch of the imagination, an expert on copyright!

You must ask yourself (in any instance of creating or establishing evidence that might have to be able to stand up to scrutiny in litigation) will a judge in his chambers or in the court itself, be able to establish the veracity of the evidence presented quickly and easily?

The other aspect of the reality of copyright, is the appearance of evidence. Just how 'imposing' is the evidence? The more concrete the evidence appears, the less likely it is that someone will disregard it and injure your copyright. A book, CD, DVD, whatever that has been published and is available on Amazon, eBay and elsewhere is a clear and very concrete object and the presence of these objects and the dates of publication are very very clearly defined.

Like all property, including your garden or your car, there should be no doubt to any person just what is and is not yours.
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Re: Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby Scramble » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:56 am

What exactly are you worried about?

Online pirates will steal your music regardless (unless it's too obscure to be worth bothering with). There's nothing you can do about that.

But apart from that, what's the worry? That some established act will steal your songs? There are literally millions of songs floating around on the internet. Even if someone is going to rip off some songs, why would it be yours out of those millions?

And is your life and music so solitary and obscure that you have no way of proving you wrote some songs other than sending an envelope to yourself in the mail?
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Re: Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:07 pm

I tend to agree that this is something people worry about too much. The chances of someone ripping off your song and having a big hit with it are very small. And even if it happened, and you had evidence, would you have the resources to pursue it in court?

There are certainly unscrupulous people in the music business, but if someone likes your material that much, they would have far more to gain by working with you than by stealing.
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Re: Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby Gone To Lunch » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:32 pm

Sam Inglis wrote:I tend to agree that this is something people worry about too much. The chances of someone ripping off your song and having a big hit with it are very small. And even if it happened, and you had evidence, would you have the resources to pursue it in court?

There are certainly unscrupulous people in the music business, but if someone likes your material that much, they would have far more to gain by working with you than by stealing.

Years ago it was explained to me that if my music was good enough to steal, the thief would be far more likely to do it 'legally' via an unfair and unreasonable contract, not least because they would want to hang on to the income from any successful exploitation. And also because, whilst lots and lots of us can put a track together, the number who can make a good solid radio-friendly hook is alot less !
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Re: Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby Scramble » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:52 pm

If you really think this is worth worrying about, take the works to a lawyer -- they can do the necessary legal work at this time to make sure you can be protected in court in the event of any court case in the future.

If you say that you can't afford to do this, then you can't afford a court case should it come to that. So stop worrying.
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Re: Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby GlynB » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:23 pm

Gone To Lunch wrote:
Sam Inglis wrote:I tend to agree that this is something people worry about too much. The chances of someone ripping off your song and having a big hit with it are very small. And even if it happened, and you had evidence, would you have the resources to pursue it in court?

There are certainly unscrupulous people in the music business, but if someone likes your material that much, they would have far more to gain by working with you than by stealing.

Years ago it was explained to me that if my music was good enough to steal, the thief would be far more likely to do it 'legally' via an unfair and unreasonable contract, not least because they would want to hang on to the income from any successful exploitation. And also because, whilst lots and lots of us can put a track together, the number who can make a good solid radio-friendly hook is alot less !


...I thought you were going to say the number of people who have access to the necessary budget to promote a good song, exploit it, and make a good profit from it, are a wealthy influential few, and they would simply approach you and ask to use it and give you a cut, rather than steal it. The famous cases of artists being ripped off and not receiving writing royalties are usually from the days of unfair contracts back in the 50s/60s/70s.
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Re: Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby kevin4kjrm » Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:41 pm

It’s important to take some basic steps to protect your work. By taking this action if any issue arises in the future about the copyright in the work you will be protected.
Go to this link COPYRIGHT for the basics plus a video with Shawn Murphy of ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) who gives you some insight into the upside and downside of song registration. I think you will agree it does matter!!
Heres to your success
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Re: Song copyright / song writer protection

Postby Graymo » Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:43 am

Thanks Kev, but the link did not work for me. I would be interested in checking it out though.
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