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Do you need to copyright your music?

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Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby jbehrmusic » Wed Dec 25, 2019 10:13 pm

Hi All. Just thought I'd share some information for Christmas. Hope you're having a great holiday!

https://youtu.be/SqYkE7wVJnk
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Wed Dec 25, 2019 10:26 pm

That's very US-orientated. Here is an article contrasting UK and US copyright: https://lac-group.com/blog/comparing-uk ... rotection/
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby jbehrmusic » Fri Dec 27, 2019 10:34 am

Eddy Deegan wrote:That's very US-orientated. Here is an article contrasting UK and US copyright: https://lac-group.com/blog/comparing-uk ... rotection/

I believe the UK and US are under the same copyright treaty, which means they do overlap on many uses. There will be minor differences in every country, which I also mentioned in the video.
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby The Red Bladder » Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:33 am

That video is complete drivel, as it seeks to promote these 'fools' copyright' services. Stick to the info as described in that page posted by Eddy. If you seek to protect your copyright in the US through litigation, formal registration with the US Copyright Office is required.
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby Ken P » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:55 pm

My understanding is that 'copyrrighting your music' isn't something you choose to do; as soon as you create something the copyright to it is automatically created. The argument, in a court, will not be 'did you create it or not?' but, instead, 'when?'
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jan 06, 2020 9:47 am

Yep, copyright applies as soon as it is 'fixed', but see also the Red Bladder's point about taking action.
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby Stickman0_3 » Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:41 am

Is that because, in the UK, when you write something to a CD, it will automatically log the date the CD was written to?

I beleive in the US, you need to actually have it copyrighted - ie send a copy of it to yourself via recorded delivery or deposited in a bank?
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 06, 2020 11:20 am

First of all, as it's been pointed out there's no such thing as "copyright your music".

Second, there is no such thing as a (recognized) "global registry" of works. If anything, the publisher's catalogs, which keep track of ISRC and associated dates of publish can be as good as a guideline as any. If there are options to "register" something, they're per-country - and litigation is also per-country. In most countries there's no way to register anything, with the notable exception of the US (of which more below).

Finally, a lot of the confusion stems from the fact that copyright is never easy to enforce: whatever you have done (or not) to protect your right, enters the picture only if someone (you?) decides to actively contest it.

Now that makes sense only when (serious) money is involved. And when serious money is involved, and a copyright is contested, litigation will always ensue. Nobody will give up big money just because you raise a copyright claim. So if you find your work "stolen", you will need to file a civil suit no matter what you have "registered" and where.

Some countries, like the US, offer a "registration" process which, if executed, gives the copyright holder some advantages - namely a "prima facie" entitlement already recognized by US courts (which therefore is easier to litigate) and - in case you win - statutory damages plus coverage of costs and attorney fees. "statutory damages" means that you don't need to go in details and prove the exact amount of damages. A side consequence is that you are more likely to find attorneys who are willing to work for a percentage of the winnings (as opposite to up-front cash).

Contrary to the popular myth, you still can successfully litigate in the US without having registered with the US copyright office: it's only that usually doing so will require more money upfront (as attorneys will have no idea of the size of the final award, if they win, and so they will want to be paid there an then) and more work (as you need to prove the size of damages).

Still, it's a litigation: there are arguments and each arguments will be weighted and cross verified. If you have published your work in a publisher's catalog with a precise timestamp, and the song or parts are stolen in a demostrable manner (the same criteria which would apply if you had registered at the USCO) it's unlikely a US court will ignore that. There's just less predictability in the size of the final award (if you win).

In either cases, the size of your wallet (and therefore the quality of the attorney teams) is a critical issue because a copyright litigation is usually costly and takes a long time. Mostly, what matters is your strength of position (i.e. the probability of winning as seen by your counterpart) which then drives the possibility and size of a settlement.

And while a USCO registration may increase these odds a little, the third-party dating involved in modern digital transactions might give a similar strength of position. Unlike the "mail a cd to yourself", which is relatively easy to fake as there's no third-party, independent custody of the material

An exception worth noticing is the automatic copyright identification mechanism which exists in the digital world, particularly with YouTube and for private people. There, a "copyright issue" is automatically raised by the system when it detects an infringement and can be "litigated" cheaply and easily online - up to a point. It is not really a copyright enforcement (as YouTube has no such authority) but YT has modeled his user rules to the current US copyright legislation, so that the result is effectively the same (only YT is the judge). Again, should that model cause problems to an actor with sufficient means, it's very likely that a real civil court case would be needed to figure out what's what.
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby jbehrmusic » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:14 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:That video is complete drivel, as it seeks to promote these 'fools' copyright' services. Stick to the info as described in that page posted by Eddy. If you seek to protect your copyright in the US through litigation, formal registration with the US Copyright Office is required.

I'm a bit confused. Which part of the video is nonsense? Songtrust isn't a 'fools' copyright service, as I mainly use it for collecting royalties. It just doubles as another avenue to establish ownership of your music. I never said it was the end all be all of copyright coverage. I even mentioned that a person would need to establish a certificate with the US Copyright Office, if they were to go through litigation.
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:14 pm

CS70 wrote:Contrary to the popular myth, you still can successfully litigate in the US without having registered with the US copyright office: it's only that usually doing so will require more money upfront (as attorneys will have no idea of the size of the final award, if they win, and so they will want to be paid there an then) and more work (as you need to prove the size of damages).

Just a correction on my text here: from 2019, the US Supreme Court has deliberated that registration is indeed necessary to file a copyright suit. A myth has actually become true!

There’s no need to file in advance tough, you can do it if you discover a violation, decide it’s worth pursuing and and want to litigate.

Which basically means it’s worth only if some mega hit is based on your work, and most won’t as megastars and labels tend to be pretty careful to avoid just that.

So the gist is still that even in the US most often it’s not worth to register with the CO, but it’s important to have as much independent confirmation as possible of the date associated with the material - aggregators and YouTube are king here.
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby jamedia.uk » Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:35 pm

CS70 wrote: Just a correction on my text here: from 2019, the US Supreme Court has deliberated that registration is indeed necessary to file a copyright suit. A myth has actually become true!

So if some one in the US rips off (Ie uses parts of it not simply copies the whole lot) the work from someone somewhere else in the world and registers it in the US it will be almost impossible for the original author to do anything about it? Much like trying to chase infringements in China.

Fortunately I won't have that problem with audio because I am normally doing it for some one else (who would have the problem). Though I have had the problem with photos being ripped off in the US.
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:54 pm

No, no: anybody can register with the USCO. It’s only that you have to do it to litigate in a US court, before filing the suit. It cost about 50 bucks, and it takes some time. If you find yourself ripped off, you register with the USCO and when the registration is complete you file your suit , and litigate the case based on whatever evidence you have..

Note that there are also copyright treaties so if your claim is recognized in your country there’s a chance the ruling can be applied elsewhere.
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jan 13, 2020 6:26 pm

Yep, the Berne convention is the big one but it's important to remember that copyright is a territorial law and it differs from country to country, as do exceptions like fair use / fair dealing.
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby jamedia.uk » Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:02 pm

CS70 wrote:No, no: anybody can register with the USCO. It’s only that you have to do it to litigate in a US court, before filing the suit. It cost about 50 bucks, and it takes some time. If you find yourself ripped off, you register with the USCO and when the registration is complete you file your suit , and litigate the case based on whatever evidence you have..

Note that there are also copyright treaties so if your claim is recognized in your country there’s a chance the ruling can be applied elsewhere.

So how would you register in the US if the person who has ripped of your stuff has already registered inthe US? There is nowhere to register in the UK or most other countries.
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Re: Do you need to copyright your music?

Postby CS70 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:42 pm

jamedia.uk wrote:So how would you register in the US if the person who has ripped of your stuff has already registered inthe US? There is nowhere to register in the UK or most other countries.

You would register at the US Copyright office, starting at its website, where you will find all you need. The most common registration is online, via web and without correspondence - it takes usually 3 months according to them but it can take up to 6. You can register anything - typically you would submit your original recording, including lyrics and arrangement, etc. You do not need be an US citizen or resident to do so.

To be clear: it's only an administrative step which is now required to file a suit in the US court system in all circuits (as opposite to before, when certain circuits required it, others didn't), nothing more, nothing less. If you don't plan to litigate in the US, it's not really worth much.

The actual filing would likely be more complicated, as it would require hiring a local attorney to send the document and, even with electronic filing, visit the chambers to deposit a paper copy the day after electronic submission. To say nothing of the actual litigation.

But then that's why one must think hard and long if it's worth doing - litigation is never easy and it's somewhat designed to be so in most countries, in order to avoid frivolous claims.
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