Electronic U.S. Copyright application: How long before I can publicize the song?

mjbphotos

What?!?
The US Copyright web info is confusing, for sure! It doesn't matter if you have other players on your recordings - if you 'own' the recordings. The reason to copyright the SR way is if you are selling those versions (digital or hard copies), but I don't see any big difference if you only copyright the music/lyrics as to 'legal protection'.
Note that if you do the SR copyright AND sell hard copies, the LoC will ask for 2 copies of the CD for their archives.
 

Mickster

Well-known member
Hey CoolCat.......I called them and they basically told me that if I was going to submit a sound recording there would be a sort of "comments" section in the application where I could stipulate that I was claiming words and music only. There was no sort of "check box" anymore as there was years ago. I could submit lyrics and a score sheet if I wanted......instead of a SR.......but no way was I going to do that labor.

I did the application and indeed there is a page where you can tell them in a comment box that you're claiming only words and music and composition......or any other notation you may want to include.

OK.......so I completed the application........paid the $55 fee........and then uploaded 13 mp3's (one by one) to the site. A couple hours later I got a confirmation email that listed all of the songs. TO MY HORROR......one of them was a cover of the Beatles tune I had done !!!!! I had accidentally uploaded it!! (Had all my mp3's in the same folder). Holy crap.......I was actually listing a Beatles tune as being my words and music!! As it turns out....you cannot go in and delete anything you submitted using the site once it's been confirmed. You have to contact them. I did and was told that they would review my case file and would get back to me in 5 days or so. So far I haven't heard back. I'll update you with the results.
 

TAE

All you have is now
The US Copyright web info is confusing, for sure!

What is the purpose of having a copyright...From the web...
The purpose of copyright law is to promote the progress of useful arts and science by protecting the exclusive right of authors and inventors to benefit from their works of authorship.

That may be the purpose of why they set up the copyright system but the purpose of getting a copyright is about allowing the creator of a copyrightable "work" to have the exclusive rights to control use, grant rights to that use and make money from their "works" of creation and the legal ability to take someone to federal court and sue them for unauthorized use and get money from them. It is 99.9% about the money and.01% of controlling where your works are used. Without a U.S. copyright you can not sue someone for unauthorized use and monetary damages therein in a U.S. Federal court . Other than being able to say yes my works have been officially copyrighted by the U.S government the only benefit from going through the process is being able to sue people if they don't cease and desist using your works without your consent. BTW that is part of the process prior to suing.

So when are your works copyrighted? Not U.S. copyrighted but just copyrighted ...the instant you create them...now there is a process involved in getting a U.S. copyright...you have to prove that you are the original creator of the work...and yes the old poor man copyright (the sealed registered letter mailed to yourself with your creation documents inside) is a weak defense....But in this incredible digital world a $20 annual subscription to a company like distrokid puts a digital time stamp on your work for longer than any of us reading this post will exist. E-mailing a copy to friends and family, posting on various sites like FB and forums like HR.com adds a layer of "proof of the date of creation". IF and only if I ever find that someone has used one of my invaluable ( worthless ;) ) works and somehow made at least a few million bucks from "using it without my permission" then and only then will I bother with registering my "works" with the U.S. Government.


Gotta say I am more than a little frustrated with how our government sets things up "to protect us", charge us for it and when it comes time to protect us the agency that approved or didn't approve your request for protection is not allowed to testify and doesn't have to explain themselves in a court of law. I have wasted over $15,000 over the last few years trying to get patents on some very cool inventions only to find that in two different cases someone somewhere who had never done anything with something similar but totally not the same made it so my inventions were rejected...One is a jointing system we developed for countertop edges that would revolutionize the prefabricated stone countertop business...nope somebody actually got a patent in the early 1900's on a wood joint having nothing to do with countertops but used the same concept..poof! Goodbye $7K Just had another for a showerpan system rejected because someone in Germany filed and abandoned a patent ( was never granted) showerpan that had an integral part that was used in my awesome and far superior system...Poof! $6K gone..Just negotiated a settlement ( I had to pay him) with my patent attorney to the tune of $3K because he didn't find a product that negated my latest patent attempt...At the midnight hour when it was time to pay him for the whole writing of the patent and his diligent search, having suffered these two previous painful losses I googled the hell out of google images for something that might infringe....SHIT! There it was bigger than shit ...someone is making something that is not at all what I am doing but uses the same concept, my idea would revolutionize a common tool used in construction but I can't protect it...SHIT!...I called him up and he says you should not have told me as" now I must include it in our application....but we can still get it granted probably"...a very weak patent that would be almost impossible to defend...damn... I owed him $4500 and I had authorized him to write the damn thing based upon his and my own diligent research prior to committing so rather than say screw you we mutually agreed on $3K and put it on hold for a possible revision or change in concept...

I have had my fill with the copyright office and patent office and lawsuits brought on by one of my competitors where I was an industry expert...In both cases he lost as we were able to prove his copyrights and patents were uniforcible.

Right now he has thrown a huge monkey wrench into the Chinese quartz surfacing industry by filing a complaint with the International Trade Commission and Department of commerce...what a fricking clusterfuck of bureaucratical idiocy and ineptness... I have learned more about Tariffs and anti dumping and the stupid ass way they are implemented than I ever wanted to know...

SO...no I won't be filing any of my works with the U.S. Government unless it is absolutely necessary..Due to the absurd rules and way they deal with business they have wasted enough of my time and money over the last 6 years to last a lifetime.
 
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TAE

All you have is now
BTW FWIW

Remember when you uploaded that song on Soundcloud or Youtube? Before you could submit it you had to state that you owned the rights to that work and by uploading that song you are granting said online entity and only that entity to publish it one their website...You at that moment granted them a copyright to use your art in their platform.

YOU grant the copyright of your works... the U.S. copyright only shows that you registered your ownership of the copyrights to that work with them and because of how the stupid ass legal system works by doing so they grant you the right to sue someone in Federal court..They don't grant you copyrights you already have them, they grant you "suing rights".
 
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CoolCat

Well-known member
Hey CoolCat.......I called them and they basically told me that if I was going to submit a sound recording there would be a sort of "comments" section in the application where I could stipulate that I was claiming words and music only. There was no sort of "check box" anymore as there was years ago. I could submit lyrics and a score sheet if I wanted......instead of a SR.......but no way was I going to do that labor.

I did the application and indeed there is a page where you can tell them in a comment box that you're claiming only words and music and composition......or any other notation you may want to include.

OK.......so I completed the application........paid the $55 fee........and then uploaded 13 mp3's (one by one) to the site. A couple hours later I got a confirmation email that listed all of the songs. TO MY HORROR......one of them was a cover of the Beatles tune I had done !!!!! I had accidentally uploaded it!! (Had all my mp3's in the same folder). Holy crap.......I was actually listing a Beatles tune as being my words and music!! As it turns out....you cannot go in and delete anything you submitted using the site once it's been confirmed. You have to contact them. I did and was told that they would review my case file and would get back to me in 5 days or so. So far I haven't heard back. I'll update you with the results.

damn how did that slip in there? Beatles! ahaha
the Fox Agency will have you on the radar!

yeah its a beeeeetch to screw up. I screwed up something and tried to make a simple edit, a meaningless word spell or title screw up and they wanted $150 each edit and it was time consuming. I left it.

$55 is a $20 increase it seems? I cant recall too well.

If you copyright a sound recording of a Beatles song is it ok? I dont know. To release it they want money and the Fox Agency gives a right to do your version of the song and basically they dont charge anything unless you are making money. I did a song once just to learn how it works, Buddy Holly old 1950's tune and it was some percentage.....but again if you arent making any cash off the song theres nothing they care about.

good luck getting it removed!

SR is great for doing the whole album an upload. I always take several screen shots as I do it (which isnt very often).
 

Chili

Site Moderator
Hey Mick,

don't worry about the beatles song. The title of a song is not copyrightable. Whatta coincidence, you used the same title as the Beatles. Then it is a matter of someone at the copyright office actually listening to your tune and saying, Hey, that's a Beatles song!! That is probably not going to happen. If you filed an SR, then you are claiming the performance of the song, so that you can actually record another person's song and file an SR for the performance. Timely enough, the copyright circular #50 uses Aretha Franklin as an example.

Reading through your post, I think you should file using the PA form. File all 12 or 13 of your songs as a collection and pay one fee. The SR is for when you are registering a sound recording, like if you made an album or recorded a concert.

The one caveat for filing a collection or using an SR to cover the underlying work, is all the authors for each song have to be the same and at the same consistent level of contribution to each song. Meaning, if you co-wrote a few songs and you solely wrote other songs, they cannot be registered in the same collection.
 

TAE

All you have is now
I screwed up something and tried to make a simple edit, a meaningless word spell or title screw up and they wanted $150 each edit and it was time consuming. I left it.

Yeah they are just another government agency there to serve and protect us from ourselves.....and sustain their existence by sucking the blood out of us.

Bureaucratic bullshit! But I'm not BITTER!:cursing:

Nope not giving em one damn more dime until there is a real need to.

To be clear..."IF" one of my works happens to "make the big time" via someone other than myself and revenues go into the millions (making it worth an attorney taking the case on a contingency) , I can send a notice / cease and desist letter and negotiate a deal ( NOT SUE) with said infringer WITHOUT A U.S. copyright just with the digital proof the music is mine...if they are stand up folks and admit I am due my fair share...we come to some fair retribution / done deal, if they are reluctant, tell me to go F off, I can't immediately sue them but at that juncture I can file for and obtain a U.S. copyright (because I created and own the work and can clearly and cleanly prove it) and sue them. Yes it may add a year to the process of suing but at that juncture it must be worth the effort If spending the time and money on every song you produce or even every album you produce makes you feel more secure I get it...Me, I'm not playing that game.

Key point is value of the property...If the unauthorized use merits a royalty or settlement that is large enough that a law firm will take your case on a contingency basis you are a winner... If you have to hire an attorney and pay him to represent you, you may as well just walk away anyway...lawyers are expensive. I have a real case and real infringement and can't get a lawyer to take the case...Beastie Boys "Time to get ill" Used my Uncle's voice (Mr. Ed) on their album..
I can find a 1000 lawyers that I can hire to go after them, oddly can't find one to take it on a contingency? Hmmmmm maybe there isn't enough in it to expend the time , money and energy...
 

CoolCat

Well-known member
I wonder how many people have ever had to use their copyright because their stuff was stolen and was making millions?

the famous Mr Ed...is your Uncles voice track? thats wild.
 

TAE

All you have is now
I wonder how many people have ever had to use their copyright because their stuff was stolen and was making millions?

the famous Mr Ed...is your Uncles voice track? thats wild.

Yep Rocky Allan Lane is my Dad's stepbrother and I am the current executor of his lavish ( notta mucho ) estate...TBH one never knows we got a $70K settlement back in the late 70's for Frito Lay using his voice on a commercial without permission and royalties from that commercial for several years...Then again The Shape of Water producers used his voice in a few clips last year thinking that they had cleared usage and that will result in probably less than a $1000 oops...via SAG AFTRA working out the sordid details...sucks but that is what the deal is..I WANT MORE!

In regards to how many musicians / songwriters actually end up in court ( which doesn't mean they win ) ...I would venture that it is less than 1/10 of 1% of all the songs registered for a copyright...
From the copyright office..."In fiscal year 2016, the Office processed over 468,000 claims for registration, issued over 414,000 registrations, received 91 percent of claims via our online application system, and collected $30 million in fees from registration." Lets say 25% were songs ( probably more ) ..That's 100,000 and maybe decreasing 3% each each year previous...over the last 70 years that's around 3 million songs copyrighted Based upon googling I'd guess it is less than 100 songs have actually merited going to court over..We've all heard about it when they did. But lets say it was 1000 ... man if the reason you are registering your song is so you can sue...go to Vegas and bet on red way better odds..
Here is a great article from the Rolling Stone on 12 high profile that actually went to court. FYI a majority were settled out of court a few were found not to infringe and a few were found to infringe..That's 12 of the most famous but there is probably less than 50 actual hit songs in the last 70 years that have ended up in court ..so on average less than 1 a year...that's a shit load of copyrights that are being paid for and stored in the Library of congress for posterity and nothing else...

Here is a PDF from the Copyright office of what if allowed, the concept is of the Copyright office in overseeing royalties in the music market place....Yeah we need more government intervention and bureaucracy to muddy and clusterfuck the system even more and get more lawyers involved...


Absolutely if you are a professional songwriter making a living off of songs you have written, actually making any money off the songs you write...or it looks promising that you will be....yes go copyright your songs...If you're like most of us schmucks it is definitely IMO putting the cart before the horse for a nominal, non refundable fee...WHY DO IT? If you happen to get lucky and one of your songs does take off you can still register with the Copyright office after the fact and exercise your right to sue in federal court if the infringer doesn't want to play nice about it....
 

Chili

Site Moderator
I've always contended, and maybe I said it earlier in this thread, that the real threat from infringement will come from your band mates or former band mates. You write a song and take it to the band, they think they are songwriters on it because they played it. You leave the band and they still think it's their song. Or, if you co-write with someone and he registers it without you.

I'm in a mostly original band now. Most of the songs were written before I got there, but we are considering the idea to use some of my songs. I'm also writing new stuff and letting the other songwriter massage them. For that stuff I'll share credit, but we gotta set the rules soon.
 

miroslav

Cosmic Cowboy
...here's a short video on infringement.

That was funny! :D

That paints a good picture of how it must be on "Music Row".
They're cutting up each other's songs down to a few notes here and a few lyrics there, and then rehashing them as something else.
I guess that's why so much of it sounds the same.

Surprised someone hasn't churned out some algorithm (maybe they already have)...where you can feed it like 10-15 current hit songs, and it will spit out all the "legal" variations you can cop from them to make into your new songs...and not infringe on copyright and get sued. :p
 

Chili

Site Moderator
That was funny! :D

That paints a good picture of how it must be on "Music Row".
They're cutting up each other's songs down to a few notes here and a few lyrics there, and then rehashing them as something else.
I guess that's why so much of it sounds the same.

A normal person would call it incestuous. :D
 

CoolCat

Well-known member
I was jamming on Drive My Car ..Beatles 1966 and its almost exactly like Hendrix Crosstown Traffic 67-68....
but the sound recordings are so different, only the structure and chords are very much the same....Beatles mentioned a Motown bass line influence...its a blurry line.
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
Just waded through this one again.

If anyone cares, the US copyright office changed the rules for submitting a collection of works back in March, so you can no longer submit anything that was previously published (e.g., uploaded to YouTube, et al) and they limit it to 10 individual works (except in some cases, like photos, IIRC). This change may be significant for the way a lot of folks may have been doing things.

Full disclosure: IANAL.

The confusion over SR and PA seems to be a constant in threads like this, but at it's over-simplest, if you want to copyright the song you wrote, you'd probably go with a PA application, while if you want to copyright a performance, e.g., something you might plan to release on an EP, then the SR app will be more appropriate. (Either can use an audio recording as the record of your copyrighted work!) You can, according to most posts, establish your copyright registration with a SR application that includes your original work; but, waiting until you had your "radio ready" version of a song in the can does add some risk, since you've probably exposed it to others by that time.

FWIW, I submitted 10 songs back in January (another person's works that simply came over and recorded them) with the previous PA application. It was marked closed sometime last week, just short of 4 months. I don't know if the change in rules for that form will speed things up, but limiting the number of separate works can't hurt, though, cynically, it probably increases their revenue marginally.

As everyone stated, you've got a copyright once you write/type something. The problem is that you really don't have any realistic legal recourse without registration. If you're even remotely "in the business" of music, you should probably be registering your work(s), IMO.
 

CoolCat

Well-known member
interesting change, they probably read TAE's post and thought they better change it before no one sent them money anymore..(kiddin)

<deleted old LoC filing info>..
 
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keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
...

reading back in time, I posted a pic that shows SR can copyright both, (Performance and Words and Music = SR for everything only if you did it all).
...
Ask a Music Lawyer: Which copyright forms do I use? How many do I need to fill out?
The link article is dated 2011, so is not something I'd read for an up-to-date interpretation!

And, these things change all the time. The copyright office will continue to tweak this stuff and may change it substantially again, but the current rules are pretty clear (as this non-lawyer read the initial public record) - you cannot submit a group registration for songs/music anymore unless they are unpublished works, and the current limit is 10, which must be individually uploaded, BTW. Whether you use PA or SR, I don't know for sure if it matters in this case, but the Standard Application cannot be used to register a group of published recordings. (Start an application and read the restrictions if you want to confirm this.) I suspect you could upload your album as a single SR (one file), but you won't be able to list the individual songs - at least that's my expectation.

Or, put another way, if you've got a published work, it must be registered individually, and not as part of a group.

Now, the copyright office has continued to not be specific about what "published" actually means in the age of the internet, so you might be able to fudge your way through this if you're able to clean up traces of anything that they might decide means published, but you really don't want to get into a discussion with any government body about whether they are right or wrong about these things, so I'd try to use the system as it is, until it changes (again). Just my (earned) $.02.

Federal Register link from back in February: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-02-13/pdf/2019-02185.pdf

P.S. Given the pace which these applications are processed, you won't be able to search and see what's been registered, and how, for a few months, since this rule took place in March.
 

CoolCat

Well-known member
I suppose 10 song limit wont effect me , but yeah if someone was doing 400 songs under 1 album just to "get a stamp", makes sense.
Im going to delete the 2011 thing above, that's a great point when keeping this "updated" going...delete old references.

Unpublished , the smart thing if interested in copyright is to file it first. PA or SR, ? but a 10 limit is easy to comprehend.
The pro's seem to do PA, each song, keep it clear and focused. There seems to be no confusion that way.

Maybe someone will file a new form and chime in....
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
IF I have to do a 14 song album one song at a time because I've already 'pre-released' versions on youtube or soundcloud, I've just spent more money copyrighting than I will ever get from streaming or hard copy sales! F*ck the US Copyright office and everyone there who makes more than I do and will get a government pension after they do their 20 years!
 
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