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

CoolCat

Well-known member
If you read TAE's posts its really clear whats going on. Great real-world posts....

So if timestamped /home sent proof of creation date posted in a digital realm to yourself or soundcloud or youtube etc... its your creation proof of date. A person doesn't need the US LoC form. As I understand TAE, "Only" if someone makes a big hit from your tune / work, is when you can file then, to get your US Gov Copyright that is required so you can sue in Federal Court.

I think that's the misunderstood vibe by many of us HR writers, that the USGov Copyright paper is a race to have it copyrighted first!! Making us invincible from lawsuits! Earliest date stamp race with the US Gov! But as TAE mentions the real world situation, where like most things it comes down to Lawyers and Money making a lawsuit unlikely anyway...and in the end..the Lawyer is the only one who made money. ( like my divorce? hmmm)...you can sue or be sued with or without the US Gov form.

My trend data, of decades, shows I will not need to sue anyone for any of my songs being stolen by anyone.

Makes sense lawsuits only happen to the big money songs. Netflix has a new show about the rip-off that happened with When The Lion Sleeps Tonight....the African family got some money finally, but seems they drank it away and wanted more but it wasn't happening. Interesting show.
 

VomitHatSteve

Hat STYLE. Not contents.
So if timestamped /home sent proof of creation date posted in a digital realm to yourself or soundcloud or youtube etc... its your creation proof of date. A person doesn't need the US LoC form. As I understand TAE, "Only" if someone makes a big hit from your tune / work, is when you can file then, to get your US Gov Copyright that is required so you can sue in Federal Court.

I'm glancing through the copyright office's documentation, and this seems right. You have copyright immediately, but you can't sue until it's registered.

It also looks like (Section II B), if an album consistently has the same owner of both music and lyrics then it can still be registered as a single work.
They made it so that if you do the pop - use a ton of writers per song - thing, you have to register those songs separately because the album registration wasn't fine-grained enough.
 
CoolCat- Im with you. this is unnecessary nowadays.

Just publish it through. . anyone.
BandCamp. YouTube. SoundCloud. Wherever. And press a CDR with datestamps.

Then... when you think your UNIQUE idea got ripped off by Farrell... you have all the proof you need.

Plus- you are WAY more likely to get some listens that way.. or maybe even someone wanting to licence a sample!
$55 to register your copyright?! IMO that is a waste of $55. Publishing with CD Baby will get you the same protection for $35.

0.2

That method will not hold up legally. Suppose you have a singer or a guitar player play on your song. You record it. They go home and post a fast live version of them performing the song. I’m sure it happens. The fact that they posted it on YT first doesn’t hold much weight. You are bypassing the entire registration process put in place by your government. I wouldn’t take that chance.
 

TAE

All you have is now
A good read on this topic posted on the American Bar Associations website...damn lawyers :eek:

Debunking copyright myths

Looks like I was incorrect about you can register once you have been infringed on and then sue...You can but if you wait more than 3 months from original publication....you lose certain legal advantages.... So to summarize if you write something and put it out on the internet and don't register it with the U.S. copyright office within 90 days of first publication you still have the right to sue but lose some parts of the power that comes with a timely applied for copyright..So yeah it is a crap shoot...how many times have you heard a famous songwriter say .."Yeah I really didn't like the song , I wasn't going to put it on the album. I had no idea it was going to be a hit"...that happens a lot...So in retrospect I guess the legally prudent move is to register your songs with the U.S. copyright office if you want to legally CYA so you can sue someone if they blatantly use part of or steal your song and publish it as theirs... below is the snippet that seals the deal on the 90 days after you put it out on the internets thing....

An author cannot bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement, however, without a certificate of registration from the Copyright Office. The U.S. Supreme Court recently affirmed in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC that a registration of copyrights, and not merely an application filed with the Copyright Office, is required in order to file a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement. Similarly, unless the application for registration of copyrights is filed with the Copyright Office within three months of first publication of the work or prior to infringement, certain valuable remedies are not available to the copyright holder—including the right to receive statutory damages up to $150,000 per work infringed, attorney fees and costs, injunctions, and impounding and disposition of infringing articles.
 

TAE

All you have is now
OK Clear as mud..

So for full protection in one place they say you have to register two copyrights one for the sound recording and one for the musical composition and then they say you can in some cases register both together...as per the snippet pasted below...I got this from this page on the U.S. Copyright office website..

Musical Compositions Versus Sound Recordings....A musical composition and a sound recording are two separate works. A registration for a musical composition covers the music and lyrics, if any, embodied in that composition, but it does not cover a recorded performance of that composition. This circular provides information about registering musical compositions with the U.S. Copyright Office. It introduces the difference between a musical composition and a sound recording under copyright law and offers guidance about• Completing a copyright application• Submitting a deposit• Registering multiple unpublished musical compositions Copyright Registration for Musical Compositions
Copyright Registration for Musical Compositions For example, the song “Rolling in the Deep” and a recording of Aretha Franklin singing “Rolling in the Deep” are two distinct works. The song itself (i.e., the music and the lyrics) is a musical composition, and a recording of an artist performing that song is a sound recording. In most cases, a musical composition and a sound recording must be registered separately with the Copyright Office. However, in limited circumstances, a sound recording and the underlying musical composition can be registered with one application, filing fee, and deposit. For information about registering a sound recording, see Circular 56. For information about registering a musical composition together with a sound recording, see 56 a
 
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keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
OK Clear as mud..

So for full protection I guess you have to register two copyrights one for the sound recording and one for the musical composition...
I kind of said that a while back. But, you only have to do the SR if you really want to protect the performance, e.g., if you belong to a PRO and expect to receive your $0.05 check for plays on the radio, or against being sampled and put in someone else's work, etc.

And, a lot of folks just the SR and skip the PA, because the sound recording does establish the date you obtained a copyright. But you have to be aware of time limitations as noted in your prior post. (Note, this is NOT what big name, signed artists do - they get a PA and SR for the "album" both. That's part of why new albums take so long to release IMO - getting all the legal ducks lined up).
 

TAE

All you have is now
Hmmm in this instructional video on their website it appears we can somehow submit as many as 20 songs on one application...howsabout that? They state this @ 3:13 into the video below

And there is a way that it covers both the sound recording and the composition...

[video]https://stream-media.loc.gov/copyright/gruw.mp4[/video]

OK not sure how many of ya have listened to Ari before but he's an interesting music marketing guru out here in La La land.... Here's his spin on this 20 song thing.... as I understand it you can only do this if you and only you wrote and performed the songs and they have not been "published"

Ari's Take He links to the same video I posted above...
 
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Mickster

Well-known member
TAE....yes...you can copywrite a collection of songs....such as an album. (It doesn't HAVE to be an album....but it could be.) I've done that. You have the ability to copywrite both the SR and PA....or either. It was cheaper and easier IMO.

Mick
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
The SR has a 20 song limit but a PA group is limited to 10 songs. The author(s) must be the same for every piece in the group. You can use a SR to obtain a copyright of the embedded work, and skip the PA, but you have to do this carefully, so read all the fine print.
 
Keith, TAE and others ==

This is my thread. I'm the OP. I can't believe this thing has expanded to nine pages! Wow. I haven't received an email notification since Page 2 or 3... :eek:

I'll be reading this whole thread carefully (and gratefully) with emphasis on the latter pages since those stand on the shoulders of earlier pages, and therefore should be the most accurate.

Before I read your helpful advice, I would like to say:

I'm not a prolific writer. I write instinctively and from the heart, so I can't just sit down and crank out a ten-song compilation to take advantage of the Copyright Office's lame pricing scheme. And as is the case with many creative people, money's always tight around here.

Assuming the vast majority of music copyright documentation is now submitted and stored digitally, there's very little for the Copyright Office to actually do. Therefore, the cost of filing an individual copyright should be drastically reduced. But wait! That would make it possible for people like me to protect ourselves. 'Can't have that! The Federal Gov't is now deeply intertwined with gigantic enterprises, many of them purely globalist. As such, it appears to me that our government now works against the interests of the individual, and instead protects the interests of monopolistic mega-corporations by making it difficult to impossible for individuals to compete.

If this were anybody else's thread, I wouldn't mention any of this, but it's my thread, so I've taken the liberty of a minor rant. If YOU have an opinion about such things, as the OP I WELCOME your comments (pro or con) in this thread.
 
Thank you, TAE, for the very helpful links.

Regarding Ari's Step-by-Step article:

He describes how to register songs that were written by the same person/people, the recordings of which belonging to that same person or people. "Like a band. Or like just you, yourself. This cost-saving process (20 songs for $85) only works if all songs are written [and owned] by the same person (or people)."

I get all that, but THIS is the part that I don't understand:

"These songs can NOT have been released yet. You have to do this BEFORE you release this album."​
We need a very, very clear understanding of the term "released."

1. If I post a song on YouTube, does THAT constitute my having RELEASED the song?
2. If I post a song on BandCamp, does THAT constitute my having RELEASED the song?

If either case does qualify as a "release" of the song, then I cannot take advantage of the 20 for $85 pricing, despite my being the one-and-only writer and owner. Am I right? If I am right, the best course of action would be to combine twenty songs into a single submission BEFORE posting ANYTHING to YouTube.

But who does that? I think nobody does that.

We also need a very, very clear understanding of the term "publishing."
How does publishing compare to releasing?

Gee, do you think maybe they make this stuff incredibly complicated and confusing on purpose...?
 
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Regarding the American Bar Assn article linked here by TAE:

The following paragraph appears at the end of the Myth #3 section

So, while copyright registration is not technically required, paying the current application fee of $35 (for a single work by an individual author who is also the claimant, with an electronic application) or $55 (for all other electronic applications)16 is a bargain to entitle the copyright holder to all of these benefits. Anyone who posts a work on an Internet website without first registering it (see myth #1) risks unauthorized use for which enforcement options would be limited.

That suggests that posting on YouTube, Bandcamp or any other online outlet before registering the copyright for that work, is a big mistake.

Two questions:

What does registering it mean?
1. Does it mean you have submitted an application for copyright?
2. Or you have received electronic confirmation from LoC that your submission has been received?
3. Or you have received electronic confirmation from LoC that your submission is now fully registered/certified, a done deal?
4. Or you hold a paper certificate in your hand, confirming that the copyright is fully registered?

How can anyone present material to the public that is TIMELY, CURRENT, A SPONTANEOUS RESPONSE to current events? For example, now does a standup comedian protect his copyright on new material pertaining to whatever is happening right now in the news?
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
...
Assuming the vast majority of music copyright documentation is now submitted and stored digitally, there's very little for the Copyright Office to actually do. Therefore, the cost of filing an individual copyright should be drastically reduced. ...
I'll pass on the rest of the post, but will say that the copyright.gov folks would probably argue that because they still have to do some kinds of checking to insure copyright is not violated, and the size of what must be searched continues to grow without bound, that takes more and more computing power and resources, even assuming they could verify against all the stuff submitted before digitization, much of which is probably not digitized (my guess). Ergo, costs go up.

Honestly, I don't know what they do, or how they might possibly check an SR submission in 2021 that has only an MP3 of a bunch of songs submitted with no digital copy of the words of the songs against a database that probably has handwritten lyrics, LPs, and whatnot. Probably they can't do a lot in cases like that, but even digital song matching of lyrics (embedded in a musical performance) is probably pretty hard. This is not the NSA, after all. The data storage must be staggering - with the pre-digital era originals probably in some place that looks like the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and they probably do have someone sifting through those crates to try and digitize at least some of it.
 
I think the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress probably doesn't do anything with digital submissions.

As you say, how could they possibly check your new digital audio submission against my paper submissions from the 1980s? I think all they do is warehouse the data (yeah, like Raiders of the Lost Arc) and dredge up a record only when a lawsuit is filed.

They just make the certificate and accompanying documentation (digital for the most part) available to the attorneys and the claimant, and that's all. The parties fight it out in court.

I think the Copyright Office is just a clearinghouse and nothing more. Storage in digital form takes almost no space and no work compared to paper docs. Documents that would fill a football stadium can be stored on a couple of SSD drives that would fit in a shoebox. They're inert and they last a long, long time.

Cost should be $5 per song, filed individually.
 

TAE

All you have is now
What does registering it mean?

Not registering...registered...applying for registration is one thing, your registration application being accepted by the Library of congress and registered provides all legal recourse available...( which still means you need a lawyer and that means you wrote a song that made somebody a lot of money...whereas getting registered after 90 days from when it is "published" (I'll get to that) it appears you lose certain rights but not all rights to sue someone for unauthorized use. The one right you lose that really bugged me and caught my attention is that after 90 days from publication I can't recover attorney fees and costs...WTF? Well that what it says on the American Bar website so I am believing that is true...

Published means you put it up on a site like tunecore or distrokid with a price on it for the public to buy...This is what I am understanding after sifting through this BS ...again I am not a lawyer but as I read it, if I post it here on HR.com to show of or on youtube for people to enjoy but no way for me to make money off of it, it isn't "published". This is my understanding today...it was not my understanding yesterday ..yesterday I thought I was safe holding off on getting the copyright no matter what I did with the song including putting it on soundclick and letting people pay 99 cents to download it if they want..Now I know that 90 days from when I do that I lose some but not all of my rights to sue someone who has used my creation without my permission.... Wouldn't that be awesome to be in that position...you wrote a song that made enough money for somebody to make it worth a lawyer going after that lying, cheating, song stealing low life...:D
 

TAE

All you have is now
To go a bit further...applying for a copyright does not automatically give you a US Copyright...thus you can't sue anybody who uses your song without your permission in Federal court...No ...they have do a magic incantation and pretend they listened to the track and deemed it worthy of being registered with the library of congress as your unique and novel creation and send you notice of approval and registration...then and only then do you have a US Copyright ....that and $3 will get you a cup of joe at Starbucks
 

hautbois16

New member
I had to deal with that "separation issue" between a sound recording and the lyrics and print-music for some of the songs I have written. Since I don't have a good way to do a file containing a printable copy of the work, I registered only the recording of my performance of the song. I understand, of course, that in so doing, I have registered only my sound recording of the song. Knowing that lawyers are the one who profit most on a copyright infringement case, I decided to go with the sound recording and consider it not too likely that my song would be stolen.
 

keith.rogers

Bobby'); DROP TABLE USER
I had to deal with that "separation issue" between a sound recording and the lyrics and print-music for some of the songs I have written. Since I don't have a good way to do a file containing a printable copy of the work, I registered only the recording of my performance of the song. I understand, of course, that in so doing, I have registered only my sound recording of the song. Knowing that lawyers are the one who profit most on a copyright infringement case, I decided to go with the sound recording and consider it not too likely that my song would be stolen.
IANAL, but everything I've read (even at the .gov site) implies if not states that your registration of the sound recording has an implicit registration of the song lyrics, i.e., it establishes a date of "copyright" (which you had as soon as you scribbled the lyrics down on the back of a napkin, or whatever).

But, regardless of the level of ability of the government, I suspect they do have the means of checking digital text documents against a growing database of registered songs (just like any teacher can check an essay for plagiarism against the entire internet), so I'd find a way to attach lyrics in a PDF. Do they still have computers you can use at a public library? I would go there and type your songs in on a Google Drive (included with a gmail.com email address) using Google Docs. Download the PDFs and attach those to the submission would be one way.
 
Man! This is a very helpful and productive thread, thanks to you guys (TAE, Keith and several others). I've been reading the latest posts, and while nobody here is a lawyer, there's some great information at hand.

I've been trying to find time to read the most recent four or five pages, and when I finally do, maybe all will be crystal clear for me. If not, I intend to compose The Mother of All (Copyright) Questions, the answer to which will—once and for all—make perfect sense (to me), enabling me to post songs online without fear of pulling back a bloody stump. :eek:

I feel like I'm right on the edge of actually gettin' somethin' done for a change. :D
 

mjbphotos

What?!?
One thing I found out last time I copyrighted an album - if done as a sound recording and it has been reproduced in a physical form (i.e CD, vinyl), you have to send a copy to the LoC.
 
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