Copyright Registration for Musical Compositions

If you aim to pursue a noteworthy career in the music industry as a composer, then you should have apt knowledge of what copyrighting registration for musical composition entails, and how to copyright a song.

Getting copyright on your musical composition gives you the legal backing that’s needed to protect your intellectual work. This affords you the right to seek protection and sue in a case of infringement, theft or unauthorized use.

By having an understanding of the workings of this legal creation, you can know how the law helps you to generate an income from your musical composition and get accolades for your works.


What is copyright registration for musical compositions? 

A copyright on a composed musical gives the owner the full authority to permit another entity with rights to use the piece of music for a specified period. This type of copyright only deals with musical composition and not the sound recording. But what’s the difference?

Musical composition is a legal protection that covers both the music itself and the lyrics to the song(If any), but it doesn’t extend to anyone making a recorded performance of the same composition. Here’s an example to help make sense of that: the song “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele, and the recording done by Aretha Franklin where she sang “Rolling in the Deep” don’t have the same legal recognition. In this instance, only the original song sang by Adele gets the copyright registration for musical compositions.


When does copyright protect your music? 

Anytime a piece of music is composed or written with lyrics and music, the law automatically protects the song.

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, the moment it exists on paper, stored on a computer or recorded on a sound file, the copyright law automatically applies to the piece of music.


Copyright Registration

While a piece of music is automatically protected by law after composition, it’s recommended that you register your musical composition as it provides you with a more exclusive legal protection that’s not obtainable with unregistered work. Some additional rights you’ll get includes:

  • The right to file for infringement on the song
  • The right to obtain fees reimbursement and statutory damages through a court Judgment
  • A public record detailing the copyright claim


Steps to Filing for Copyright Registration

Here are the steps to follow if you’ll like to file for Copyright Registration and enjoy a greater deal of protection on your creative work:

  1. Know what you can copyright 

If you’ve been reading the article from its beginning, you should now have an idea of what you can get copyright registration for and what copyright for musical composition entails. If you just jumped to this section, you should know that you can get copyright registration for written lyrics, recorded sound or any tangible musical creation.


  1. Ensure your work is borne out of your creativity and not a copy

It is only a creative and original contribution by the composers of a song that can be copyrighted. Any part of the music piece should not look too similar to another music piece, and the song must be composed by the composers in an original and unique way. If there are parts of the creation you don’t own, provide some relevant details on parties involved in issuing its permissions and licensing.


  1. Identify the work properly 

To secure a copyright registration, you should properly identify your musical composition. To do that, you should follow this format:

  • The title of your musical composition
  • The date of composing and recording the music piece
  • The year you completed the work

You may be required to submit the names and the contact details of everyone involved in the musical composition.


  1. Submit requisite fee, deposit and certification

Certify that the information you’re submitting is genuine and complete by signing in specified places.

Pay the filing fee and give the U.S. Copyright Office a copy of the musical composition. Fees and deposits can also be paid electronically by visiting the website of the Electronic Copyright Office and following the instructions written there.

You’ll be required to submit copies of your work within a stipulated time frame, failure to submit it attracts a penalty.


In Summary 

Copyright registration is a machination of the government that’s designed to protect your creative work. Before splurging money on creating a website or hosting it on a music streaming platform, it’s best to first get a copyright registration.

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