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Copyrighting Your Song 101

build your skills Oct 28, 2022

How To Copyright Your Song 

Copyrighting your song becomes extremely important, especially in the times of hundreds of artists recreating it, remixing it, covering it, and so on. Don’t be intimidated by the word ‘Copyright.’ Although many assert that copyrighting is a huge process, it may not be the case always. Copyrighting is legally owning your original creation and protecting it from others claiming your song as theirs. Protecting your music puts you - as the artist - in outright control of how your music is utilized and appropriated by others. Furthermore, you can bring in financial benefits from copyright eminence payouts when your music is utilized by others.



Here is a simplified version of how to get your copyrights in 5 simple steps. Note that while the details and clauses may differ from one country to another, the fundamental rule continues as before - protecting your tune is an essential step for safeguarding your music against copyright infringement and robbery. You can get your copyrights to protect your song lyrics, and full audio production like tracks, jingles, and instrumental pieces. You cannot issue copyrights on incomplete songs, song titles, and chord progressions. 


1. Record/Document Your Music.


It is extremely vital to have a physical copy of your track or music on you, such as a professional recording or a written down document of your music. Converting your musical ideas from paper to a sound recording should be the first and the main step in guaranteeing your music copyright for any music you produce. 



This can be something as insignificant as recording your tune for the random verses you wrote on a piece of paper, making a note of the song on some composition, or utilizing online music equipment to make a vocal or instrumental recording. Get this right, as long as someone will be able to ‘reproduce’ your song in some or the other way, you need to have a copy of your audio, to reiterate the existence of the original. 


2. Be Time-Sensitive


Copyright is a timely issue. Despite the fact that you can contend that copyright exists when a tune or piece of music has been down on paper, the more troublesome errand is really demonstrating when the substantial copy was made. Always have a time-stamped copy. This is particularly significant on account of any possible questions about the 'creativity' or 'ownership' of your work. 


If a case went to court, you'd be expected to create proof that your music existed before any other person replicated it - what's known as a 'time-stamped’ copy. You can do this by releasing your audio, whatever it be, on platforms that keep a record of when you have uploaded your work, for instance, YouTube, Facebook, or even Instagram. These platforms show the date at which you’d have posted or released your track so it becomes easier to claim your copyright with this evidence. 



If you want to avoid chances of these platforms crashing or your accounts shutting down for any reason, sending your music to a legal representative such as an attorney or a music lawyer you trust will get the job done since you will receive a receipt for the same with the date of the submission. One of the old methods is to send yourself a physical copy, and keep the bill with the postal date and address safe. Then, secure the copy and store it someplace safe. That said, this method is outdated for a reason. You can digitally store your copy and lock it as well. 


3. Fill Out Your Forms



It is vital to understand two things about copyrights in music, one, you will have a publishing copyright which is essentially a written legal document, and, two, the master copyright which is the music/tune/sound recording itself. The business treats these two pieces of copyright independently, even in situations where the songwriter and singer or performer are the same individual. However, the different treatment stays away from any possible lawful issues. 


Assuming you're the single proprietor of both the written piece as well as sound recording, you just have to finish up one structure - SR. You can fill in details of authorship/ownership in the form as well. Form SR - stands for Sound Recording, while Form PA accounts for Performing Arts under USCO - United States Copyright Office.



If you're protecting your own music, you can submit more than one tune under one application at the expense of one application only! This is great if you're protecting a whole collection or EP and it'll save you a lot of cash and desk work as opposed to enrolling every track independently. Furthermore, this little expense is worth the effort multiple times over in the event that you were ever to go to government court over your music.


In India, you could copyright your music under Copyright Act 1957. Here, however, a song is not considered as a whole, but as a sum of different parts for which different artists could take credit, for example, lyricists (under Section 2(d)(i)), composers (under Section 2(d)(ii)), singers (Section 2(qq)), and producers (under Section 2(d)(v)). 


For enlistment of copyright, Form XIV is the application to be filled alongside its recommended expense to the Registrar of Copyrights. Form XIV is to be applied by the artist. In the event that the owner applies for copyright, he ought to record the No Objection Certificate (NOC) by different creators, for example, lyricist or composer, or maker, if any, associated with making the tune. The application can be presented to the Registrar or can be filed online through the Government Of India website. 


4. Do The Splits



When multiple artists are involved in making a song, make sure you divide the credits for the contribution each has made. How the cash is split between the distributors or publishers and the makers is down to how the real song is being utilized. Remember - on the chance that you're an independent artist you'll possess the entirety of the copyright. However, in the event that you're in a band or there are various musicians, then, at that point, you'll have to document this, to ensure various bits of the copyright are genuinely dispersed.



While you - the recording artist - will receive the benefits from mechanical royalties, in the event that it's an actual deal, for example, a Compact Disc or vinyl, the business standard split is 91% to the expert and around 9% to the distributing. 


Speaking of royalties, do read our blog article on How Music Royalties Work.


5. Get Your Money


After your legal processes are done and copyrights are well-established for your song, you can start earning money through the copyright. It gives you full proprietorship or ownership privileges to your music and keeps any mean individuals from taking or replicating your work. 



Also, it requires you to give your consent for others to record, disseminate, test, or play out your tune. You can earn through Copyright Royalty Payouts, each time another artist wants to perform or sample your tune. Simply ensure you're joined with the right music society so you're getting owed all the copyright eminences you're expected.


Copyrighting your music make all the difference, because if something that is original to you, is openly used by another and takes credit for authenticity for it, then what is the point of making that music? So go, get your copyrights done as soon as you’re done composing that song! 

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