How to Secure Copyright for Your Music – Comprehensive Guide
Securing copyright for your music is a crucial step for independent musicians, providing ownership, protection, and earning potential. In this guide, we’ll outline the basics of music copyright, explain the two types of copyright, and delve into the process of registering your copyright. Additionally, we’ll explore how copyright can be leveraged to generate income as a songwriter, artist, or producer.
Understanding Music Copyright: Copyright signifies ownership of intellectual property and grants exclusive rights to the owner(s), including the right to earn money from the intellectual property. In the music realm, this applies to both compositions (music and lyrics) and sound recordings (specific recorded versions of music and lyrics).
Two Types of Music Copyright:
1. Composition: Owned by songwriters and/or publishers, covering the music and lyrics.
2. Sound Recording: Owned by artists or labels, representing a specific recorded version of the music and lyrics.
When You Own Your Copyright: Technically, you own your musical copyright the moment you capture the composition or recording in a fixed medium. However, registering your copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office provides enhanced benefits, including the ability to file a lawsuit and potentially receive significant compensation for infringement.
The Myth of “Poor Man’s Copyright”: The outdated practice of sending a composition or recording to oneself via certified mail (poor man’s copyright) is ineffective in providing proof of copyright. The Supreme Court ruling mandates registration with the U.S. Copyright Office for legal standing in case of infringement.
Why Register Your Copyright: Registering your copyright provides ultimate leverage in case of content misuse. The updated regulations require registration before filing a lawsuit, offering the ability to claim up to $150,000 plus attorney fees per deliberate infringement. Early registration is crucial for maximizing legal benefits.
How to Register Your Copyright: To legally register copyright in the USA, you can either directly register with the U.S. Copyright Office or use services like Cosynd, which streamline the process. Cosynd offers user-friendly registration, allowing you to register multiple songs on one application and is cost-effective compared to other services.
Earning Money from Sound Recordings: Owning the rights to a sound recording grants control over master rights, enabling the granting of master licenses. Income streams include streaming and download royalties, sync licensing, royalties from radio play, and physical format sales (vinyl, CDs).
Earning Money from Composition Copyright: Songwriters can earn income through performance royalties collected by performing rights organizations (PROs) for radio play, public performances, and live performances. Mechanical royalties, generated from reproductions, are collected through agencies like the Harry Fox Agency. The recent increase in the mechanical royalty rate for interactive streaming benefits songwriters.
Royalties for Recording Artists: Recording artists can earn royalties from satellite and internet radio play through Soundexchange. Artists are also entitled to compulsory licensing fees when others want to record cover versions of their songs.
Exploiting Your Copyright: Beyond traditional revenue streams, copyright can be leveraged through sync licensing for use in movies, TV shows, or YouTube videos.
Sync licensing also applies to cover songs on YouTube, where Content ID helps track and monetize unauthorized uses.
Closing Thoughts: Understanding the nuances of music copyright is essential for maximizing income from your creative work. Leveraging services like Cosynd and exploring additional revenue streams, such as sync licensing, can contribute to a sustainable and profitable music career