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Copyright Music in Order to Protect Future Profits
If you are a budding artist seeking to copyright music that you have labored over, there is good news. Many people confuse copyrighting music with registering music and they are two different things. According to the law in the United States, once you have written or recorded your music in a permanent form, it is copyrighted.
Of course, it might help to first understand what it means to copyright music in the first place. A copyright is a certain legal protection that is offered to those who compose creative works. Whether those works be art, music, or the written word. According to the U. S. constitution there are limits that can be placed on the amount of time that the work is exclusively protected.
If you copyright music, this means that you and you alone have the right to use your work or allow others to use your work. You also have the right to distribute copies of your work. Whether those copies are in the form of written or sheet music or recorded music to the public as well as the right to perform your music for the public.
There is something called fair use that despite your copyright; music written or recorded by you may be used for the purpose of research, news reporting, commentary, or criticism. In other words, there are times when the use of copyrighted material is deemed appropriate without the consent of the one holding the copyright.
To copyright music alone is not enough in many cases to protect your music, at least not without going through a lot of hoops in order to do so. One of the things you can do in order to protect your copyright is provide notice of copyright. This is a simple step that includes writing a simple statement to the effect of the word "copyright", the date, and your name at the bottom of your sheet music or on the case for the recording or the actual recording itself. CD's are the most common means for recording devices today and a notice of copyright can easily be added to the exterior of your CD or on your label if you have one printed.
In case you are wondering: why copyright music? The answer is rather simple, so others cannot take credit for your creative genius. For an added layer of protection you may want to consider registering your copyright as well. Registering your copyright will provide you with formal legal documentation of your ownership of your music should anyone else attempt to lay claim to your music or any other dispute about true ownership/authorship come about.
You must have your copyright registered if you wish to file a copyright infringement suit and it is, in my humble opinion, better to not only copyright music early on but also to register your copyright before it could possibly become an issue. Registering while not entirely painless is not as difficult a process as you might think. Basically it involves filling out an application, paying a filing fee (check with the U. S. Copyright Office for the current amount), and a copy of the work being protected (this will not be returned).
It's also important to remember that your music doesn't have to be published in order for you to obtain a copyright. Music should be copyrighted and registered long before the publication process in order to protect your rights as the creator of the music. Whether you are dabbling with cute little limericks or writing masterpieces and concertos or are rock and rolls next super star you want to make sure to copyright music earlier rather than later for the best possible outcome should problems arise.
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