A few days ago, the lead singer of a local reggae group called me and asked about copyright laws. He used the same lyrics on two different songs and wasn’t sure how to go about the process. It’s simple. www.Copyright.gov/eCo.
Does it cost money? Yes. $35 per submission.
Can I copyright just my music? Yes.
How about just my lyrics? Yes.
The cover art for the album? Yes.
What about the poor man’s copyright where I mail it to myself? Then you wasted a few stamps. It sounds plausible, but more than likely will not hold up in court.
So what about these websites that say they can copyright it for me? You can go that route and probably pay more or you can take the time to do it yourself and pay less.
What about my band members? If you all created it, then all the names need to be on the filing papers.
Is this why my guitarist only writes songs by himself? Probably not. Some people like to get their thoughts out before introducing outside influence.
So if my guitarist made the music, but I wrote the lyrics, It should only be us on the copyright, right? That depends. Did you two create drums and bass parts for it also? If so, then yes it should be you two. If not, then add the other band members.
So if I copyright my song where i wrote the lyrics and the music, but I leave the band, Can the band still play my song? If you gave them permission, yes.
Ok, so I have a book of lyrics, but no music. Can I copyright that now and then go back and add music later? Yes, but you will be filing a literary form and then a sound recording form so that’s paying $70 for both.
Is the copyright filing per song? It can be. The cheaper option would be to make the album and submit all the songs at once.
Are you a lawyer? No. Not even a paralegal. So it is important to do your own research to make sure you are submitting the correct forms and not leaving out people who may have contributed to your creation. But www.copyright.gov/eCo is where you start.
Conquer the copyright.