Post #34 of ANNIE B.’s D.I.Y. MAGAZINE: How To Copyright Your Songs
I had 2 different people ask me how to copyright songs at a gig I played yesterday at Honda of Kenosha. It was a great show, and I think everyone at the Honda Event had a great time! I’ve decided to post this copyright information here on this blog, so I can refer people to it anytime!!! PLEASE feel free to send a link to this page to your songwriter friends!!!
First off, you can copyright a GROUP of songs… you DO NOT have to copyright each song individually. At least 50 songs can be copywritten at one time. I’m not sure if you can copyright more, but with the preferred form (Form CO), you are provided up to 50 spaces for different song titles. (If you have as many as 50 songs that you need to copyright, I think it’s best to protect them asap!!!)
The basics are here: http://www.copyright.gov/forms/
To explain it to you, the form you need to copyright & protect the basic music & lyrics is Form PA, and it’s $65 to use this form. You print it out and after you’ve filled it out, send it in with the fee, your CD and lyrics: http://www.copyright.gov/forms/formpa.pdf
For $50, Form CO replaces Form PA if you use it correctly: You fill this form out ONLINE, THEN print it out after it’s all filled out online, then & sign it. Send it in with the fee, your CD and lyrics… here is the link: http://www.copyright.gov/forms/notice.html – you need to download the form (there’s a link at the bottom) and then fill it out online, etc. The instructions are right there. For copyrighting your basic songs, check the “Performing Arts” box in section 1a. (Then, when you’ve recorded the song professionally with full production, drums, bass guitar, harmonies, or any other things the song called for when you were in the studio, all these “sounds” will be protected when you copyright the song AGAIN, this time using From SR. If you only have a fully-produced song to copyright, you may as well use Form SR, or Form CO with function of protecting the sound recording. This will protect both the basic song [music & lyrics] AND all the extra “bells & whistles” in your fully produced recording.)
OK, so this will protect the basic melodies and lyrics. This should be done as soon as you have a number of songs that you can send in (even if it’s only a few songs… although you can certainly copyright just one song,) which will protect you if anyone hears it and tries to steal it by hearing it on a YouTube performance of the basic song by the artist, or at a live performance.
Once the song is recorded professionally, you need to protect the full production sounds, including guitar licks and other “sounds” you need to protect. (A great example here is the bass line on “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie, but Vanilla Ice never got permission to use it. No lawsuit was filed, but it is likely that Vanilla Ice agreed to pay Queen and Bowie a settlement. According to industry insider Hans Ebert, Brian May of Queen first heard this song in a disco in Germany. He asked the DJ what it was, and learned that it was #1 in the US. – Source: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1414. If you, a relatively unknown artist comes up with a cool “sound” on the recording of your song, you’ll be glad you have protected it with Form SR in case you ever hear someone sample or steal your work. Form PA only protects the basic melodies -generally of the words- and lyrics.)
OK, so after professionally recording the song with full production, you should fill out form SR (it’s recommended you use Form CO for this also, but you’ll check the “Sound recording” box in section 1a).
If you want to use the “old” Form SR, that’s right here: http://www.copyright.gov/forms/formsr.pdf
Form CO has kind of replaced forms PA & SR, and it’s cheaper to use, so I recommend doing it that way. My guess is that CO Forms are probably processed quicker at the Copyright Office as well.
If you have ANY questions, please feel free to send me a message via this website… I am more than willing to help!
In other news, I’m VERY EXITED that I’ll be singing our national anthem for the Dec. 31, 2010 Milwaukee Wave Game against the Missouri Comets (major league indoor soccer) at the U.S. Cellular Arena in downtown Milwaukee. A friend will be videotaping the performance so hopefully it will be up on my homepage soon afterward. I was fortunate enough to be asked to perform at a high-school basketball game & charity event a few weeks ago, and The Milwaukee Wave was sponsoring the event. I sang the national anthem before that basketball game, and the Milwaukee Wave Goalkeeper Coach, Mark Litton, came up to me after the event, bought one of my CDs, and told me he’d try and help me get a date to sing our anthem before a Wave Game. He was able to hook it up (Thanks, Mark!!!) and now I’m very excited about the opportunity! Hope to see you at the game! Just more evidence of how important it is to JUST BE OUT THERE as a singer/songwriter! Never pass up good opportunities to perform, especially if there could be some important people there!
Been very busy with finding new venues and putting together a permanent lineup for my original band. I also starting playing with a Guns N’ Roses Tribute band, and that’s been a lot of tun! Be sure to check out my schedule at AnnieBMusic.com/showdates/ to see when that band is playing if you’re a fan of GnR!
Hope to see you soon!