Interestingly, copyright laws state that as soon as you create your own song, it is copyrighted just for existing—in other words, the copyright immediately rests in the hands of the creator. However, if a conflict arises and you need to provide proof that you own the song, there are several simple steps you can take to make sure you will be able to do this.
Step 1: Create a copy
This is as simple as putting a copy of your song on some sort of memory device, such as a CD or a USB drive. If you have already recorded your song, then chances are you’ve already done this. You will need this tangible documentation to submit in the next step.
Step 2: Register and submit your request for copyright on the United States Copyright Office Library of Congress Website
You will need to visit the US. Copyright Office website, located at copyright.gov. Here, you will need to do the following:
- Register for a free account
- Fill in the pertinent details about your copyright request – You will need to “Register a new claim” and then you will be prompted to complete a digital form, where you will be required to fill in all necessary information
- Attach digital documentation of the song you wish to copyright
- Submit – Note that there is a lag time of about five months between the time you submit your copyright request and the time it is issued to you.
Step 3: Payment
There is a one-time $35 fee for applying for a copyright, but, if you consider the benefits of this negligible fee and the protections it offers, it’s quite worth it.
Alternative Method: Applying for Song Copyright by Mail
If you wish to do things the old-fashioned way, this method may be used. It’s more time-consuming and tedious, but it is also a viable method.
Step 1: Obtain proper forms
This may be accomplished at the aforementioned website, copyright.gov – however, if you’re opting for this method, chances are internet usage is out of the question, in which case you would need to call (202) 707-3000. This is the number to the US Copyright Office. They will be able to send you the proper forms.
Step 2: Carefully read form directions
- The form can be slightly confusing, so take care that you read each piece of information listed on it.
- If you get confused, you can always call the US Copyright Office at the number listed in Step 1 and they will gladly walk you through it.
Step 3: Submit form
- You will need to provide your own postage for this method, and the form will tell you what dollar amount you should enclose along with your documentation.
- Most importantly, you’ll want to include a digital copy of your song—otherwise, they won’t know for what specific work you’re requesting copyright!
Being a musician is hard work, and it’s even harder if you must constantly worry about your work being taken from under your nose. Follow this process to copyright your song, and you will be doing yourself a huge protective favor.