FAQ - Why do I need to copyright my songs? Is it necessary to copyright my songs?

Registering your copyrights is not required but it is highly recommended since doing so will give you certain protection under copyright law in case you need to sue someone for using your song without your permission.

Member Comments

Posted by ross bridgeman on 2004-11-12 at 3:56:56 pm

Is that as simple as sending a copy of your music to your own home address and not opening it? Can that suffice or do you need to go through proper legal procedures to copyright your music.

Posted by Jimi Heath on 2004-12-09 at 4:07:33 am

That’s called a poor mans copyright.  I would just pay the 30 bucks and do it the right way.  If you have a catalogue of songs, you can copyright the entire catalogue.

Posted by thundersound on 2004-12-15 at 12:38:50 am

can you copyright unpublished songs, or do they need to be published first?

Posted by Jimi Heath on 2004-12-17 at 5:28:22 pm

you can copyright unpublished songs.  Axctually, until you sign your work with a publisher, you are managing the copyrights, meaning that own the publishing.

Posted by Jeremy Lee Maxwell Meuse- Parker on 2005-01-02 at 7:03:58 pm

Will the poor mans copyright hold up in court as well as the official form??
And what is a catalogue of songs? IS it just all of your songs that i pput all together to copyright them all at once, does it cost $30 to copy it??

Posted by corey levesque on 2005-01-06 at 6:07:22 am

i got a couple of note books of songs i wrote can i do the same just to sell them if i sell them than they arent mine anymore so why copyright?

Posted by Richard Wynne on 2005-03-01 at 2:28:37 am

ive recently found my song was a top five hit in the uk pop charts, however it was not under my name, it wasnt copywritten….all my friends, family and many other people know its my song
is that proof enough to go to litigation.

Posted by Richard Wynne on 2005-03-01 at 2:29:37 am


Posted by Tj on 2010-09-08 at 6:46:17 pm

Hi Im in a new band and Im sorta the manager, and I was curious, how long does it take to get the song copyrighted?

Posted by Gary E. Andrews on 2013-12-15 at 6:19:40 am

Copyright law (United States) is a federal law. Therefore, an allegation of ‘infringement’ of your ‘right’ to ‘copy’ your intellectual property can ONLY be heard in federal court. ONLY registration with the U. S. Register of Copyrights at the Library of Congress will enable you to bring suit in federal court.

Registration enables you to recover attorneys’ fees, which would be a big incentive for a lawyer to take your case. An unscrupulous lawyer might take your money, knowing…or ignorant of…the fact that you do not have a case.

The ‘poor man’s copyright’ (mailing it to yourself) will NOT enable you to get a hearing in federal court. It can serve as an additional document, as backup contemporaneous with your putting of the work into ‘fixed form’, at which time your rights under copyright law are bestowed. But ONLY registration with the copyright office will secure your rights.

If you allege your work has been used without your permission, and if it is making money, you may want to file a registration, even after the fact. If the accused party has registered the work before you, you may have a hard time proving you wrote it and not them. You will have to prove they had ‘access’ to steal the work. You can see how difficult it would be.

A registration is established on the day the work is received by the copyright office. It may take months to get the actual registration form and number back to you, but your registration date will be the date they receive it. http://www.copyright.gov

You can be your own publisher, if you can do the actual work of ‘pitching’ your works to other publishers and artists, getting them recorded and released to market where they can earn royalties. You may market a share of your Publishing Royalties to another publisher, as their incentive to do that work. You own 100% of the rights to the Publishing Royalties and 100% of the Songwriting Royalties.

You can sell your songs to someone for a one-time fee, relinquishing rights to them by whatever terms you can negotiate. You may relinquish your right to claim you wrote the songs. Or you may negotiate the right to continue to make that claim. You may relinquish your ownership of the songs, including your right to claim you wrote them, and ownership of Publishing Royalties and Songwriting Royalties, if any are earned. You take the buyer’s money and walk away. Any terms of the deal should be put in writing, signed and notarized by the parties.

Any exposure of your songs gives ‘access’ for a thief. A song can be worth a fortune, and people steal things worth much less. Copyright registration is the ONLY way to establish your ownership of your intellectual property.

You can register a collection of songs under one fee ($45 the last time I did it, which has been years ago). I submitted cassette tapes (an old recording medium) along with typed lyrics with chord progressions over the words. I titled about 30 songs as “Out of the Woodwork; A collection of songs by Gary E. Andrews.” One fee, and all the protection the law affords by dint of registration. I play them live, with confidence, despite the ease of potential theft by all the modern technology that can capture words and music with ease.

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