How to Copyright Music

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How to copyright music by registering online

Knowing how to copyright music serves to prove authorship of artistic and creative works and gives the author(s) exclusive rights to that work. Copyright of a song exists naturally whenever your creative thoughts are captured in a tangible and fixed format (e.g. written down, sketched, recorded, etc). Below you’ll find information on how to copyright music online.

How to copyright music

The first step to getting paid for your music (if applicable) is to get it copyrighted. You can get recognised by posting your work to social media sites like SoundCloud, YouTube, Facebook etc. You can also get paid via: licensing, collecting performance rights or signing to a record label, but this can only be done if you can prove that the work you have produced is yours. You won’t receive any money if you haven’t been through the copyright music process.

Before you do any of this you should really ensure that you know how to copyright music efficiently. Your work should be suitably evidenced. Why? Well, many artists fail to take even the most preliminary steps to adequately assign the copyright of their songs.

Copyright myths

  • How to copyright music myth No 1: “I just send a sealed envelope to myself” – You’re thinking about copyright, which is great… but did you know that this has never been accepted as a valid legal form of evidence?
  • How to copyright music myth No 2: “I deposit my work with a solicitor” – You could copyright your work for free with some online companies or PRS, whereas using solicitors will generally cost you money!
  • How to copyright music myth No 3: “It’s on my computer” – Date/time settings can be easily changed on personal computers, any files stored there do not have suitable evidence of creation dates. Computers can also be hacked or catch viruses!

How to copyright music

There are a couple of other makeshift copyright alternatives that songwriters occasionally do. The most popular is called the “Poor Man’s Copyright.” This is when you physically mail a recording of your song to yourself via certified mail and keep it sealed. Supposedly the postmark on the envelope will date your music and therefore protect you if someone comes along after that and steals your song. A newer version of this idea is simply putting your song on YouTube or another time-stamped social media outlet. The idea is that your music is dated and therefore protected by the time stamp on the social media site.

Their ideas may make sense to you, but if it ever came down to a court battle, you would absolutely want your music properly registered. Especially considering the fact that it’s really not that expensive or free. Taking the proper means to protect your music is something all artists should do as they move forward with their music careers.

How do I register online?

PRS provides an online service, which they state you are only required to register music which has been or is about to be recorded, broadcast or performed. Which of course you should receive money for the latter two but you will have to set up an account with PRS which is well worth doing.