Are you worried somebody is going come along and steal your hard work? Well worry no more as in this video I’m going to show you how to copyright your music.
This is a question that’s come up a few times in the comments of these DIY Musician Guide videos and I’ve never really been able to give a good answer, because, well, I didn’t really know.
So, I decided to research the topic a bit and put together this video. Please bear in mind that I’m not a lawyer, obviously, so take that into consideration in this most likely too short a video!
Anyway, we’ll quickly cover these 3 questions:
- What Does Copyright Mean in Music?
- How Do I Get My Music Copyrighted?
- How Long Does Copyright last?
Let’s jump in.
What Does Copyright Mean in Music?
When you get your music copyrighted, it prevents other people from using it without your permission.
Basically, if you’re proven to be the copyright owner, the work in question is lawfully protected from outside use.
You as the owner have the exclusive right to perform, display or even lend out copies of that work.
One very interesting thing to note here is that you can’t seem to copyright a song title or chord progression. You can copyright the sound recording, composition and lyrics.
So, now we know what it is and what it can do, but how do we do it?
How Do I Get my Songs Copyrighted?
To start with let’s have a look at the what gov.uk, the UK government services and information website, says about copyright.
Here it states:
You get copyright protection automatically – you don’t have to apply or pay a fee. There isn’t a register of copyright works in the UK.
And then goes on to say what you automatically get copyright protection for, which includes creating ‘musical and artistic work’ and ‘sound and music recordings’.
Now if we go and look at the website for the Performing Rights Society (a company I use who collect music royalties on my behalf) , they also tell us that ‘There is no official method to copyright work in the UK’ but do go on to say that evidence can be created through emails or saved work, basically anything with an official time stamp.
They use the example of mailing yourself a physical version by recorded delivery or storing it in a bank. Obviously, it must be time stamped and sealed to provide any ‘legal proof’.
In the US, it seems to be pretty much the same process, but you can also apply to register your work to strengthen your claim.
And to be fair if you’re interested in copyrighting your music and you live in the US; you should probably go ahead and do that.
How Long Does Copyright Last?
Back to gov.uk where they say ‘Copyright protection starts as soon as a work is created. Once your copyright has expired, anyone can use or copy your work‘. If we have a look at our type of work, music, we can see they state that it lasts 70 years after the author’s death. I’ll definitely not be around then.
I’ve literally scratched the surface of this topic so if there is anyone out there who’d like to add anything I’ve missed or got wrong, please do comment below.
Anyway, I’ll end that there then. As ever if you want to see more videos like this, please like and subscribe and I’ll see you next time!