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Copyright Q&A for July 2012

Copyright Q&A for July 2012

By Christian Copyright Solutions on July 26, 2012

Here is  a question we received for our monthly Copyright Q&A feature. Answers are provided by the CopyrightSolver.com Team. Feel free to email us your questions to copyright[at]allaboutworship.com or tweet them to @allaboutworship w/ hashtag #copyright. We answer as many as we can here on our site once a month.

Question: I am a songwriter but I don’t sing or play any instruments. My songs have melodies. How do I copyright my songs?

Answer: To register your songs, you can go to the U.S. Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov. You will need to set up an account on the site, complete their forms and submit a deposit of your songs with a $35.00 payment.

The deposit of your work must be in a format that gives some tangible representation of your words and lyrics. If you don’t play an instrument, you still have several acceptable options. One way is to create a recording of the song being performed a cappella. Although this provides no instrumental accompaniment, your words and melodies--the necessary elements--will still be represented in this format. Or, you could create a lead sheet (or have someone do it for you) which is a written representation of the melody’s musical notation and lyrics.

Sometimes individuals, churches, or ministries try to circumvent the formal copyright registration process by using a “poor man’s copyright.” Essentially, this practice entails sending yourself a copy of your work and preserving a sealed, postmarked copy. Under federal copyright law, there is no such thing as a “poor man’s copyright.” Individuals should be cautioned from utilizing this type of procedure as it does not take the place of formal registration and does not afford the same benefits as formal registration. While copyright exists immediately upon fixation of the creative work to a physical form, registration establishes it in the public record, provides a certificate of authorship, and allows the copyright owner to seek damages if infringement occurs.

Many songwriters, worship leaders and churches are confused by the copyright registration process and/or don’t have the time and resources to devote to acquiring the proper copyrights. CopyrightSolver’s INDIEadmin Service can simplify the process for you. For one low fee CopyrightSolver will take care of the details of registering your songs with the U.S. Copyright Office, CCLI and a Performing Rights Organization (ASCAP, BMI or SESAC). To learn more about how CopyrightSolver’s INDIEadmin Service can assist you in registering your songs, go to www.copyrightsolver.com/register.

The CopyrightSolver answers provided are information, not legal advice. For more information and resources, including fact sheets, videos and idea kits, visit www.copyrightsolver.com. Use promo code “ABOUTWORSHIP” to receive 10% off your initial fees for CopyrightSolver 's PERFORMmuisc and WORSHIPcast Licenses, PERMISSIONSplus Service and INDIEadmin Service.
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