Author Topic: Help needed on copyright alternatives  (Read 5527 times)

Wayne Higgins

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Help needed on copyright alternatives
« on: November 08, 2008, 08:56:09 AM »
I hope everyone responds to this in someway.

I have had a big problem registering copyrights lately.  I think it is because, like every other government, organization, extreme workload coupled with budget cuts.  Result is an overworked office.

I sent in a disc in January, they have cashed the check, probably registered the copyright, but I still havn't gotten the form with the registration number.

It's not like things are flying off the shelves here, but I have finished 5 discs (one is a double set) that I have not submitted because of the cost and the felling of throwing it into the fileroom in Wahsington, DC where it will become lost forever.

Truth is, registering a copyright doesn't mean no one will steal it.  It just means that if they do, you can say "J'acusse!"  You still have to go to court and the thought of anyone stealing my music is almost silly as anyone actually listening to it.

SO........... the question is:  What alternatives are availble?
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ffcal

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Re: Help needed on copyright alternatives
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2008, 10:05:10 AM »
Oenyaw,

You don't actually actually have to formally register your copyright, though it is recommended that you do.  One thing you could do (though it does not offer you as much protection) is to mail a sealed copy of the disc to yourself.  The postmark date on your sealed package would be evidence of your claim to a common law copyright (assuming, of course, that you claimed a copyright on the liner notes of the disc itself).

Forrest

mgriffin

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Re: Help needed on copyright alternatives
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2008, 10:12:50 AM »
What are you actually hoping to accomplish by submitting CDs to the copyright office?  That's completely unheard of, at least at this level of music -- maybe major labels do it, but I doubt it.  You hold the copyright to your work whether or not your submit a copy of your work to the copyright office.  Seriously, you're wasting your time and money with that.  Release your music into the world, and if some other artist tries to release your work under their own name, it will be the first time I've ever heard of this happening... and even then, you would have as much freedom to assert your rights as copyright holder, as if you had sent in the payment and forms to the US copyright office.  Unless you believe that there is someone who is going to steal your work, present it as their own, and when confronted by you about it, assert that you're lying and that the work is actually theirs, and be willing to dispute your ownership of the work in court... then you shouldn't bother.

I think the answers you will receive here will indicate that all indie artists and labels are putting the words "copyright 2008 by Hypnos Recordings" or whatever year, and copyright holder's name works for them, inside the booklet of their CD releases somewhere, and that's that.  You can use the word "copyright" or "c." or the little "c enclosed in a circle" symbol and it has the same effect.  It says you are asserting your copyright on the work, and nobody is going to mess around with that.  Believe me, the threat that you could sue them if they slapped their name on your recording and released it, is far more compelling than whatever amount of money they might stand to gain by selling your music under their name.
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Seren

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Re: Help needed on copyright alternatives
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2008, 07:43:26 AM »
Perhaps I am wrong, but if I have a CDR or hard drive with a piece of music on it that has a fiie created date with it - that shows when it was created by me, everyone elses date will be after mine, therefore it is mine?

I had also heard of the post it to yourself route, but had not realised about the symbol being effective on covers - will read and learn...

Wayne Higgins

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Re: Help needed on copyright alternatives
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2008, 09:51:45 AM »
All this is true, but the question I have about copyright registration is due to an instance where I was asked for a copyright registration number to include the piece on a compilation disc.  If this happens on again (which the party in question has asked me to send more music), then what are the options.  I know there is a "royalty free" registration method out there.

Maybe I'm just a bit paranoid (after meeting the man formerly named "Famous Amos") and I tend to put up my shields when there is no enemy ships in sight.  It's a blonde/Cancer thing, ya know.
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mgriffin

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Re: Help needed on copyright alternatives
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2008, 10:03:44 AM »
My point is only that it's not necessary to register your creative work anywhere, or pay any money to anyone, in order to be protected by copyright.

Including the statement of copyright in the printed materials doesn't give you any different kind of copyright -- you still hold copyright to your work without it -- but it's a good idea to show anybody who might be thinking of infringing that you understand and assert your rights.

If you're talking about a trade name worth lots of money, like if you think you've got the next Google or Sears or Apple on your hands, then by all means register your trademark, hire a lawyer to make sure you've filed the right papers in the right places.
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Scott M2

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Re: Help needed on copyright alternatives
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2008, 11:09:46 AM »
All this is true, but the question I have about copyright registration is due to an instance where I was asked for a copyright registration number to include the piece on a compilation disc.  If this happens on again (which the party in question has asked me to send more music), then what are the options. 

The compilation person/people are probably just looking to cover their own paranoid butts.
I would think that a clear statement from you, perhaps in writing, that you are the sole copyright owner
of your piece would satisfy their requirements.

darkenedsoul

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Re: Help needed on copyright alternatives
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2008, 07:24:21 PM »
I was going to go that route, send 2 copies along with the paperwork but I never got around to doing it. i do include the copyright statement on my CD artwork as well as somewhere on the inserts (usually inside and rear covers).

My question goes to Mike G. about trademark. I had a kid tell me he had a prj/band prior to mine and that he copyrighted his music (I think he said he did the mail thing). Problem is here are lots of bands with the same names (some change them due to being pursued legally I assume and had to change it). The kid was probably blowing smoke as I never heard from him again and this is going back awhile ago. Trademarking a) isn't cheap and b) if you find it is trademarked already it costs you to do it all over again when you pick a different name. I don't know if a lawyer makes that any easier, but I'm certain more costlier!  As an Indie artist I don't worry too much on this as I don't make diddly as it is anyways....lol.


jkn

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Re: Help needed on copyright alternatives
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2008, 07:46:21 AM »
I've read a number of articles over the years and all have disputed the "mail a copy to yourself" copyright plan as being needless and not standing up in sourt anyway.   I remember reading a series of musician's legal issues from some entertainment lawyer - years ago now.   

You have copyright over everything you create at the point of creation.  Proving it is a bit tougher - and we'd need a real lawyer to really weigh in on it. 

At our level of the music business - it seems like an unnecessary step to register each song. 
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ffcal

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Re: Help needed on copyright alternatives
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2008, 11:43:34 AM »
While it's true that the "mail it to yourself" approach is not a substitute for copyright registration, I think that the postmarked sealed envelope would at least be some evidence that the piece was in existence as of that date.  A general resource book like "This Business of Music" would probably have a discussion of the pros and cons of copyright registration.  I remember that the "mail it to yourself" approach was pretty common in the DIY-80s, but maybe it only served as a placebo.  I've checked Randall Wixen's 2005 book, "The Plain and Simple Guide to Music Publishing," and he recommends formal copyright registration, because registration is required before you can bring a copyright infringement suit in federal court and registration is prima facie evidence that you are the owner.  The copyright registration fee is pretty nominal and the copyright forms are not all that complicated, so it shouldn't be that big of a deal to register, anyway.

An FAQ on the copyright office website also suggests that registration would enable you to claim attorney's fees from the other side in the case of a post-registration infringement.  This is no small thing.

Forrest