Standard disclaimer first, the following information is for educational purposes only and shouldn’t be interpreted as legal advice. Not to mention that the information I write might just very well be dated before I even post it, let alone by the time you may be reading this. Caveat emptor!
If you’re a composer, you may be wondering if you should copyright your music. A “copyright” is a legal term that protects the owner of a creative work to control the broadcasting, performance, publication, or recording of that work. So if you compose a piece of music, someone else can’t come along and publish that work without your permission, or claim that they were the composer of your music. For composers, copyrighting your music is essential to legally protect your work from theft.
In the United States, copyright registration is handled by the U. S. Copyright Office, but you don’t need to register your work in order to enjoy the copyright protection. The moment your work is fixed in a tangible form (such as sheet music or compact disc recording) your composition is legally copyrighted. Registration with the Copyright Office creates a record that is invaluable in the case of litigation, however it’s completely voluntary and your work technically is legally protected simply by putting your name on your work, along with a copyright symbol and the year (e.g., © 2011 by David Wilken). By the way, the default key combination for the copyright symbol (©) is the “option” key plus the letter “g.”
Of interest to many musicians, not just composers, is what constitutes “fair use.” Continue reading Copyrighting Your Music