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Award Winning Songwriter/Composer Richard Melvin Brown aka RICK

Copyright Protection 

or as I like to call it > Safe Songwriting

The following copyright information was obtained from the book "Songwriter's Market" published by Writer's Digest Books, 1507 Dana Ave., Cincinnati OH 45207. This is a wonderful book for Songwriters and I recommend it highly.



Copyright protection is extended to your songs (or lyrics) the instant they are put down in fixed form (for example, written down on paper and/or recorded on Tape, CD or Digital Medium). This protection lasts for your lifetime (or the lifetime of the last surviving author, if you co-wrote the song) plus 70 years. When you prepare demos, (OR lyric sheets, in the case of lyrics only) place "notification of copyright" on all copies of your song or lyrics- the lyrics sheets, music lead sheets and C.D. and/or other kinds of Digital Format. 

The copyright notice is a small c with a circle around it, © followed by the year 2018, and your name, example > © 2018 YOUR NAME.  


When Is A Song Protected?

The Copyright Law of the United States provides a variety of legal rights and protection to the creator of an original work of authorship. For your songs, then, it is important to understand the meaning of originality and what constitutes a work of authorship.

Originality for a song simply requires that you create original music and lyrics. If you create original lyrics alone or original music alone, these can be separately protected under the copyright law. To be original, your music and lyrics must not have been substantially copied from any other song that is protected by copyright and must also contain some degree of novelty or distinctiveness. As to what is substantial copying, juries and judges determine that on a case-by-case basis. There are no maximum or minimum numbers of notes, words, or musical bars that may or may not be copied. If you think you may be copying someone else's work, don't do it!

As long as you have not substantially copied lyrics or music from a protected song, it is not really difficult to meet the originality criteria for copyright. Be aware, however, that if you create a distinctive melody line with lyrics that include nothing more than a repetition of the same two words throughout the song (for example, "Let's Dance! Let's Dance!"), those lyrics will not be protected by the copyright law unless someone uses them with the same melodic notes and rhythm contained in your song.

For your creation to be considered a work of authorship, there must be an expression of your original musical or lyrical creation that has been fixed in tangible form. This simply means that a mere idea for a song (such as one about two next-door neighbors who fall in love) will not be protected until actually expressed with specific lyrics and music embodied in some medium of recorded expression (for example, written down on paper and/or recorded on Tape, CD or Digital Medium). Even when expressed in tangible form, however, titles, phases, and other short expressions are not protected by copyright, so don't attempt to register and protect two lines of lyrics or a few bars of music as a separate work of authorship.

Song Copyright Protection

Remember that your song is protected under the copyright laws immediately upon its fixation in tangible form (for example, written down on paper and/or recorded on Tape, CD or Digital Medium). Formal registration in Washington D.C. only provides additional evidence of your claim and makes available to you certain other legal procedural advantages if you sue someone for copying (infringing) your work.

The term (duration) of copyright protection is for the life of the author plus seventy years (in the case of songs created by two or more songwriters, this is marked from the death of the last surviving writer).


When you create a lyric (or song) and put it down in some fixed or tangible form (as in written words on a piece of paper, on Tape, CD, or on a computer file) it is a property that you own, and is automatically protected by copyright.

Below is my own humble opinion on so-called Copyright Infringement.

People just don't go around stealing other peoples songs and lyrics unless it was recorded by Michael Jackson (or some other hugely successful recording artist) and it turns into a big hit. Then every Tom, Dick, Harry and Sally seem to come out of the woodwork insisting that they wrote Michael's hit way back in 1974.   99.9% of these people lose their cases because they have nothing to back up their claims.  

For a GREAT article on Copyright > 10 Big Myths about copyright explained Click Here



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