What is song copyright? It is a legal device that gives the creator of a song the sole right to publish that song. Copyright owners have the right to control the reproduction of their work, including the right to receive payment for that reproduction. An author may grant or sell those rights to others, including publishers or recording companies. Violation of a copyright is called infringement.
Music copyright means everything to the songwriter, and by extension, the publisher. Imagine writing a song and somebody stole it and made millions from it. Or imagine what it would be like if anybody was free to use songs as soon as they were written, while the copyright owner, the one who actually created the musical work, got nothing.
The whole songwriting craft would cease to exist. Nobody would go through the hassle of writing songs. This is why music copyright was introduced. To protect the creator of a musical work.
It’s so simple to copyright something. If you write a few lines to a song right now, it will automatically become copyright material, as long as it is original. This means that you don’t even have to register your song with the Copyright Office to get a song copyright.
However, it is good to register your song so that you can prove that you are really the copyright owner and so that you can have a better case in the event that your copyright is infringed upon.
When you register with the US Copyright Office, they normally take six months to get back to you, but this doesn’t mean that it takes six months to get protected.
How does a publisher come into the picture? After all he didn’t write the song…
It’s quite simple. The songwriter could have decided to be his own publisher and own all the rights to the song. However, realizing all the benefits that can be derived from working with a publisher, a songwriter may choose to have his song published and share the rights.
Learn more about this from the book, Moser on Music Copyright. Learn about copyright in general and how it applies to music.
Find out what rights a copyright owner can exercise or give others the authority to exercise.