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The key to understanding how to copyright a music is understanding what copyright protects.

 Copyright for a Song

By registering a copyright, you have complete copyright protection for your music. Copyright protects your song’s music and lyrics the moment you record them, even if it’s simply a poor recording on your mobile phone.

However, in order to get the full benefits of copyright protection, including the ability to sue others who infringe on your copyright, you must register it with the United States Copyright Office.

Learn how to get complete copyright protection for your music.

How to Obtain Copyright for a Song

Copyright is addressed in a number of state legislation and international treaties. Federal law allows song authors the following exclusive rights for a song composed, produced, or performed in the United States:

To make several copies of a copyrighted material. This prevents people from copying your recordings or sheet music.

Creating derivative works This prevents people from using pieces of your music to create new ones.

To make duplicates of. This prevents people from selling copies of your music in a vehicle trunk or on the internet.

To publicly perform the copyrighted work. This prevents others from playing your music.

To publicly perform the protected work through digital audio transmission. Allows people to not play a recording of your music.

Knowing what exclusive rights are available isn’t enough if you want to know how to copyright music. You must also understand how to get those rights—as well as how others might utilise them in their own compositions.

How to Protect Your Work Using Copyright

When it comes to lyrics, just jotting them down in a notebook affords you immediate legal music rights. You may claim any of the exclusive rights above the lyrics you’ve composed as the ink strikes the paper. But what if, some months later, someone in another place creates lyrics that are extremely similar, if not identical? How can you show that you were the first to write them?

The procedure of establishing your primacy as the first author is known as copyright registration. You put everyone on notice that these are your lyrics for a nominal copyright registration charge. Anyone who writes those identical lyrics later is subject to your exclusive rights as a copyright holder—and you don’t even have to show the later author viewed your work.

The Library of Congress maintains a complete list of all registered copyright paintings, poems, and songs. Although few composers research song copyright registration to see whether a new song infringes on an old one, they should. Song copyright registration gives the song constructive notice. The music, the lyrics, the percussion track on the recording, and the chord progression in the bridge are all distinct and expressive parts over which the creator has complete control.

That is why developing an automatic music copyright checker is so challenging. It would need a complicated algorithm that could listen to music and combine all of the composer’s, lyricist’s, and performer’s decisions.

However, you may choose what is and is not protected in your work as well as the work of others. Take a time before picking up your guitar to strum a new song to identify what portions of the song are your property and how to figure out if any of it is someone else’s.