Can I copyright a song if I wasn't the only contributor? 4 Answers as of November 06, 2012

Albeit minimal, I had some help from a friend when writing a song that I want to copyright. Can I copyright the song myself or does my friend have to be involved? If I do it myself, can he sue me later if we ever part ways?

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Roe Law Firm
Roe Law Firm | Theodore M. Roe
You can copyright a song you had involvement in producing. This is what my firm does. However, if you do not indicate that your friend also has an interest in the copyright in the registration, and you use it, sell it, or license it without his permission, your friend could sue you for infringement of his portion of the copyright.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 11/6/2012
Law Offices of Neil Sussman
Law Offices of Neil Sussman | Neil Sussman
You and your friend at least have to agree if both of you are going to be listed as authors on the copyright form or not. Until you determine that, no one can fill out the form. Once you both agree, then either one of you can fill out the form in accordance with your agreement. If you fill out the form without first getting your friend's agreement on whether he will be listed as an author, then he can sue you later.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 11/2/2012
Lawyer for Indie Media
Lawyer for Indie Media | Sue Basko
You are asking for copyright advice pertaining to your specific situation. You should contact a lawyer and discuss your situation. I do this kind of advising and other lawyers also do. Also, keep in mind that while you perceive your friend's contribution to be minimal, your friend may not perceive it that way.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 11/2/2012
Abts Law, LLC
Abts Law, LLC | Matthew Abts
Dear Questioner, You should consult to make sure that you are a joint owner this can depend on the nature and extent of your contribution to the work. But generally, if you are a joint owner, joint owners have equal right to register and commercially exploit a work. (You already have a copyright just upon creation when I have a client with a joint ownership situation, I always urge her/him to register as soon as possible). Whether your friend might eventually have any cause of action against you depends on the exact nature of your relationship you need to have a full consult and present all the facts to figure out where your potential liability could be. You can use this information to help guide your actions. But if you are a joint owner, you can and should register.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 11/2/2012
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