Should I copyright music that I put on the web or online? 6 Answers as of April 27, 2015

I’m a musician and I write my own songs. Should I try to copyright my music before I post it to websites like YouTube or Vimeo?

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Law Office of Kirk Buhler
Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
It is a good practice to copyright material that you want to protect. While you can file the copyright before or after you post the material, anything that you post should identify the author, the year of creation and (c).
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/27/2015
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
Under U.S. law, an original work is protected from the moment it is fixed in a permanent medium. Either the words or the lyrics or both together can be copyrighted this way. In addition, your performance of the music can also be copyrighted. Although it is not required by law, you can register your copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office (Library of Congress) which gives the public further notice that you own this material and impacts the amount of damages owed to you by violators. So you can post your music to on-line sites, knowing that the material is protected already. However, once posted, it is almost impossible to prevent someone from violating your copyright and very difficult and expensive to recover damages. So don't post anything that you think is a real money-maker.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 4/27/2015
Webb IP Law Group
Webb IP Law Group | Jason P Webb
If you are concerned about people stealing it or using it without permission, then yes.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 4/27/2015
Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
Once you create the music and put into a tangible medium - you own the copyright. Registration of your copyright is only required if you want to enforce your rights in Federal Court.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 4/24/2015
Barton Barton & Plotkin
Barton Barton & Plotkin | Maurice Ross
Yes. But you need to understand copyright and music publishing law first. There may be three or more separate copyrights at issue. First there is a copyright for the musical composition consisting of the music and the lyrics. Second there is a copyright for the sound recording that you make of the musical proposition. Third there is a copyright for the performances of the musicians on the sound recording. Fourth there is a separate copyright on the video that contains the musical composition, sound recording and performances. Note that copyright protection arises automatically when ever a work such as a song is created but you cannot enforce your copyright until you register it with the United States copyright office. This is why every working musician must develop a relationship with intellectual property and music licensing counsel. You should be retaining and working with music/IP lawyers as you develop your music career. Most successful musicians have their lawyers telephone number on speed dial and consider their lawyer to be a member of the band. As both a working musician and a lawyer I know from personal experience how important it is for you to have a lawyer to handle matters such as this. Good luck to you.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 4/24/2015
    Michael M. Ahmadshahi
    Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
    The copyright of your music is automatically yours so you don't have to register it. However it is strongly advised that you register the copyright with the Copyright Office if you intend to enforce your copyrights against potential copyright infringers.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/24/2015
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