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Copyrighting December 16, 2010

Posted by Beth in Uncategorized.
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I spent most of Friday researching copyrighting so I can post Eva’s music without concern that someone will take credit for her creations.(You can see her recent performances on Eva’s Recital/Fund Raiser for G.R.A.C.E.) The information on copyrighting is remarkably easy to obtain. Additionally, the law seems to be straight forward and quite “creator friendly.” Here’s my best understanding of the process.

In order to copyright a creative work, it has to exist in a “fixed tangible form,” though not necessarily directly perceptible (production through a machine or device is acceptable.)

As soon as the work exists in such a fixed form, it is automatically considered copyrighted and the author is the recognized owner of the property rights to the work. Nothing else need be done. But, if you ever need to prove that you are the author/owner of a piece of work, it is prudent to take a few other simple steps.

The first is to simply mark the work as copyrighted, either by using the “C in a circle”  ©  (or for phonorecords, a “P in a circle” ℗ )** along with the year the work was produced and the name of the copyright holder. This is not required, but prevents claims of “innocent infringement” by others.

Minors can claim copyright, so Eva is the official owner of her work. (I think that is pretty cool.) So we will mark all CD and DVD copies of her music with a ℗ .

In addition to marking the work, you can increase the ease of proving ownership in court by registering the work. One way to do this is through My Free Copyright.  It quick, easy and free, can assist a court case seeking rights of ownership or compensation for lost profits , but does not provide protection in order to sue for statutory damages.  In order to be able obtain statutory damages, you have to officially register your copyright claim with the US Copyright Office–and that costs money, and must be done either within 3 months of publication*, or prior to the infringement.

To register a work online, it’s still pretty simple. Each “work” costs $35 to register, but a “work” can be an album with many songs, or a compilation of multiple pieces. The government website is fairly straightforward, but I was glad to have this explanation of how to get through it from the Music Biz Academy.com–including the advice to actually take the government’s site’s tutorial.

The other important piece of information I gleaned from my research is that if you “publish” a work, (which best as I can interpret means if you make multiple copies with the intent for sale*) then you are required to register your copyright, or be subject to fines and penalties.

I ended up registering one of my You Tube video clips of Eva with My Free Copyright. It was very easy and I now have a unique identifier which proves my copyright claim. In the future, if Eva wants to register a single song, this seems to be the way to go, simply because of the cost of registering with the US Copyright Office.

She currently has 10 original songs which I did register using eCO. It took some back and forth to get the electronic forms filled out correctly, but the process should go much more quickly when I do it again. I never was able to upload her work and submit it electronically (not sure why it didn’t work) but I have 90 days in which to submit a hard copy by mail.

Our next step will be for Eva to join the American Society of Composers, Author’s and Publishers (ASCAP) in order to start learning how to promote her work, and improve her productions. It will also give her relatively easy access to other artist’s work if she wants to include them in a CD.

In this day and age of voluminous regulations, rules, laws etc., it was refreshing to see how easy it is to claim property rights over one’s creative productions. Eva’s CD is in the mail on its way to the Library of Congress to be officially “deposited” — and Eva’s career as a singer/song writer is officially launched!!

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*Publication is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication. (from Glossary of Terms, CENDI Copyright Working Group.)

**HTML code for ℗ can be found here.

HTML code for ©  can be found here.

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