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Copyright Hype: Indie Pool

December 1, 2008

Recently there has been some net chatter about Copyrighting your songs. My friends have asked me, “What’s the deal?” So here’s my take:

Copyrighting is a different beast then it used to be. The internet has changed the way we look at copyright and the idea of ownership. Arguably when you digitize something (music, books, tv) putting it into the ocean that is the internet, that new digital something, becomes a shared part of the whole internet collective.

Does that make sense?

I am not saying that I agree with that opinion, but it does hold some weight. The internet is a shared system of information. When you add to the collective the collective becomes richer because of your contribution. If your contribution is of significant value (a great song, book, etc) you get richer too.

So if you digitize a song and it becomes popular you do run the risk of someone stealing it.

BUT in today’s world there are a shat load of bands on Myspace (literally millions) and your biggest problem is not going to be someone stealing your melody lines. Your biggest problem is getting someone to even LISTEN to your melody lines. If you do write Viva la Vida and Coldplay comes and rips it off consider yourself lucky. Most bands won’t even reach that level of fame.

That does not mean that you should forever go without copyrighting your songs.

If you have the money, and you have quality material, then go for it.

But for up and coming bands with little money and a modest fan base the idea that you should copyright your songs because they are so good, and Bon Jovi totally needs a new sound, and he’s coming to steal your genius lyrical hook is pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty unlikely.

Save you money kids. Demo your songs, practice your craft, and soon enough you’ll be dealing with the headache that can be copyrighting your songs.

Take Control of Your Music,


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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2008 6:54 am

    Back when I was in a ska band my mom would nag me about copywriting my songs. That statement sounds like some sort of set up for a funny joke, or even a joke on its own, but it’s actually true.

  2. December 8, 2008 4:04 pm

    What are you even talking about? Are you in USA? Study how copyright works again. Your song is automatically copyrighted from the moment you record it or write it down. U.S. copyright applies to all original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium. You don’t need to have money, or spend money, in order to get copyright. It is free. You would need money if you wanted to prosecute a copyright case.

  3. December 8, 2008 4:24 pm

    Yes, I agree that the moment you create a song it’s copyrighted, but we’re talking about actually going to court and attempting to prove it.

    To get a song officially copyrighted by the US copyright office you need money.

    And just so it’s clear to, our position is that for independant artists PAYING to OFFICIALLY copyright all your songs can be a waste of money.

  4. December 10, 2008 3:17 pm

    actually Dgold is right. the moment you create a new work it is by law copywritten…in other words you are the author and that is a universal right. the problem obviously is how to prove that….in a court of law, you cannot prove copyright…you can only prove ownership…so the tried and true method of registering by mail a package containing your work with the date stamped on an unopened sealed envelope gives you a certified date that you owned that piece of property…of course, you could be so lucky as to have coldplay rip off your masterpiece…if that happened and it actually made some money, lawyers would be lining up to take your case…

  5. January 13, 2009 4:19 pm

    Hey all,

    It’s Gregg here from Indie Pool and Copyright Depository. Hope you don’t mind me throwing in my 2 cents. I think this discussion is good to have and I think the decorum everyone has shown here is commendable.

    At Indie Pool, we deal with thousands of recording artists and we had just had enough of artists asking “how to copyright a song” and not having a simple answer. In fact, as you guys know, you can’t actually copyright a song, copyright is owned the moment you create a new song and affix it. That last part means that just because you hum something, you can’t claim copyright ownership. A work needs to be either recorded or transcribed to mark the moment. So the real question is “how do I evidence my copyright?”. We solved that by creating a full proof third-party time stamping service with the United States Postal Service.

    The question here seems to be, “do i need to evidence my copyright?”. Voyno’s view is that you should forget about it and save your money.

    Well, this is the age old question about insurance. Yes, in most cases, you won’t need house, health or car insurance, so in that sense it can be a real waste of money. Anyone here can attest to that frustration of paying insurance and wondering if you are getting full value, because it is so rarely needed. I would say that the vast majority of artists will never need to pull out their Electronic Postmark evidence in order to fight a claim.

    However, do not believe that copyright infringement does not happen and that good ideas are not “stolen” every day. And I’m not talking about file sharing here, I’m talking about someone claiming another’s work as their own. Just last week I had to deal with an artist in New Jersey that was claiming copyright infringement by one of our clients. It happens all the time.

    Listen, if you write stuff that only you can possibly like, you don’t have anything worry about, no one steals crappy stuff. But if you write good hooks and good parts, then you have an asset. If you have not properly protected that asset, then your property is vulnerable. I have worked with many artists that have won and lost copyright cases. Having proof positive is a good thing.

    I am not an insurance salesman, and insurance has always pissed me off, so I’m not going to scare people into the bogeyman. Just know, that evidencing copyright is not “hype” and that the opinions expressed here are not legal opinions. People steal good ideas, that’s not breaking news is it?

    Someone here said that if Coldplay stole your music, that would be good, because you’d make lots of money. Well, yes, but only if you can prove and win your case. If all you have is your word or the dates on your computer files or an envelope that is useless in court, you will lose, and be stuck paying the other side’s legal fees. It’s not like MySpace will show up in court, like us, and prove the file date to an absolute certainty.

    About money, remember it’s pretty cheap. If you write 15 songs per year, that’s less than $100 for proper evidencing, with no recurring fees. I work with a lot of broke bands, and every one of them that is recording 15 songs per year can afford $100. That would cover about 15 minutes with a copyright attorney.

    Another thing I wanted to mention was that Copyright Depository is not just for time stamping. Well over half the people using it are not buying Electronic Postmarks, but using the free organizing and note taking tools to keep their Intellectual Property organized. You can use the system for free, forever. Check it out.

    Anyhow, that’s my take, and that’s why we built the system. Not everyone will use it and that’s totally cool. Just be cautious of people suggesting you have nothing to worry about, everything will be OK, no one wants what you have, your Intellectual Property is essentially valueless and therefore does not need protecting. That is not legal advice, just an opinion. I have been contacted by many attorneys since we launched this and they are emphatically encouraging their clients to use this service, so that should tell you something.



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