It was been said that your songs are like your children. You give them life. You help guide them along. You watch them grow. And, when they reach maturity, you try to find them a good home.

 
Now, a parent might warn their child about the less than scrupulous people out there and the precautions they should take, but the responsibility of protecting your songs falls squarely on your shoulders.
 
The good news is once you write a song, the song is copyrighted. A copyright means that the rights of the song belongs to a person or company (the copyright holder), and it’s theirs to exploit however they desire or see fit.

 
The bad news is unless you register your copyright with the U.S. Library of Congress, the really only legitimate way to register your song, your legal course of action against those that trespass on your copyright are greatly diminished. So, even if you register the song with ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC, mail a copy of the song to yourself, or use some other means of trying to cement the song is yours and you wrote it, it has no more legitimacy than your initial copyright claim you got when you wrote it.

 
Sure, it does cost to register your songs with Copyright Office (but there’s ways to save yourself serious cash), but if you’re a professional (or want to be) it’s best to operate with business savvy. And registering your songs is not only more professional, it’s cheap insurance.

 
Currently, it costs $50 to use the Copyright Office’s new barcode copyright form CO. This saves you $15 bucks over using the still-in-action but soon-to-be-defunct form PA and SR (Performing Arts and Sound Recording, respectively) that have a registration fee of $65.
 
Form CO is the form that replaces forms PA, SR and a plethora of other forms for other industries (film making, literary works, etc.), which you fill out in Adobe Acrobat. As you complete sections of the form, the barcode for that section changes to match the information you entered. After you completed the form, you simply print it out, sign it, and mail it to the Copyright Office with a check for the processing fee and a copy of your composition.

 
All you need to send for your copy of the song(s) is a cassette or CD, there’s no need for typed lyrics or transcribed music. How cool is that?

 
More good news here: You can copyright more than one song at a time if all the writers (and copyright claimants) are the same on all the songs. After entering the first title, there’s a button that let’s you add another title, and so on. There is a limit of fifty titles, however.

 
So, if you have ten compositions on the one form, it breaks down to $5 a piece…much more palatable for the starving musician.

 
Much more information and forms are available on the Copyright Office website: www.copyright.gov.
 
Jake Kelly is a man on the constant search for enlightenment, if anyone finds it let him know so he can get some. For more of this hombre’s ramblings and the rest of L2P check out L2Pbandspace and L2Pnet.com.

Originally posted 2010-08-03 19:32:19.