Registering with the Copyright Office
How to Register a Music Copyright
Copyrights are huge in the music industry. Everywhere you turn when dealing with music you will come across different copyright laws and requirements. That said, it is extremely important for you to know and understand what is involved in copyrights. You will also need to know how to obtain one to protect the music that you and your band create. This is relatively simply and most of the forms can be found at the US Copyright Office website, www.copyright.gov.
Don't just go to their website and start filling out the first forms that you come across however. There are many different forms for many different needs. For this you will want to visit the frequently asked questions section of the website and look over the questions and explanations of the different forms and types of copyrights out there. For example, you will need a different form if you are looking to copyright a song, with lyrics and music, that you or your band wrote than if you were looking to release a CD. It can be complicated, but the website is pretty clear in describing the type of copyright that you will need and the corresponding forms that will come with it.
If releasing a CD, tape or some other recording of your music is what you are looking to do, and your band has written some of its own songs, you will actually need to have two different copyrights. In fact, there are two copyrights to almost every song out there today. One of the copyrights is simply for the song, the lyrics and the music. This is held by the songwriter (unless he/she sold it to someone else). The other is the actual recording of that song. Each recording of a song has to have a new copyright attached to it. This protects that particular version and sound.
If you are looking at the copyright website you will actually be able to find forms that will allow you to obtain both of these copyrights, with one form. This could save you a lot of time, but also money as most of the forms cost money to file.
Because you are going to have to pay per copyright that your request, obtaining a copyright for each song that you have on your album can be quite costly. It also means that you will be filling out a lot of paperwork and different forms. That said, you can actually just fill out one form to protect the entire album. This will drastically cut down on the forms that you'll have to fill out, and also on the fees that you'll have to pay. It won't be a lose of coverage either. If you copyright the album, each song on that album is covered just as if you did each song on its own.
One thing that many bands overlook is their bands symbol or artwork. Often times a band will come up with some kind of a symbol for themselves and it will be on shirts and CD covers. This artwork, as long as it is completely original can also be copyrighted. This might be a good idea if you are intending to use that as your bands logo. You should be able to easily find this form on the copyright website also.
Reading and understanding the copyright laws and requirements will simply make things easier for you and your band down the road. You won't have to worry about someone taking your work, and you shouldn't have to worry about accidentally being in violation of someone else's copyrights. Each step you take to educate yourself about the laws and ways of the music industry, the better chance your band has at success.