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Re: copyrightting individual songs

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Posted by Stephen L. ANderson on August 16, 2001 at 17:18:32:

In Reply to: copyrightting individual songs posted by Regina Kendle on August 15, 2001 at 06:27:15:

: Do I need to get each individual song on a tape copywritten or are they already copywritten when I get the tape copywritten?


We at copyrightpros.com often receive questions like yours about the extent and degree of protection of multiple works under a single Copyright application.

Sometimes these inquiries are made by textile manufacturers seeking in a single application,
to register a catalog of works (by a single artist or making up a particular line,
style or theme, e.g., "the fall collection").

Sometimes, the creative Artist herself seeks to register and protect under one Copyright
application, an entire book of poems, journal entries or drawings (whether cartoons,
caricatures, landscapes, or patterns, etc.).

Other times, we hear from website designers or book publishers who are seeking to
register in a single application, all photographs, graphics and
text on a particular website or publication.

While we do indeed encourage our Artist and Designer clients to take such an important
step toward obtaining strong copyright protection for their work, AS A GENERAL RULE
For this reason, we advise our clients to seek independent registrations of each
separate work wherever possible.

Cartoons: We have advised clients that even within a single work, there may exist
more than one independently copyrightable element. (e.g., each of the characters
in a particular cartoon feature - Bart, Homer Lisa . . . or Mickey, Donald and Goofy).

If a cartoonist was to bring legal action against an alleged copyright infringer who had not reproduced the original drawings but rather had "borrowed" a single element
(e.g., a lesser known chararacter, e.g., Flanders, Principal Skinner . . . or "Sneezy")
and had incorporated the character into another original setting and plot (a derivative
work) the cartoonist would have a significantly better chance of obtaining an injunction and recovery of damages if the character were independently registered (e.g., in a "style guide" - showing the character in different poses) rather than being featured only in two frames in a less than prominent portion of
the work.

With Internet copying being as easy as it is, it stands to reason that the difference
between "irreparable harm" and "deminimus" (mere nuisance) copying might in some
cases depend on whether an infringer took all of the copyrighted material from a
website, rather than only one small portion of it.

In the era of song sampling (where an artist only takes a few notes or words from
a popular song), there have been cases where Courts have ruled that the copying,
though potentially actionable, (for compulsory license purposes) does not rise to
the level of a wholesale infringement to warrant an injunction, statutory damages
for wilfulness and attorneys fees.

In any case, a savvy website designer, who had independently registered every single
photo (or underlying artistic material) from an online catalog, would have much better
chances against an internet pirate than would the site designer who had sought protection
for his entire website in only
a single application.

Therefore, a copyrighted photo is better than a copyrighted catalog of photos. A copyrighted drawing stronger than a book of drawings. Similarly, plagiarism of only one small portion of text is much less actionable than wholesale copying of an entire novel.

With that in mind, you can seek copyright protection for your entire work as a "compilation", or better still, for any portion which is likely to be infringed.

In either event, you should identify each song, the way they do inside album jackets, e.g,
Song title, date and place of recording, date of first publication, lyrical and musical composers, names of performers etc.

We encourage our author and artist clients to seek strong and independent protection
for each of their works and for any components included within such works.

For this reason, we offer a substantial discount for volume or bulk filings.

Depending on the strength of one of your poems and whether it reflects a strong element
of style or a new way of looking at the world, infringement can be made out by the
mere theft of even a few words. . . Think of Shel Siverstein, Jim Morrison, or Robert Frost, only
a few words and their work is recognizable. . .

At very least you should start by registering your songs as a compilation, (greatest Hits CD) and/or any that are sold or published by themselves, (e.g., on singles, EPs, sheet music, etc.)

We would love to help! For complete details, check out our site: www.copyrightpros.com,
or call us at 949-754-3048.

Stephen L. Anderson

Anderson & Shippey
Offices in Irvine and San Francisco, California. . .websites everywhere.


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