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Author Topic: Copyright Law re Music  (Read 783 times)


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Copyright Law re Music
« on: 03-18-17 at 06:07 am »

Amateur musician here. Wanting to register copyright on 50-60 pieces of music created over the past 3 years, posted (published?) on, an DIY online music store. Have had very little traffic other than family, maybe 1-2 plays per piece over the average 1.5 year post, and no sales other than a few family.
Question: On the registration process, I want to do a bulk $55 registration, but don't think I can as all in bulk are (I think) supposed to be either all unpublished to date, or all published together, or to be published together. Is this correct? Can I list all as unpublished and bulk register them all, as, at least, I will have finally given them some protection? Ramifications? THANKS. Pineapple Pete. (music not that bad).
PS: ALSO Posted and de-posted music files from the site erratically. Have no coherent record of when and if.
« Last Edit: 03-18-17 at 06:11 am by PineapplePete »


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Re: Copyright Law re Music
« Reply #1 on: 03-19-17 at 11:13 am »

A great resource for musicians. 

Defining what is and what is not "published" has many grey areas, especially with the advent of interwebs and websites.

Publishing is typically described as "making content available to the public". There are examples of some online distribution techniques that were not considered "published" while others were. In your example (though I did not actually goto the site), I can only imagine that you "published" your work. The site you used, I imagine, is designed to distribute content to the public (which you probably agreed to in some contract form). How popular your work is on the site and who did or did not download the content is not the criteria used to determine if a work is published.

Up and down sides of registering published vs unpublished work I think are moot if your work was not infringed on. The advantage of registering is to be able to collect statutory damages in court. If work has been infringed prior to registration, only actual damages can be collected, if infringement occurred post registration, statutory can be collected which can be significant. Though I am ignorant of registering works, Im pretty sure you can publish the collection as "published"
Disclaimer: Not a lawyer


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Re: Copyright Law re Music
« Reply #2 on: 03-21-17 at 04:32 pm »

If you’ve posted your music on web or social media sites where you have granted others permission to download/share (distribute)/mix your music, then your music has likely been published.  If you’re simply just allowing them to “listen” to your music, it may be un-published, as there’s no authorized distribution or sharing taking place.

You can register groups of un-published works for $55 using the eCO’s Standard Application.  If all your works have been published simultaneously (on the same day) AND in the SAME unit of publication (like a CD), you can also use the $55 eCO’s Standard Application.  Along with the main registration title, also provide a separate title (contents titles) for each work you’re registering (if you’re registering ten music compositions, provide ten titles; I would also upload one Word document that includes the lyrics and musical composition to all ten works).  You can NOT mix published and un-published works in the same registrations—they must be separated! 

Importantly, you cannot lie about the publication status of your works.  In the eCO application, you’ll have to certify that the information you’ve provided is correct to the best of your knowledge.  If you misrepresent any material parts in your application, you’re subject to a $2,500 fine!  This fine is the criminal offense section per the copyright statute.

From eCO application, you’ll have to check a box that certifies the following:  “I certify that I am the author, copyright claimant, or owner of exclusive rights, or the authorized agent of the, copyright claimant, or owner of exclusive rights of this work and that the information given in this application is correct to the best of my knowledge.”

“Any person who knowingly makes a false representation of a material fact in the application for copyright registration provided by section 409, or in any written statement filed with the application, shall be fined not more than $2500.”  See 17 USC 506(e).

Smokin wrote, “If work has been infringed prior to registration, only actual damages can be collected, if infringement occurred post registration, statutory can be collected which can be significant.”

A work is also eligible for statutory damages and potential recoupment of attorney fees & costs if its register is made WITHIN three-months of its first-publication.  See 17 USC § 412.


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