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Copyright A Collection of Songs? Advice Appreciated

#1 User is offline   dtrain1234 Icon

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 08:36 PM

Hi,

I'm just curious if I should copyright each song as I get them done or if I should wait until I have 10-15 songs and then copyright all of them as a collection? Some of the songs I have done myself but there are others I have done with co-writers. What if I copyright a song and re-write it. Should I re-copyright that song too? I'm also learning that I should have a written agreement on paper no matter if it's a work for hire or a co-write. Which forms should I use to send to the Library of Congress? Should I do them online instead? I think it's $35.00 per song online but $65.00 per song or collection. As you can tell I'm a little confused right now. I will also get a three ring binder and put all of the paper with with a copy of the demo for each song in it. Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
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#2 User is offline   zmulls Icon

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 09:56 PM

There are a lot of things to consider. First and foremost, are you anywhere near being in a position to have songs that are worth copyrighting? Or are you just starting out. Yes, you should at some point copyright your work to protect it, but don't get ahead of yourself.

There are two basic copyrights you will be concerned with: The PA (Performing Arts) and the SR (Sound Recording). The PA protects the song, music and lyrics. The SR protects the *recording* of the song. If you are recording your work to sell (not just a demo), you will want to do the SR recording. I have learned that you are allowed to use the SR recording to protect the song as well, but you have to state in your comments that you are using the SR recording to also protect the writing, it's not automatic.

Yes, it's $35 per copyright, so it makes all the sense in the world to do it as a collection. I did 70 on my first one - I did a *lot* of lyric writing first. (An SR copyright would be for a CD, or an individual track). But the copyright holder has to be the same for all the work. So if you're doing a stack of lyrics, all by you, you can do that as a collection. If you're doing ten songs, and two are co-writes by two different people, you can do eight of them in one copyright (for you), but the other two would have to be done separately, one at a time.

It's up to you to negotiate any agreements. Yes, you should, but it's very hard to whip out a piece of paper when you are just getting to know someone. If you are co-writing, you should at least have a quick biz talk that you will split 50/50 and will sign an agreement when you have songs you think are worth working on. If you are writing songs to then produce demos you should talk about who's going to pay for them.

But do the writing first.

You can do copyright registration online. You will upload a recording of the song (if it's a music/lyrics). You do not have to include a lyric sheet and you do not have to include a lead sheet with chords. An MP3 is sufficient (as long as the lyrics on the MP3 are the ones you want copyrighted).

Maybe if you give a little information about yourself -- how old are you, how much have you written, are you the performer, who are your co-writers, are they performers, do you have avenues to get these songs performed ...etc........we can give you a little more information.
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#3 User is online   Neal K Icon

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 11:31 AM

You already have copyright. It's automatic from the moment a work of art is set into a fixed form. What you are talking about is officialy registering your copyright, which is probably not necessary unless your songs are being recorded and released for sale or broadcast.

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 12:45 PM

I usually copyright about 10-15 together — Vol. 1, 2, .... etc.

T

#5 User is offline   FunkDaddy Icon

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 03:06 PM

View PostNeal K, on 19 April 2011 - 12:31 PM, said:

You already have copyright. It's automatic from the moment a work of art is set into a fixed form. What you are talking about is officialy registering your copyright, which is probably not necessary unless your songs are being recorded and released for sale or broadcast.

Neal


This is always my thought too. I put the © Sleepy McGee Music on my song posts because it looks cool lol If you ever get to the point of plagiarism being a threat, I think you'll (hopefully) have already had a good consultation or twenty with an entertainment lawyer.

One thing about the Internet and computer recording in general is it makes it very easy to prove if you had something before the person who stole it.

p.s. Everything is plagiarized in music anyways!
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#6 User is online   Neal K Icon

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 04:31 PM

View PostFunkDaddy, on 19 April 2011 - 01:06 PM, said:

I put the © Sleepy McGee Music on my song posts because it looks cool lol


Mark,

Putting the copyright symbol on your song posts is a good thing to do. It's more than just looking cool. The symbol says who owns the copyright. Someday you'll have to tell us who/what is Sleepy McGee.

Neal
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Posted 20 April 2011 - 07:18 PM

A nickname I picked up through my days of graveyard shifts and insomnia. :lol: Thought it had a nice ring to it, use it for my instrumental and hopefully eventual publishing needs.
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Posted 21 April 2011 - 08:59 PM

It's true that technically your song is copyrighted as soon as you put pen to paper. I however feel that it's worth $35 to know you're definetly covered on that collection of 10-30 songs ( however many you do at a time )

#9 User is online   Neal K Icon

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 12:44 PM

View Postsongrider, on 21 April 2011 - 06:59 PM, said:

I however feel that it's worth $35 to know you're definetly covered on that collection of 10-30 songs


Why? What kind of protection are you actually getting? If someone did steal one of your songs, how would you go about utilizing your copyright to get compensation?

Neal
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#10 User is offline   feegis Icon

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 09:51 PM

Quote

Why? What kind of protection are you actually getting? If someone did steal one of your songs, how would you go about utilizing your copyright to get compensation?

Neal


I'm not sure what you mean by this, Neal. It almost sounds like you're saying there's no point at all to do anything.

If you feel someone has stolen something from you, and you have it registered and they don't, or you have it registered first, well, that's the whole point. Naturally, there could be legal suits and whatnot, but if it was something that actually came to and required legal suits, wouldn't you rather know you had it registered? Ounce of prevention............ For $35, register your work.

Obviously, use your judgment so you're not wasting money. Weigh the trade-offs to paying the $35 based on how you feel about what you are registering. I've included some pretty poor pieces in some collections I've registered. My first collection had only about five I think are decent now looking back, but I don't regret including the lesser caliber things at all. At the time, I thought they were better than they appear now. My stuff may not be great, but it's mine, and if I'm sending in a collection anyway, why not include whatever seems finished at the time. It doesn't matter how many items you have in a collection.

And, apropos of nothing, who cares whether someone else deems it worthy of copyrighting? That's largely subjective to begin with. Heck, look at the range of voting in the lyrics contest. I imagine there's a lot of stuff copyrighted that is drivel, but not to the person who wrote it. Let's say you have a collection of 20 things you are really happy with, and two things that are complete drivel, you can still go ahead and include them in the collection. Again, it doesn't matter how many items you have in a collection. If you re-write something, include the rewrites in another later collection (I just add "alternate version" in the title).

What you register is not evaluated by the US Copyright office. It's not even read. It's only a matter of record if it comes to a copyright infringement, and then it comes down to time of registration.

#11 User is offline   Lazz Icon

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 11:09 PM

I hope Neal will forgive me for presuming to essay an answer on his behalf, but he is not suggesting all is pointless - rather trying to provoke us into thought by posing very pertinent questions.

If someone were to steal one of your songs (leaving aside the cynic’s question about why anyone would bother) how would you seek redress ?

The answer is – by pursuing costly civil litigation – the copyright service won’t be doing it for you.

So what kind of protection are you getting ?

The answer is – well, none really: protection is something you have to police and enforce yourself.
Registration is not a talisman which magically repels all incursions.

All registration does is give you an official record of the date you lodged that particular style of formal ownership. As such, it is just one of perhaps several pieces of evidence a court will consider and evaluate if your case comes to be slapped on their agenda. They’re not dumb: they weigh everything considered relevant – even the so-called “poor man’s copyright”, despite the way many lay-persons will readily dismiss the practice.

So why do it ?

Every jurisdiction/polity joining the WTO is required to abide by the Berne Convention which has been protecting international copyrights since Victor Hugo finally managed to set it up in 1886. Pretty much every major country signed the convention except the US – who dragged their feet for over 100 years before finally clambering on board – so it always strikes me as amusing and a little offensive when US ‘Johnny-come-lately’ registration is run up the flag-pole as the one-and-only essential universal standard.

Pragmatically, nonetheless, we have to also recognise that US courts award significantly higher damages when an infringed work has been registered in the US – for reasons best known to themselves (and, clearly, that also offends me somewhat).

So, if the US looks like being an important market for your work, that weird and inexplicable bias offers the only compelling reason for registering in with the US Copyright Office. Other than that, Vic Hugo has already got you covered.
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and the second best to sing them"

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The relation and balance of the two arts is a problem that has to be resolved anew in every song that is composed.”

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#12 User is offline   feegis Icon

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 12:43 AM

Wow.

Well, I guess Neal's question seemed more pessimistic than positively provocative to me. My mistake, I suppose.

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 04:56 PM

Another hobby-hopefully-paying-gig-someday I take part in is screenwriting and one of the most interesting things I ever heard about copyright/plagiarism type stuff in that arena is when a producer finds a script he likes, it costs him a lot less and is quite a bit easier to simply make an offer to the screenwriter rather than take the idea, find another writer to write it to his liking (usually taking a few drafts at minimum) then hope to avoid the eventual accusation of plagiarism...all while hoping somebody else didn't find the original script in the first place (since it caught his eye anyways right?) and put the movie into production before he even has a shooting draft.

Might not apply to the world of songwriting/music but it's always how I see it. If somebody wants to steal my song ideas, they can have them, if they aren't original enough to write their own music, they probably aren't talented enough to perform my songs better than me either :)
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#14 User is online   Neal K Icon

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 05:07 PM

View Postfeegis, on 01 May 2011 - 10:43 PM, said:

Well, I guess Neal's question seemed more pessimistic than positively provacative to me. My mistake, I suppose.


Lazz pretty well got the gist of my answer.

Let’s say you write a song and somehow a famous artist – Lady GaGa – records it and has a hit with it. What do you do with your copyright? Write a letter to her publisher? Hell, they won’t even read it. You will need a lawyer who specializes in entertainment law to take the case from you, and that lawyer will likely want his or her fees up front – the cost of taking such a case through the court system is so high that no lawyer would risk taking your case for a percentage of the judgement (if there even is one).

So my point remains that unless you are making money with your songs, it is pointless to pay for official copyright registration. Some people still like to do it because in their minds it validates them as being a "real" songwriter, when all you really have to do is write songs.

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#15 User is offline   feegis Icon

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 06:04 PM

I understand those points, and I already understood all the information Lazz presented, but I still do it anyway.

I just think for a fairly nominal amount, if you've written something that you are going to make public, why not have the registration? It's not like we're talking thousands of dollars (doing it the way I do it, anyway). Again, if it ever did come to something like a legal suit, and who knows what just might happen, it's better to have it than not have it. And I would guess an attorney would be more inclined to look at the case if you had the registration than not. Regarding attorney fees, if you can't negotiate something acceptable to you with someone you trust, well, maybe you deserve to have things stolen from you.

You know, I'm a technical recruiter for automotive engineers. When I first got in the business, I made the mistake of disclosing the identity of a client to a candidate prior to receiving their resume. The candidate promptly sent their resume directly to the company, got an interview, accepted an offer, and I was out the commission I would have made. I had no way of proving that the candidate learned of the position from me. That's a mistake I only had to make once. It's not the same thing as copyright, but it speaks to lessons learned and the concept of an ounce of prevention.

Believe me, I have no delusions that I've written anything (yet) that I have to worry about coming to copyright infringement. But, for me, for approximately a hundred bucks a year, I think it's worth registration. Like I said in my previous post, weigh the trade-off. I like to have the registration, even if it's only because that's the value I place on my own creation. Maybe it's all just personal preference, but that's no one else's concern.

#16 User is offline   Lazz Icon

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 08:05 PM

feegis said:

I understand those points, and I already understood all the information Lazz presented, but I still do it anyway.

Perfect.
As long as you have your head screwed on - which you clearly have - it's often hard to tell just where people are at.
A small handful of my songs are shortly to be released in the US, so it's also a step I will be taking for the first time.
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and the second best to sing them"

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“SONG is the joint art of words and music, two arts under emotional pressure coalescing into a third.
The relation and balance of the two arts is a problem that has to be resolved anew in every song that is composed.”

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 07:50 PM

View PostLazz, on 01 May 2011 - 11:09 PM, said:

All registration does is give you an official record of the date you lodged that particular style of formal ownership. As such, it is just one of perhaps several pieces of evidence a court will consider and evaluate if your case comes to be slapped on their agenda.


In the U.S. you cannot sue for infringement if you have not registered your copyright.

Neal K said:

Let’s say you write a song and somehow a famous artist – Lady GaGa – records it and has a hit with it. What do you do with your copyright? Write a letter to her publisher? Hell, they won’t even read it. You will need a lawyer who specializes in entertainment law to take the case from you, and that lawyer will likely want his or her fees up front – the cost of taking such a case through the court system is so high that no lawyer would risk taking your case for a percentage of the judgement (if there even is one).


Actually, in this example you'll get lots of lawyers to take the case for a percentage of the damages if you have registered your copyright before infringement. It's all the bit artists (income wise, not necessarily talent wise) that won't make very much money that won't be worth it to the lawyers to pursue without at least some money up front.

The fact is that no-one of Gaga's size or reputation is stupid enough to infringe. They can get thousands of songs a day submitted without resorting to copyright infringement. It's the band in the town next to yours that is most likely to do the infringing (well meaning or not.) And with those, a simple letter from any lawyer is usually enough to cause a cease and desist. IF you've registered your copyright.

IMO, registering your copyright is eminently important if you are shopping songs or getting songs on releases (even indie releases) or sharing them with anyone in a position to make money off of them. Otherwise, again imo, it simply isn't cost effective. But for 35 bucks for 10-30 (or even more songs) why wouldn't you register the copyright?
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#18 User is offline   Lazz Icon

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 02:45 AM

PigfarmerJr said:

In the U.S. you cannot sue for infringement if you have not registered your copyright.

You are correct that it is not at all uncommon for actions to be pursued on a contingency basis where the prize is rich and they are convinced they have a case, but to suggest U.S. jurisdictions are allowed to be non-responsive to their obligations under international treaties is way off-target and earns no kewpie doll. The only section of Berne for which the US may be given a free pass under the terms of the World Trade Organisation is the one concerning moral rights. You may continue to believe otherwise if you wish - it won't hurt you in any way - but your statement would still be factually in error.

Monty Python, for example, fought ABC in the US on the terms of Berne and won.
(They are not songwriters, not really, strictly speaking, but it's still copyright law, and was a fun case.)

PigfarmerJr said:

why wouldn't you register the copyright?

I think that question was already answered.
There are valid and pragmatically compelling reasons why US registration can be advantageous.
But you don't really need to - because Vic Hugo already has us covered.

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and the second best to sing them"

Hillaire Belloc

“SONG is the joint art of words and music, two arts under emotional pressure coalescing into a third.
The relation and balance of the two arts is a problem that has to be resolved anew in every song that is composed.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica

#19 User is offline   dtrain1234 Icon

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Posted 29 May 2011 - 07:10 PM

A little about myself. I'm 25 years old and have been a member of ASCAP as a writer since 2009. I have about 20 lyrics in song format written that needs music. I'm now starting to do co-writes since I'm not good at recording music. All of my co-writers don't mind the 50/50 and we always sign a collaboration agreement on paper. I'm also keeping a folder of all the songs I did with the co-writer's name and contact info along with the actual MP3 and lyric sheet. I don't mind the thread being hijacked. I still have alot to learn on the business side and the read so far has been very entertaining. After signing up with NSAI and SongU, I am learning so much. If I got this straight, I can't take several songs written by different co-writers and copyright them as a single collection. I can copyright them as a collection with just one specific co-writer as a collection though. Is that correct? Should I copyright them before submitting material to music publishers? I'm trying to build up my song library before I start so I can submit to alot of different opportunities.
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Posted 29 May 2011 - 08:03 PM

dtrain1234 said:

If I got this straight, I can't take several songs written by different co-writers and copyright them as a single collection. I can copyright them as a collection with just one specific co-writer as a collection though. Is that correct?

That is my understanding
And that's what I'm doing for the first time.
Some here are already familiar with the procedures

The bigger the collection the more cost-effective
But the urgency for filing is something only you can measure

On their completion, I log each finished work with my PRO and through our publishing co, keep hand-written manuscript too, so proof of authorship and ownership seems unproblematic. I also already have complete confidence in our protection under the Berne Convention, so never felt the need to panic unduly about the absence of separate US registration for our songs. Now that I am getting around to doing it - for the pragmatic reasons - I still don't feel in any particularly pressing rush to engage with the paperwork. When I do get around to it, I'll be filing an accumulated catalogue as a collection at their bargain price.

Sorry - didn't notice the hi-jack.
Just trying to keep it on the straight and narrow.
Hip Pocket Music

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and the second best to sing them"

Hillaire Belloc

“SONG is the joint art of words and music, two arts under emotional pressure coalescing into a third.
The relation and balance of the two arts is a problem that has to be resolved anew in every song that is composed.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 02:44 PM

I was told that an amatuer copyrighting a song isn't worth it unless you have money to hire a lawyer who can cover a case for you in the case that someone takes songs from you.

I think it is a better idea to go directly to a record company and offer your material as possible material for other songwriters to write. Therefore, you will have a contract and will be protected. That is what I plan on doing. :P

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 07:27 PM

There is no "market" for someone who just writes lyrics.

There is the possibility of partnering with someone who makes it into a song, but that is rare.

There is also a certain amount that can be done by networking.

For most people here, whether you register copyright or not will make no difference. The best thing that could happen is someone "steals" your work and gets a hit - because that would make you more saleable.

For lyricists - mostly, forget it. For musicians and songwriters, the best opportunity lies in building an audience and fanbase, because then there will be interest.
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Posted 02 June 2011 - 07:40 PM

With a few exceptions, there are no lyrics posted here on the Muse worthy of stealing so why waste time formally copyrighting them?

Find a musical collaborator, cut a demo...then copyright.
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#24 User is online   Neal K Icon

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 08:28 PM

Read what Alistair and Jonie just wrote. Read it again and again until you believe it, for they speak the truth!

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 10:32 PM

View Postklo, on 02 June 2011 - 03:44 PM, said:

I think it is a better idea to go directly to a record company and offer your material as possible material for other songwriters to write.


What?! Why would you offer material you've written for other people to take credit for?
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#26 User is online   Neal K Icon

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 01:28 PM

View PostFunkDaddy, on 02 June 2011 - 08:32 PM, said:

View Postklo, on 02 June 2011 - 03:44 PM, said:

I think it is a better idea to go directly to a record company and offer your material as possible material for other songwriters to write.


What?! Why would you offer material you've written for other people to take credit for?


I think she means sending lyrics to record companies so that other songwriters can come up with the melody.

:blink: I guess it doesn't matter how many times you say it, some people just don't get it. There is NO market for lyrics without music. Record companies do not accept lyrics. Heck, they don't even accept fully demoed songs. The business just doesn't work that way.

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 03:45 PM

View PostNeal K, on 04 June 2011 - 02:28 PM, said:

View PostFunkDaddy, on 02 June 2011 - 08:32 PM, said:

View Postklo, on 02 June 2011 - 03:44 PM, said:

I think it is a better idea to go directly to a record company and offer your material as possible material for other songwriters to write.


What?! Why would you offer material you've written for other people to take credit for?


I think she means sending lyrics to record companies so that other songwriters can come up with the melody.

:blink: I guess it doesn't matter how many times you say it, some people just don't get it. There is NO market for lyrics without music. Record companies do not accept lyrics. Heck, they don't even accept fully demoed songs. The business just doesn't work that way.

Neal


Oh, that does make more sense, I think I was in the sun too long that day (waiting for my mechanic; reading in the Civic gardens, reading at the baseball diamond, reading on the coffee shop patio...luckily he's by one of the better libraries in Toronto! Funny sidenote, I hadn't been in a library for so long that my library card was not one, but TWO generations outdated)

And yeah, new lyricists always seem to be convinced they can pitch melody-less "songs", no lyric is that good. It might make it into a book of poetry of some sort, but a song it ain't. In this age of social media and "connectivity" with fans, you have to be prepared to sell a complete package if you're looking for major label type interest. Even small indie labels are much more likely to show interest in artists with well-established fanbases. It's not just a sign of the changing record industry but simply a sign of the economy, even big businesses don't have the money to gamble as much as they might have in the past.
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Posted 05 June 2011 - 12:27 AM

Quote

The best thing that could happen is someone "steals" your work and gets a hit - because that would make you more saleable.


Yeah....that's always been my dream. Have some huge star steal one of my lyrics, turn it into a colossal hit, and do all the work for me. :D

For the sake of argument, if it did happen, as much of a longshot as it is, it would be to my benefit to have the registration. To the argument a lawyer won’t touch a case, if someone's making millions on a song, a lawyer will be interested in looking at the facts. Without registration, they won’t.

Imagine the guy who wrote "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" (I understand he still makes $100,000 a year in royalties). That's a funny lyric; a funny premise. What makes that song? The music? No, it's the story. The music helps, but if someone asked me what I would rather have come up with for that song, the music or the lyric, I'm taking the lyric - and I would want it registered. It's a fairly simple lyric; maybe just a flash of an idea, and that can happen anytime to anyone who writes. And I believe anyone who doesn't believe that lyric alone could spark an idea for a song is not being honest.

Let's say all he wrote was the lyric, and he submitted it for a national lyric contest. It might be rare that someone would steal something, even something brilliant, but is it not plausible? Of course, it is, and I will always believe in the "Ounce of prevention, pound of cure" axiom.

Who knows what hits? Who knows when something comes along at the right time and catches fire? Who knows when all the time and effort you put into writing, all the dues you pay in writing bad lyrics, finally pay off and someone says they want to collaborate and it catches fire? Why not have the protection?

Yes, a lot of times the music is what makes it happen. I’ve seen some great lyrics on this board, but a hit is not necessarily a great, deep, cleverly worded, profound, thing. It’s just something that comes around with the right thing at the right time – and that can happen anytime, starting in written form. Can you recognize it? Not always (see quote below that Ron posted). So, I say, get the registration.

I like to have faith in people, but I'm going to cover my interests for the ridiculously low chance that something I write hits. Maybe writing something that hits is one in a million (excuse me, billion), but since I can register all billion of them for the same $35 (if I do it all at once as one collection), I, for reasons all my own, am going to say, why not? Probably nothing is ever going to happen, but I prefer to look at the glass as half full, and I want to be covered. We write for a reason, and we shouldn't let anyone who presumes to deem anything we write as unworthy dissuade us from protecting our creation. We’re not talking thousands of dollars.

I wrote a children's story. Whether it's good is subjective. But should I not submit it to publishers because chances are slim? Because the odds are against me? Would it be prudent to submit it to publishers without registering it first? This is the reason copyright and registration exist to begin with, and a second after the fact is already too late.

If you write for a purpose, then protect what you create. Maybe it's just a source of pride. It doesn’t make what you wrote better or more important, but you can prove your legal claim to it in the crazy chance it catches fire. It’s your creation. So what if someone doesn't think it's worthy. You'll come across a lot of people who tell you that. Harry Potter was passed on. The Beatles were told they wouldn't last.

Quote

There is an article in Amer Songwriter I think recently on the making of The Gambler (There were actually two recordings before Kenny Rogers) - anyway the pre-hit take on that song was that lyric was just so-so


I think this is interesting.

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 04:49 PM

feegis, the point is, "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" isn't a song until it has a melody. It gets NO profits until it has the melody. So why bother copyrighting the lyric? Like jonie said, it makes no sense to copyright anything until it's in a profitable (?) form. Does it hurt? Nope. But it's a waste of money if you ask me.
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Posted 05 June 2011 - 06:44 PM

Quote

feegis, the point is, "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" isn't a song until it has a melody. It gets NO profits until it has the melody. So why bother copyrighting the lyric? Like jonie said, it makes no sense to copyright anything until it's in a profitable (?) form. Does it hurt? Nope. But it's a waste of money if you ask me.


OK - a scenario. Let's say you wrote "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" - or something like it - as a poem. You submit it to a poetry contest. Some contest judge takes it, gives it to a struggling musician friend, and says it might make a fun song. That musician takes it, puts it to a fun melody, and sends it to a producer friend (or someone with connections) who markets it. The thing catches fire, and you hear your poem being sung all over the radio.

Not possible?

Yes - I am painfully aware that the odds are long - that point does not have to be made again. But is it possible? Is there more than one reason copyright laws exist to begin with? A scenario such as this doesn't even have to be done in an underhanded manner. It could be just an honest mistake made by unaware people. Are you telling me there's NO way this could happen, and, if it did, that you wouldn't say, "Hey.....wait a minute! Those are my words!"?

The annals of art are filled with people who tried and tried and tried and tried before they finally hit on something. You never know when it's going to come or what it might be. The fact that the odds are so long is the very reason to do it. Let's say your one in a billion shot comes along, something screwy happens, and you weren't covered. How sickening would that be? This is not a lesson you'd have to learn more than once, but it's not a lesson you have to learn the hard way, either. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure - you just don't always anticipate needing the cure until you're kicking yourself for being so foolish. You don’t want to lose your one in a billion chance.

I owned a cash business for four years, and I implemented all the typical security measures. My employees once asked me if I didn't trust them. I told them that I didn't suspect any one of them of stealing, but if I wasn't wary of employee theft, I'd be opening the door to it - because people are people, and people can get desperate or just too weak to do what's right.

So, all I can say to those on this board who aren't writing stuff that's worth stealing - keep writing, keep striving, and don't get discouraged. It's not easy, but it can happen. Be prepared when it does.

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 10:22 AM

I suppose I should also point out that my previous posts do not mean, nor is there indication that they mean, that I think there is a market for lyrics only.

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 12:57 PM

Alistair S said:

There is the possibility of partnering with someone who makes it into a song, but that is rare.

I can't comment on rarity of the occurrence - I have only personal experience as a guide - but I do regard it as essential.
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Posted 06 June 2011 - 01:25 PM

feegis said:

OK - a scenario.......... a poem. You submit it to a poetry contest. Some contest judge takes it, gives it to a struggling musician friend, and says it might make a fun song. That musician takes it, puts it to a fun melody, and sends it to a producer friend (or someone with connections) who markets it. The thing catches fire, and you hear your poem being sung all over the radio.

Not possible?

Highly unlikely.

Quite conceivably possible that a musician would choose to set a poem - even without permission to do so.

Highly unlikely that any producer friend, or anyone with 'connections' or business experience, or anyone prepared to take it to market, would spend time and expertise on a passing project which did not have explicit copyright clearance for those purposes.

I mean, certainly it is possible, but they would have to be extraordinarily stupid.
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The relation and balance of the two arts is a problem that has to be resolved anew in every song that is composed.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 03:23 PM

feegis, I'm not saying people shouldn't copyright their lyrics if they think they're so good they'll be stolen by somebody. What I'm saying is, it's pointless. The scenario you gave is so highly unlikely that it amounts to almost proving my point, instead of yours. The people who would actually take a lyric that isn't theirs and put music to it (without securing the proper permissions) are too: a. untalented and b. stupid, to ever make it something worthwhile. I think it was here in this thread that I spoke about the best answer to this same fear that is even more prevalent in screenwriting (OMG THEY'REZ GONNA STEALZ MUH WORDS!) It's simply much easier, much quicker and much safer to simply buy the screenplay (lyric in this case, though it'd be getting permission rather than buying it outright) than it would be to try and hire a new writer, start from scratch with the idea of the screenplay (since the original writer will have upwards of a dozen drafts saved and printed with dates, you can't simply use it)

It's perhaps a shakey comparison but it's the same idea. No producer or musician with any talent and any chance of going anywhere will want even the slightest bit of bad press that outright plagiarism would cause them.
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Posted 06 June 2011 - 07:20 PM

Quote

The people who would actually take a lyric that isn't theirs and put music to it (without securing the proper permissions) are too: a. untalented and b. stupid, to ever make it something worthwhile


Untalented? Well, it's the untalented ones who would need to steal - you know, desperate for money, desperate to impress, desperate to succeed (for a million different reasons) by any means necessary. They're the ones who CAN'T do it themselves. They, to me, are the biggest threat.

Stupid? Good Lord, there are countless examples of stupidity. Actually, stupidity is a bigger threat. Stupidity is the one everyone should fear the most. You know, there can be a million smart people gathered for a good reason, and all it takes is one stupid idiot to cause problems.

Crooked? You didn't mention crooked. Plagiarism does happen. Copyright infringement does happen. Copyright laws do exist for a reason, primarily because crazy things can happen. No one ever expects to be the victim.

For, like, the billionth time, I understand the odds are low. Odds are low for a lot of things we protect ourselves from. I don't know that you have really considered the scenario and realize how things can slip through the cracks and get loose and out of control. All it takes is one time, one idiot. And, again, a second after the fact is already too late. And I don't know that you really see the reason behind my position- you know, why I copyright my stuff. Do you think it's because I see my lyrics as the greatest lyrics out there and that people are just scheming to steal them? Is that what you're getting out of my comments?

I don't have an over-inflated opinion of my lyrics. I write, I make it public, I protect my stuff, because you just never know. That doesn't mean I'm this wide-eyed, naive moron with this crazy notion of fame and fortune. It just means the $100 or so a year doesn't mean as much to me as what I put into what I write. That's all. Does that make me a fool? I know the odds. I'm thoroughly aware of how low the odds are. I'm just surprised it seems like such a foolish move to some people. Some almost seem offended. I'm not saying anyone has to do it, and, quite frankly, I don't care if someone does or doesn't - I don't work for the U.S. Government to raise revenues. I'm just saying why I do.

I wrote a children's book. I wrote it to be published. Would you recommend that I not register it prior to submitting it to publishers? Should I not submit it at all because the odds are so overwhelmingly against me?

Quote

Highly unlikely that any producer friend, or anyone with 'connections' or business experience, or anyone prepared to take it to market, would spend time and expertise on a passing project which did not have explicit copyright clearance for those purposes.


Exactly! And because the poem wasn't registered, and the struggling musician has no shame and doesn't mention where the lyric came from, the clearance comes from the struggling musician because the person marketing it just assumes the musician wrote the whole thing (legwork is not always done). If the marketer says, "Do you have this copyrighted?" The musician might say, "No, not yet, but I'm doing that as we speak." Meanwhile, all you're thinking is that you didn't win the contest.

But, how would explicit copyright clearance be given? By having a registration? By the musician saying, "Yeah, I wrote the whole thing?" Well, if it's by registration, then wouldn't it be a good thing if you actually held the registration? If it's by the musician saying, "Yeah, I wrote the whole thing," then wouldn't it be a good thing if you held the registration?

Your point actually demonstrates my point. I appreciate it.

Highly unlikely? YES - I don't deny that. But Possible? Yes, and that's what you protect against - to protect your creation against the one in a billion chance that an idiot tries to disrupt your life. It's like insurance.

You know what, though. I'm getting carried away with this.

My bottom line - I know it's all a longshot. It's a longshot for people a lot better than me. I'm not naive, and I don't feel foolish for doing what I can when I have the chance to do it. It doesn't break the bank.

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 09:57 PM

feegis said:

I'm not naive, and I don't feel foolish for doing what I can when I have the chance to do it. It doesn't break the bank.

Feegis, mate - just go ahead and register - it's not a foolish thing.
It's just that you persist in saying foolish things in order to justify a decision which is not, in and of itself, foolish.

Registration does not give you protection or insurance - what is gives you is registration - which can be useful.
Earlier in the thread you said you understood these significant differences quite clearly.
Yet you continue to speak as if something other were the case - and this confuses me.

Your example - which I thought was foolish - appears to rest on the assumption that everyone involved in your hypothetical chain of events is equally foolish and is completely absent of the sort of bottom line legal savvy we would normally expect from a producer friend or person with connections or someone who can take it to market successfully enough for you to enjoy the pleasure and surprise of hearing it on the radio. Rights would be an issue at every stage. For any single one of these people notionally involved in the music business, formal clearances are crucial. They, after all, would understand only too well the damage they are exposed to without them.

OK - let's say, for the sake of argument, that the struggling musician is a liar - irrespective of whether you have registered your work or not - I mean, how would our struggling musician know whether you have or have not? Did registration protect you from that eventuality? If it happened, then the answer is - of course not. So where does protection come from? It comes from you pursuing a civil action at law for restitution.

Presuming that you would not be able to demonstrate authorship without registration rests on the further assumption that the judiciary is also foolish - which I can assure you they most definitely are not. Certainly, if there was registration, then that would constitute proof. But surely, in your example, the facts of its submission to a poetry competition would do exactly the same. Equally surely, the miscreant poetry judge who acted in total breach of his duties and responsibilities would never be asked to adjudicate another contest, the producer friend would be wearing egg on his face for a very long time, the person with connections would find their connections stopped returning calls, and the poor guy who took it to market would also be haemorrhaging credibility. Which is why rights issues are crucially attended at every turn. Not only that but, whatever indemnities they secured from the struggling musician, they would find it a very costly mistake. he radio station might also find themselves vulnerable. All of which is why your scenario is so highly unlikely as to be almost totally unfeasible. Which is why I consider it a foolish one.

The crookedness that you mention which, endemic to the music business as it is, we would all be foolish to overlook, is predominantly of a legal nature - I mean, apart from the traditional indie instances of threats of violence and having a pistol put to your head, the 'crookedness' arises from someone being foolish enough to sign a legal contract without reading it fully and without understanding its full implications.

But this is really all so much red herring we could open a market stall.

Go ahead and register - you can afford it - and it is still not a foolish thing to do.
There is absolutely no need to clutch at spurious straws in order to justify it.

I would always caution, however, from a rational-legal business point of view, against believing things which are untrue
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and the second best to sing them"

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“SONG is the joint art of words and music, two arts under emotional pressure coalescing into a third.
The relation and balance of the two arts is a problem that has to be resolved anew in every song that is composed.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 06:16 AM

Lazz, Truthfully, I'm not looking for someone to explain to me how it all works. I've done my research, and I like to think I'm not an idiot. And I'm not asking whether I should register, I've simply been explaining why I do. I don't base my decsion on what I think will happen, I base my desion on what can happen.

I just get the sense that the perception, based on the tones of some of these posts, is that people who register believe they are going to break into the music industry with their sure-fire hit lyrics and they'll be out millions of dollars if they don't protect themselves. Tell me that is not the perception behind some of these posts. If you say it's not, then you must condsider there might be other reasons people do it. Reasons all their own.

How many times and in how many ways do I have to state that I understand the odds are low? I suffer no delusions.

The scenario I presented is just that - a scenario. A scenario to demonstrate that screwy things happen. In my post I stated I understand the odds are low, and the first response I got was, "Highly unlikely." I wasn't asking for the likelihood. I was making a point of possibility that screwy things can happen. And, the truth is, no one could say it was impossible. That doesn't mean I think it will happen. I stated more than once that I understand the odds are low. But screwy things happen. Would you disagree?


Insurance: Do you think that I think it's like car insurance? If someone steals my lyric, I get reimbursed? Do you think that's what I mean by insurance?

Protection: That's exactly what it is. Your claim is for you to prove. What registration provides is just another record to support your claim. Some people like to know they have it - yes, as foolish as they might be for believing there is any possibility of something coming of it. And what I'm arming myself with is a form of legal recourse in the event - yes, the infinitesimal chance - that some idiot tries to put his name on something I've done. I don't care how bad it is or how bad anybody thinks it is or how low the chances, it's my work, and if there's any chance - and there is, because, Lord knows, there are idiots out there, then I'm going to take a fairly easy and inexpensive precautionary step.

Does that mean I think my stuff is the greatest? No, I don't even think my stuff is as good as most on this board, and certainly not as good as the elite few. And definitely nowhere near as good as Steve Earle and Mary Chapin Carpenter. That's not the reason I do it.

Some people may register their work - yes -one last time- against the most ridiculously low odds in the history of the world - and some may not. It's a preference, and a decision inspired by the very fact copyright laws exist.

One other thing - people who do underhanded things generally don't do them thinking they'll get caught. Usually because they're too stupid or too arrogant.

I do believe I've spent too much time on this, and I'm sure no one is really interested in me going on giving reasons why I do something that makes not one bit of difference to anyone else.

Best Regards,
Feegis

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 01:11 PM

I've sometimes thought of registering copyright, but would only do so for collections of stuff, rather than individually.

I haven't, because:

a. I'm too lazy

b. I suspect that, if the unlikely event was to happen, I could demonstrate ownership anyway

c. I think that lottery tickets may be a better investment

I could be wrong on at least two of those! :lol:
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Posted 07 June 2011 - 02:09 PM

One thing everyone should remember when you copyright. What you send in to have copyrighted is exactly what you send in. In other words if I stole a feegis lyric that was copyrighted, and changed some of the words and the title of that lyric, you'd have a hard time coming after me for copyright infringement, you may have a better chance of getting me in a civil suit for plagiarism, but even that would be a crap shoot.

In fact you'd have better chance of getting me in court if you used this site, with it's date stamp when you post a particular lyric for critique and feedback, as it would allow more wiggle room for you to argue that it was your idea for the lyrics, and not have to rely on the argument that the exact stated words that you copyrighted, is what I stole.
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Posted 07 June 2011 - 04:19 PM

Quote

c. I think that lottery tickets may be a better investment


You know what's funny, I actually typed up the fact that I buy a $1 ticket for Mega Millions every drawing. Odds of winning are 175,000,000 to 1. It costs me about the same amount a year to do that as to register my stuff (which doesn't just include lyrics). It has been painfully conveyed that I have better odds with the lottery. I'd probably agree, but surely it's OK to value what I write as much as what I spend on the lottery.

I feel I've conceded most of the rationale for not regeistering to exhaustion, but I haven't seen anyone that just indicates they understand that people may be doing it for reasons other than embarrassing naivete'; that it's just something someone might do becasue they feel better doing it that way.

If you've ever been screwed over by someone, and you have a chance to do something - anything- to provide some recourse in the future - you do it. You don't make the mistake again. The time I got screwed over, I didn't think that would happen, either.

Quote

One thing everyone should remember when you copyright. What you send in to have copyrighted is exactly what you send in. In other words if I stole a feegis lyric that was copyrighted, and changed some of the words and the title of that lyric, you'd have a hard time coming after me for copyright infringement, you may have a better chance of getting me in a civil suit for plagiarism, but even that would be a crap shoot.

In fact you'd have better chance of getting me in court if you used this site, with it's date stamp when you post a particular lyric for critique and feedback, as it would allow more wiggle room for you to argue that it was your idea for the lyrics, and not have to rely on the argument that the exact stated words that you copyrighted, is what I stole.


These are good points. To win a copyright infringement claim, it must be demonstrated that the person filed against had access to your work. Sites like this provide that access.

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 05:00 PM

Feegis,

Please don't feel that my post had anything in it that was meant to imply that anyone shouldn't (or should) copyright their work. It's a personal choice and there are many reasons why someone may choose to or may choose not to.

I was being flippant and my main point was that I am too lazy! That part was true! :)

Regarding this site, I wouldn't count on it to prove much. We don't keep much of a history (we delete stuff after a while). Other sites may work, though
My Soundclick Music Page
My Facebook Music Page

"In my opinion this is a bunch of filth and garbage and we need far less this type of lyrics gettin back in the ears of our children." - from a critique received

"When I was 5 years old, my mum always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wante to be when I grew up. I wrote down, "Happy". The told me I didn't understand the assignment and I told them they didn't understand life." John Lennon.

#42 User is offline   feegis Icon

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 05:19 PM

Quote

Please don't feel that my post had anything in it that was meant to imply that anyone shouldn't (or should) copyright their work. It's a personal choice and there are many reasons why someone may choose to or may choose not to.

I was being flippant and my main point was that I am too lazy! That part was true!


No, no, Alistair. I was actually having fun with your post, too. :) Truthfully, for some reason, this topic has sunk its teeth in me and it's not been letting me go. I've been very outspoken on this one, but I think I've spoken my piece. I do appreciate the acknowledgement.

Best Regards,
Feegis

#43 User is offline   Salley Gardens Icon

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 10:12 PM

View Postfeegis, on 07 June 2011 - 03:19 PM, said:

I feel I've conceded most of the rationale for not regeistering to exhaustion, but I haven't seen anyone that just indicates they understand that people may be doing it for reasons other than embarrassing naivete'; that it's just something someone might do becasue they feel better doing it that way.

I do. B) Although, I haven't registered lyrics only. I'm definitely in the "register as a collection" camp.

So far, I've only registered the first collection. I waited until I had a few solid finished pieces (3 songs, a choral piece, and 5 or so instrumental ensemble pieces) that either have been or were ready to be performed, and therefore ready for market. However, since I was assembling the collection, I included a bunch of other stuff. The final collection had somewhere between 30-50 things, even though some of them were some raw 16-bar melodies.

This was 2 or 3 years ago, and I'll be considering "Volume Two" for registration sometime this summer when I expect to have a few more pieces ready for market.

The registration process has changed since I registered Volume One, before they moved to online/audio submissions. I actually prepared and sent in a bound book of sheet music. I'll be preparing the next collection in the same manner, but will register a digital PDF of the book instead of a hard copy, and print the hard copy for myself.

Preparing the collection for copyright registration was worthwhile just by itself. It made me look at my work a new way, forced me to prepare it for marketing and finish up a few things I otherwise would have left undone. Registration was the motivation for all that work. Now I have my work organized, catalogued and printed in a way that has become a reference for me. This alone was worth $35 and hassle of registration.

It's amazing how much music I've forgotten that I created! I refer back to the book to expand on some of the material that I considered not market ready, or for new arrangements.

So, yeah, there are reasons, other than naiveté, that people want to register their copyrights.

#44 User is offline   feegis Icon

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 08:35 AM

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I do. Although, I haven't registered lyrics only. I'm definitely in the "register as a collection" camp.

So far, I've only registered the first collection. I waited until I had a few solid finished pieces (3 songs, a choral piece, and 5 or so instrumental ensemble pieces) that either have been or were ready to be performed, and therefore ready for market. However, since I was assembling the collection, I included a bunch of other stuff. The final collection had somewhere between 30-50 things, even though some of them were some raw 16-bar melodies.


Yes, I only do collections, and this is essentially how I go about it, too. It's in the fact that we can register multiple files under one collection that leads to me registering a lot of junk - simply because it doesn't matter to include it. It's still the same price. It's not like the Copyright office is reading it and saying, "What is this guy thinking?" :lol:

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Preparing the collection for copyright registration was worthwhile just by itself. It made me look at my work a new way, forced me to prepare it for marketing and finish up a few things I otherwise would have left undone. Registration was the motivation for all that work. Now I have my work organized, catalogued and printed in a way that has become a reference for me. This alone was worth $35 and hassle of registration.


Yeah, it was in looking into the registration process that I learned what I've learned, so the process itself was useful for me.

Quote

It's amazing how much music I've forgotten that I created! I refer back to the book to expand on some of the material that I considered not market ready, or for new arrangements.


That's funny! You must have a lot of music to have forgotten some of it, but, I can see it happening. I've pulled out old files - folders - with stuff I'd forgotten all about. It's kind of fun when that happens. I find myself saying, "Oh, yeah, I remember this!!!" or, "Oh, geez.....I wrote this?? :lol:

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So, yeah, there are reasons, other than naiveté, that people want to register their copyrights.


Thanks for the input. :)

#45 User is offline   Roger Icon

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 06:47 AM

View Postfeegis, on 04 June 2011 - 11:27 PM, said:

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The best thing that could happen is someone "steals" your work and gets a hit - because that would make you more saleable.


Yeah....that's always been my dream. Have some huge star steal one of my lyrics, turn it into a colossal hit, and do all the work for me. :D

For the sake of argument, if it did happen, as much of a longshot as it is, it would be to my benefit to have the registration. To the argument a lawyer won’t touch a case, if someone's making millions on a song, a lawyer will be interested in looking at the facts. Without registration, they won’t.

Imagine the guy who wrote "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" (I understand he still makes $100,000 a year in royalties). That's a funny lyric; a funny premise. What makes that song? The music? No, it's the story. The music helps, but if someone asked me what I would rather have come up with for that song, the music or the lyric, I'm taking the lyric - and I would want it registered. It's a fairly simple lyric; maybe just a flash of an idea, and that can happen anytime to anyone who writes. And I believe anyone who doesn't believe that lyric alone could spark an idea for a song is not being honest.

Let's say all he wrote was the lyric, and he submitted it for a national lyric contest. It might be rare that someone would steal something, even something brilliant, but is it not plausible? Of course, it is, and I will always believe in the "Ounce of prevention, pound of cure" axiom.

Who knows what hits? Who knows when something comes along at the right time and catches fire? Who knows when all the time and effort you put into writing, all the dues you pay in writing bad lyrics, finally pay off and someone says they want to collaborate and it catches fire? Why not have the protection?

Yes, a lot of times the music is what makes it happen. I’ve seen some great lyrics on this board, but a hit is not necessarily a great, deep, cleverly worded, profound, thing. It’s just something that comes around with the right thing at the right time – and that can happen anytime, starting in written form. Can you recognize it? Not always (see quote below that Ron posted). So, I say, get the registration.

I like to have faith in people, but I'm going to cover my interests for the ridiculously low chance that something I write hits. Maybe writing something that hits is one in a million (excuse me, billion), but since I can register all billion of them for the same $35 (if I do it all at once as one collection), I, for reasons all my own, am going to say, why not? Probably nothing is ever going to happen, but I prefer to look at the glass as half full, and I want to be covered. We write for a reason, and we shouldn't let anyone who presumes to deem anything we write as unworthy dissuade us from protecting our creation. We’re not talking thousands of dollars.

I wrote a children's story. Whether it's good is subjective. But should I not submit it to publishers because chances are slim? Because the odds are against me? Would it be prudent to submit it to publishers without registering it first? This is the reason copyright and registration exist to begin with, and a second after the fact is already too late.

If you write for a purpose, then protect what you create. Maybe it's just a source of pride. It doesn’t make what you wrote better or more important, but you can prove your legal claim to it in the crazy chance it catches fire. It’s your creation. So what if someone doesn't think it's worthy. You'll come across a lot of people who tell you that. Harry Potter was passed on. The Beatles were told they wouldn't last.

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There is an article in Amer Songwriter I think recently on the making of The Gambler (There were actually two recordings before Kenny Rogers) - anyway the pre-hit take on that song was that lyric was just so-so


I think this is interesting.



Just responding to one part of this post. The idea that the writer of "Grandma" is still making $100,000 a year is patently false. Knock a zero off of that & you'd be closer to the correct number.

#46 User is offline   Salley Gardens Icon

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 11:10 AM

View PostRoger, on 14 June 2011 - 05:47 AM, said:

Just responding to one part of this post. The idea that the writer of "Grandma" is still making $100,000 a year is patently false. Knock a zero off of that & you'd be closer to the correct number.

I'll *take* it!! :)

#47 User is offline   FunkDaddy Icon

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 12:55 AM

View PostRoger, on 14 June 2011 - 07:47 AM, said:

Just responding to one part of this post. The idea that the writer of "Grandma" is still making $100,000 a year is patently false. Knock a zero off of that & you'd be closer to the correct number.


I'm not his accountant but the royalties from that song extend well beyond airplay and conventional writer's income.
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#48 User is offline   Roger Icon

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 05:50 AM

View PostFunkDaddy, on 14 June 2011 - 11:55 PM, said:

View PostRoger, on 14 June 2011 - 07:47 AM, said:

Just responding to one part of this post. The idea that the writer of "Grandma" is still making $100,000 a year is patently false. Knock a zero off of that & you'd be closer to the correct number.


I'm not his accountant but the royalties from that song extend well beyond airplay and conventional writer's income.



I'm aware of all the revenue streams the song potentially generates. That is still an inflated number. The only possible way that song still gets that kind of income is if the writer has a guarantee from SESAC (the PRO on that song). At one time SESAC used to give those to certain writers/certain songs. I don't believe they do anymore, but that copyright is old enough that it may still be on a guarantee, which would very much make it the exception rather than the rule.

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 02:52 PM

For what it's worth - publishers in Nashville don't bother to register copyrights until songs get cut.

#50 User is online   Neal K Icon

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 03:05 PM

View Postbarbaracloyd, on 31 August 2011 - 12:52 PM, said:

For what it's worth - publishers in Nashville don't bother to register copyrights until songs get cut.


Barbara, we tell newbies this all the time, but they come to this site convinced that their songs are going to be stolen.

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