Understanding How to Register Music through the Copyright Department

Last week I mailed my “deposits” to the Copyright Department so that I could apply to have my CD, TEMPTATION, registered.

I started learning about Copyright in 2012.

I wanted to better understand Copyright so that I could post my original music on YouTube. Therefore, I began talking with the extremely helpful attorney, Thomas Allen, of Geier Homar & Roy LLP,  and he helped me understand Copyright.

In 2012, I started posting covers on my YouTube channel. People who had heard my songs live had asked why I didn’t have my own songs on my YouTube channel. I told them that I was hesitant about posting my songs because I didn’t know how to protect my work.

Then, I learned from Thomas that you can add the copyright symbol, year, and date to anything that is your created work. You don’t even need to register your work to do this. Once I learned this information, I began posting acoustic videos of my songs online with the Copyright symbol.

Now that I have made a CD, it is really important to me that my songs are registered through the Copyright Department.

Although I am still trying to process the fact that I finished my CD, I knew that I needed to get kicking on registering my CD through the Copyright Department because you need to register a work within 3 months of the date that that work was  published.

Here’s what I have learned about registering a song or multiple songs through the Copyright Department:

  • You can register an audio file or CD online at the Electronic Copyright Office (ECO), here.
  • After you create an account, you can start the Copyright application process.
  • The  first thing you will need to do is to determine what type of work you are registering and whether or not your work is “published.”
    • A work is published if you have made it available to the public (i.e. Posted your work online so others can listen to it, distributed copies of your CD to the public, etc). In my case, my CD became “published” once my Kickstarter backers obtained their digital and hard copies of TEMPTATION.
  • After you determine if your work is published or unpublished, then you can proceed to the remainder of the Copyright registration application process which asks you to provide information about yourself and the work you are registering.
  • After you provide information about yourself and your work, you will need to pay the registration fee.
  • For the final step of the registration process, you will be asked for a “deposit.” This is a digital or physical copy of your work that the Copyright Department reviews and archives. You can only upload an electronic deposit for certain types of works.
    • For example, if I wanted to register a song that was ONLY available online, I could upload a digital copy of the work.
    • However, if I wanted to register a song that could be found on a physical CD (even if it is also available online), I would need to burn a non-mp3 version of the song onto 2 discs and mail them to the Copyright Department.
    • If I wanted to register all of the songs on one CD, I would need to submit 2 copies of the CD and everything that the CD is distributed with (like the album art, the CD booklet, etc.).

Last week I was really excited to be at the post office, mailing the Copyright Department two copies of TEMPTATION. It was another one of those moments where it really hit me: I really did finish my CD!

My CD release show is only a few weeks away! I hope to see you there!


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