How to Copyright an MP3

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Advances in audio technology change the way we record and experience music. MP3 technology, especially, affects our practices. The change to MP3 technology even impacts procedures for copyrighting audio recordings. For this reason, there are specific things you must do in order to copyright an MP3.

Verify that you have a license to record the composition in the first place. If you didn't write the music or the spoken word, you must obtain permission from the copyright holder in order to record it in MP3 format (or any other format, for that matter).

Realize that, from the time you record the MP3, you legally own the copyright. The steps you take after recording only create a legal record of that copyright.

Complete the required forms listed on the U.S. Copyright Office-Sound Recording website. This registers your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, and creates a public record stating you own the copyright to the MP3.

Register your MP3 with the Library of Congress. This creates an additional public and verifiable record of your copyright. The Library of Congress Recording Sound Reference Center contains further information about entering your MP3 into the Library of Congress.

Clearly state your copyright when you distribute your MP3 file. While it is relatively easy to copyright an MP3, enforcing that copyright after the fact can be expensive and time-consuming. Stating your copyright upon distribution helps reduce the risk that someone will infringe upon your copyright.