How to Copyright Music & Lyrics

With the invention of the Internet and other technological advances allowing the easy distribution of music, it is important for musicians to copyright music and lyrics to prevent the work from being stolen. However, also due to the Internet, the ability for a musician to copyright their material is quicker than ever.

Online

Go to the eCO Online System page at the website of the U.S. Copyright Office. Create an account and log in.

Complete Form CO. Choose "Sound recording" as the type of work. Fill in the information about your music and lyrics, such as the name of the song and the date you created it.

Upload your music to the website. The music will need to be in a compatible file format. These formats include .aif, .aiff, .au, .mid, .midi, .rmi, .mp3, .ra, .ram, .rmi, .wav or. wma files.

Pay a fee of $35. Provide bank information to pay by electronic funds transfer or provide a credit card or a debit card for payment.

Print out the completed forms to save for your records. You can sign back in later to check on the progress.

With the invention of the Internet and other technological advances allowing the easy distribution of music, it is important for musicians to copyright music and lyrics to prevent the work from being stolen. However, also due to the Internet, the ability for a musician to copyright their material is quicker than ever.

Mail

Burn a copy of your music on a CD and make a copy of your lyrics.

Complete Form CO. Choose "Sound recording" as the type of work. Fill in the information about your music and lyrics, such as the name of the song and the date you created it. Print out two copies of the completed application.

Mail the CD, lyric sheet, and one copy of the completed application to the U.S. Copyright Office. Keep the other copy for yourself. Along with the material, you will need to pay a processing fee of $50, payable by check or money order.

Wait for your copyright to be completed. The process can take as long as 22 months, but in most cases is completed more quickly.

Tips

  • If needed, the U.S. Copyright Office website also offers PDF instructions you can download for help filling out Form CO.
  • You can copyright an entire album or CD of music by following the same steps and sending the completed album. Complete copyright forms for every song on the album.

References

Resources

About the Author

Rick Paulas is a freelance writer based out of Los Angeles. He has been writing professionally since 2005. He has previously written for "McSweeney's," ESPN.com, "Vice Magazine" and "Radar Magazine," and has worked as an editor for "The Coming," "Duct Tape & Rouge," and "TSB Magazine." Paulas holds a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunications and advertising from Michigan State University.

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