Musician/songwriter forums, such as SongStuff.com, are incredibly useful for certain things.
Seeking reliable, definitive advice about copyright related questions is not among them.
Yet year-after-year we see an endless parade of new-member posts inquiring about exactly that.
There are 2 generally accepted sources for information pertaining to copyright:
- The Library of Congress (Washington D.C.)
- Entertainment Attorneys
Consulting the first of those sources is free, but you'll need to do the research yourself & draw your own conclusions based on that research. Typically, entertainment attorneys are not free! You'll probably have to pay for their advice, but they will get the answers for you. If you're undecided about which of these avenues is best, I recommend asking yourself one simple question.
Can you afford to pay an attorney?
If the answer to that question is NO, then there is no decision to be made.
The Library of Congress is for you!
That's exactly how I learned & I've been registering copyrights for 16+ years.
Believe me....it's much easier to find information now, than it was 16 years ago.
Here are a number of direct links you may find useful:
- United States Copyright Office http://copyright.gov/
- Why Should I Register My Work? FAQ page http://copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#automatic
- Copyright FAQ - http://copyright.gov/help/faq/index.html
- Electronic Copyright Office tutorial - http://copyright.gov/eco/eco-tutorial.pdf
- Online Copyright Registration - http://copyright.gov/eco/
If you're still bound & determined to ask your question on a musician/songwriter's forum, here's what you can expect.
- You'll get an array of responses & contradictory advice, from well-meaning individuals with a variety of qualifications.
- Those responses may be based on personal experience, personal knowledge, guesswork or opinion. You'll have absolutely no way of knowing which, since the people offering it are virtual strangers.
- The conversation will stray from your original question. Based on years of personal experience, I can tell you that it always does. You'll end up reading responses, which have little or nothing to do with your original question.
- If you do get lucky enough to find a forum member who is actually a practicing attorney, there's no way they'll be willing to risk whatever liability may result from offering you free online advice. If they are willing to offer an opinion at all, it'll be strictly a personal opinion, NOT a legal recommendation. Even in the best case scenario, you won't have advice that you can afford to count on.
BTW - this will always be the case, regardless of the specific forum!
When it's all said and done, you'll come away with unreliable advice.
It's your work.....right?
That is why you asked the question to begin with...right?
So are you really willing to base your decision on advice offered by a bunch of total strangers?
If you're truly concerned about protecting your work, you can't afford to guess. You need to know!
Hopefully, this blog article doesn't offend anyone. That's not my intent.
I am simply amazed at our chosen methods for acquiring information these days.
Many seem to feel that asking complete strangers is better than figuring it out for themselves.
I find that incredibly sad!