Curious about the benefits of music copyright?
In most cases, independent musicians typically don’t have the resources to pursue copyright infringement cases.
This isn’t much of a surprise since, historically, federal court cases cost, on average, $200k for everyone involved.
In a lot of circumstances, it simply isn’t worth it to take these grievances to court.
More often than not, these issues are settled out of court, and even then, this is still on the extreme end of things.
If you’re an artist just starting out, chances are you won’t have the funds to take anything to this level.
The good news is that a new bill called The CASE ACT was introduced in 2019, making these lawsuits a quick and affordable process for all creators/businesses.
Furthermore, if the asset in question is making little to no money, then you may not have any damages worth pursuing.
It’s also important to note that copyright technically exists as soon as you finish creating your work.
So if that’s the case, then what’s the point of officially copyrighting your music at all?
This question gets asked a lot, and artists usually think that you shouldn’t worry about copyrights until a situation arises.
The fact is, when you buy into this way of thinking, you’re often way too late to the party when it comes time to protect yourself appropriately.
Regardless if you’re making millions of dollars or merely scratching the surface with your music career, its important to know your rights as an artist and understand the benefits associated with officially copyrighting your music, which is as follows:
Certificate of Registration
There are many myths and misconceptions about what counts as proof of ownership or what will hold up in court.
Do keep in mind that you can’t actually file an infringement suit until you’ve gone through the process of registering your music entirely – which typically takes 3-7 months.
The fact remains that when you officially register your copyrights, you are given a certificate of registration that acts as proof that you own the copyright as you say you do.
Registering your copyright doesn’t mean that someone can’t come along and say otherwise, but this undoubtedly helps your case more than it hurts you.
The Most Effective Way to Fight Infringement
Registering your copyright does not absolve you of all problems. If you’re in music long enough, chances are you’ll find yourself in a situation where you feel someone has infringed upon your copyright or vice versa.
The benefits of having your music registered are that it helps to deter this from happening, to a degree, as there is a public record of the copyright that can be accessed.
When someone is looking to use a sample or do a cover song, for example, they need your permission to do so, and if they know who owns the rights to the music they wish to use, the better chance they have of finding you and requesting permission.
This is where companies like Harry Fox Agency (HFA) and Easy Song Licensing come into play to help artists with this area.
HFA is the leading provider of rights administration, licensing, and royalty services for the U.S. music industry.
HFA issues the largest number of licenses for the use of music in both physical and digital distribution formats in the U.S. and handles royalty payments to music publishers for over 100,000 catalogs. Learn more about HFA here.
Easy Song Licensing was established In 2007 and began offering cover song licensing services to the public. Today, their focus is on licensing. They serve 60,000 happy customers and process $1.4 million in royalties each year.
Furthermore, they have expanded their offerings to include custom music clearances for any use, digital reporting services for publishers, backing tracks, and a web API for our business partners. Learn more about Easy Song Licensing here.
Allows You to File Grievances
Due to a Supreme Court ruling in March of 2019 and implemented in the United States, you cannot bring a case to court unless you have officially registered your copyright.
“In March of 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that copyright owners must register their copyrights and have their application approved) with the U.S. Copyright Office before a lawsuit can be filed.”
In other areas of the world, like Europe and Canada, you may still be able to bring forth cases but will have to provide additional forms of proof.
Eligible to Collect More
As mentioned previously, if you have to take someone to court, the expense can be quite considerable for all parties involved.
However, registration may make you eligible to collect more damages and attorney’s fees if you’re successful with the case.
Public Record of Ownership
The great thing about registering is that it becomes public knowledge that you own the asset. It also provides a public record of everyone involved and details information beyond just ownership.
Prima Facie Evidence
This is a legal term that simply means you have ample evidence to prove something by pointing to some basic facts. Prima Facie Evidence is obtained when you register your copyrights within five years of the publication of your content.
Suppose someone attempts to import large quantities of your CDs or vinyl, for example, and have the intention of selling these copies for a profit without your knowledge.
In that case, you can attempt to put a stop to this by recording the registration of your copyright with Customs Services.
Helps Avoids Legal Issues
As mentioned earlier, no one wants to deal with legal cases and the fees that accompany them. While you don’t need to have a copyright to avoid legal cases, it certainly helps when approaching someone who happens to be infringing on your copyright.
Avoids Collaboration Disputes
If you don’t register your copyrights or create an agreement with the people you are working with.
By default, each collaborator will own an equal share of the content being created regardless of their contribution.
If you have the proper agreements in place, you can ensure that everyone is fairly compensated.
Saves You Time & Money
Protecting yourself now through the registration of your copyrights will better prepare you for any future issues and disputes.
In most situations where you have to scramble and do things last minute, you will waste time and potentially a considerable amount of money over something that could have been completed in a matter of minutes and for pennies on the dollar.
Leave a Legacy
While a lot of the discussion may seem to revolve around you, the fact remains that other people in your life could benefit from this as well.
In the Blurred Lines case, Marvin Gaye wasn’t even alive, but his family was able to put forth a winnable case based on the copyrights in place.
Now you may think that there’s no way your music will amount to such a level, but the fact remains that you just never know who might come along and make something more of your creation once you put it out there.
We often see how an artist’s success can skyrocket after their untimely demise. Having the right copyright protection in place can benefit your family after you’re gone, which is never a bad thing.
Final Thoughts On The Benefits of Music Copyright
As you can see, registering your copyrights provides you with several benefits and peace of mind. Don’t get caught scrambling when a copyright issue arises. Take steps to protect yourself now and avoid a bigger headache in the future.
Cosynd and Music With Flavor are excited to partner to provide you with affordable, simple copyright services.
Protecting Your Content is Now Easier and More Affordable Than Ever Before. You can register a song or an entire album with the U.S. Copyright Office in minutes for as little as $25. (plus federal filing fees) per application.
You can also create FREE customized split sheets – a simple, one-page agreement that establishes the percentage of a copyright that you and your collaborators each own.
Best of all, you can protect all of your copyrights – your music, videos, images, and documents – using Cosynd.