How to Copyright a Song

You were making up a song in the shower this morning and realized you could have a hit on your hands! Register its copyright so no one else can steal your little ditty.

You will need

  • A copy of the song
  • A filing fee

Step 1 Ready your song Ready your song for submission by writing out the sheet music — and lyrics, if any — or recording it as an MP3, or on a cassette tape, LP, or CD.

Step 2 Create an account Go to the U.S. Copyright Office website — at http://www.copyright.gov — and click on the electronic copyright office. Register for a free account, which you’ll use to submit your work for copyright.

Step 3 Fill out the application Complete the online copyright application. You’ll be asked questions about yourself and your work, and where you’d like the copyright certification to be sent.

Step 4 Pay the fee Pay the $35 fee online with a credit or debit card, electronic check, or a Copyright Office deposit account.

Step 5 Upload your work After completing payment, upload an electronic copy of your work. While most major types of audio, text, and image files are accepted, see the Copyright Office’s FAQ for a complete list.

Step 6 Wait Wait for the certificate of registration, which can take about eight months if you filed by paper. Your actual copyright, however, becomes effective the day your materials are received.