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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.

Instructions

  • 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.
  • TIP: If you'd rather mail your application — which is slower — download and complete Form CO, and send it in with a check or money order for $45 and a copy or recording of your work.
  • 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.
  • TIP: Before providing optional information, remember your application will be available to others, and much of it may be accessible online.
  • 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.
  • TIP: You can choose to send a hard copy, but it won't be returned, and you'll need to send it in a box -- not an envelope. Click to print a shipping slip, and be sure to send CDs in full-sized jewel cases.
  • 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.
  • FACT: David Bowie and Queen successfully sued Vanilla Ice for copyright infringement of their song "Under Pressure" when Vanilla's song "Ice Ice Baby" became a hit in 1990.

You Will Need

  • A copy of the song
  • A filing fee

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