This is a guest post created by Cosynd.
The music you create is your asset and that asset needs to be protected.
One of the smartest things you could do today, would be to register your works with the U.S. Copyright Office. And in doing so, it can pay off in big ways—especially when things go wrong.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at those benefits and the recent changes in legislation/policy that could affect you.
First, let’s start with the harmful myths and the harsh realities around copyright registration that you need to know:
Myth: I don’t need to register, as long as I’ve mailed myself a copy of my work.
Reality: Mailing yourself a copy of your work is an obsolete practice. It does not grant you any rights or prove your ownership.
Myth: Registration is not required to file a lawsuit.
Reality: In 2019, The Supreme Court mandated that you MUST register with the U.S. Copyright Office before you can file an infringement lawsuit. The Copyright Office must approve or refuse your application before you can file a lawsuit for copyright infringement, except in cases involving a non-U.S. work.
Myth: It doesn’t matter when I register. I can wait until my content is infringed upon.
Reality: Creators that have registered are entitled to statutory damages of $150,000 per willful infringement and attorney’s fees as long as the infringement began after the date of registration. In other words, if you wait to register, you’re leaving serious money on the table.
Myth: You can list your entire catalog on one application.
Reality: There are now different application types and new rules. Your catalog will need to be divided into separate applications that follow these rules (P.S. You can use our application calculator to help you determine how to break your catalog up when using Cosynd to register).
Myth: I can easily correct it if I file the wrong application.
Reality: The Copyright Office does not issue refunds. If you file the wrong application, you will have to pay new federal filing fees and wait for several months for your application to be approved (or denied again).
Now, here are some of your basic rights as a copyright owner. It’s true, a copyright exists the moment a work is created. It keeps your original work—songs, books, articles, art, photographs and more—safe from being used without your consent. As a copyright owner, you have the exclusive rights to perform the actions below and/or authorize others to act on your behalf:
Reproduce a work
Create derivative works (e.g. a film adaptation of a book)
Distribute the work for sale, rental, lease, or lending
Perform or display the work publicly
Incorporate the work with visual images, if applicable
License others to do any of the things listed above
On top of your rights as a copyright owner, there are a number of benefits you are entitled to, if you register your works with the U.S. Copyright Office:
There is now an established public record of the ownership of your original work.
You receive a certificate as physical proof of your registration.
Registration gives you the option to file an infringement suit, if necessary. At the court’s discretion, this could yield you somewhere between $750 and $30,000 per work, and may even increase up to $150,000 per work, if the infringement was determined to be deliberate.
You may also be eligible to recoup attorney’s fees from litigation.
Registration is considered factual evidence in a court of law if filed within 5 years of publication.
You can record the registration with the U.S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies of your work.
When you register matters. In March of 2019, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is mandatory to register your copyrights before you can file an infringement lawsuit and recently cases have been dismissed for failing to register beforehand. You may be entitled to statutory damages of $150,000 per willful infringement only if the infringement began after you registered.
“Registration” in this case means that the Copyright Office has reviewed your application and provided a decision regarding it. Obtaining a decision can take 3 to 7 months. You can expedite your registration for a hefty fee of $800, but there is no guarantee that registration will be approved and it may be a moot tactic if the infringement occurred well before your registration.
Can’t I just mail myself a copy of my work as proof of my ownership? You may have heard that you can establish the date of creation for the work you created by mailing yourself a copy and keeping it in a sealed envelope; this is often called "poor man's” copyright.
While historically this has been very popular among creators, what’s most important to note here is that, there is no provision in copyright law regarding “poor man’s” copyright and it is not a substitute for registering your works with the U.S. Copyright Office. Copyright owners that rely on “poor man’s” copyright are not granted the same protections and rights of owners that registered with the Copyright Office.
The difference is critical, particularly when it comes to your ability to enforce your rights legally. In other words, that unopened envelope you’ve tucked away that contains a copy of your work is now useless.
Here’s the good news: You can use Cosynd to register your works with the U.S. Copyright Office, in a fast and affordable way. Since you’re a member with Bandzoogle, you can protect your music, videos, images, and more in minutes for just $25 (plus federal filing fees) per registration application. When you use Cosynd to register your copyrights, you never need to:
Think about what application type you should be using
Think about what work type category that applies to you
Enter repetitive data over and over
Read through lengthy instruction documentation to complete your application
Worry about making any of the errors that cause applications to be delayed or denied
Bonus: In addition to registration, Cosynd is the only solution that can also help you simultaneously manage all of your split sheets, work for hire agreements, and other copyright ownership agreements with one easy account.
If you’d prefer registering on your own, here are some tips:
Read the Copyright Office’s guidelines carefully to determine which application you should use. At the time of posting this, most registration applications cost $45, $65, or $85 per application depending on your registration type. If you are filing a paper form, the application fee is $125.
Select the correct category of work type for your registration. You may need to research which work type is most applicable to your work. For example, song registrations can fall under different categories.
Research the correct way to list multiple works on a single application - Multiple works can be submitted on a single application if the standards for authorship, ownership, publication, and creation are met.
Provide as much detailed information as possible for authors, claimants, and transfers of ownership (if applicable).
Be prepared — this can be a time consuming process if you do not have all of the required information prepared before you begin!
Good luck, creators!
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Cosynd is the fastest and most affordable way for content creators to protect themselves and their life’s work. We’re the only solution that gives creators the ability to build, negotiate, and sign vital contracts that secure their copyrights, which we then register with the Copyright Office. We’re turning a long, expensive process into one that saves creators of video, music, visual art, and literature thousands in legal fees with just a few clicks. With solutions for both individuals and businesses alike, Cosynd is leveling the playing field and making basic copyright protection affordable and accessible to everyone. www.cosynd.com
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