Keep Your Music Alive! Learn How To Copyright a Song and Take Down Pirates!

Before you dive into the music copyright laws and learn how to copyright your work, take notice that as soon as you create your song, it’s legally yours. 

Whether it’s music, lyrics, or a combination, the U.S. copyright laws, like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), guarantee that you are the sole owner of that song. 

What most artists do when copyrighting a song is register it with the U.S. Copyright Office. You don’t have a legal obligation to do that, but it can help fight copyright infringement


Can I Publish Music Before It’s Registered With the Copyright Office?

As long as your song exists in some physical way (written down or recorded) and not as a tune in your head, you can publish it without registering it with the U.S. Copyright Office. 

This automatic copyright works by providing a package of rights attached to your song. 

Here is an overview of some rights you automatically get as soon as you create a song:

Derivative Works You are the only one who can modify your work to create a new song. You can also grant someone else a license to do this
Public Performing Right As the owner of the song, you are the only one who can decide when and how the song will be available in public
Public Performing License You or the publishing company you sign with can grant permission for someone else to perform your song
Reproduction Right You are the only one who can control the manner of reproducing your song
Mechanical License You can give permission to someone to reproduce and distribute your song at an agreed price
Synchronization License As a song owner, you can grant permission for your song to be used as background music in a movie or a television show

Should You Register a Copyright for Your Music?

You are not obliged to register a copyright for your song, and you may be wondering why you should when you automatically have an abundance of rights and ownership over your work. 

The problem is that music is incredibly easy to steal, and the number of copyright infringement cases in the music industry doesn’t discredit this information. 

You may have your song written down and recorded, but what happens if you hear a part of it somewhere else? How can you prove that you were the one who recorded it first? 

When you register your song with the U.S. Copyright Office, you get a certificate of registration of your copyright. 

This document is a public record of your ownership and admissible evidence in court that you were the first to create the song. 

Another plus of registering with the Copyright Office is the duration of the copyright

It is valid during your lifetime and extends for another 70 years.

How To Copyright Music by Registering With the U.S. Copyright Office 

The U.S. Copyright Office offers two methods of copyright registration: via mail or online.

You can mail a printed version of your application, your song, and a filing fee of $85 to 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540, United States.

If you prefer registering online, follow these steps :

  1. Visit the U.S. Copyright Office website
  2. Click on the Register option
  3. Scroll down and click on Performing Arts
  4. Select the Register a Work of the Performing Arts link
  5. Log in or Sign Up if you don’t have an account
  6. Click on the Copyright Registration option on the left side
  7. Select Register a New Claim
  8. Click on Start Registration 
  9. Submit the form
  10. Pay the fee 
  11. Send a digital or a hard copy of your song—depending on the requirements

How To Protect a Song From Copyright Infringement With DMCA Takedown Notice

Even if you register a copyright for your song, that won’t stop the pirates. Music is still heavily pirated, which means there is a chance to find your song online ready to be downloaded illegally. 

You do have one powerful DMCA protection mechanism—the copyright infringement notice.

DMCA takedown notice is a document that you can send to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) hosting the website where your song is posted without your permission. 

This applies to any website. Even if you notice your song used in a YouTube video, you can send a YouTube DMCA notice and ask them to take down your music.

The problem with the DMCA notice is that it’s a legal document, full of complicated words with specific mandatory sections. ISPs will not even consider it without all the necessary components. 

What Should a DMCA Notice Look Like?

The DMCA notice doesn’t have a specific outline, and you can write it in free form, but there are some sections that you need to include:

  • Contact details, such as name, email, phone number, and mailing address are necessary so that the ISP can contact you
  • Link to the website where you originally posted your song—you can also include your copyright certificate if you registered your song
  • Links to content infringing on your copyright
  • A statement of good faith in which you as the owner claim you have not authorized the posting of the content on the infringing website
  • An accuracy statement where you affirm under penalty of perjury that the information in your DMCA notice is true to the best of your knowledge
  • An electronic signature

If this seems a bit complex, don’t get discouraged. A DMCA notice is supposed to look professional, and it will if you use DoNotPay to create one. 

How To Create a DMCA Notice With DoNotPay

You do not need a legal expert to write a convincing DMCA notice that will get noticed and accepted by the ISP hosting the infringing website. DoNotPay is the virtual lawyer app that can help you generate an effective and high-quality DMCA notice in no time. 

Follow these steps to generate a DMCA notice with our app:

  1. Open DoNotPay in your web browser
  2. Click on the DMCA Takedown feature
  3. Type in the title of your song
  4. Enter the link to the website infringing on your copyright
  5. Type in the link to the website where you posted the song originally
  6. Click on the Sign and Submit button

We will send your DMCA notice to the ISP in question. You can check the progress in the My Disputes tab on your DoNotPay Dashboard.

DoNotPay Is a Powerful Pocket Assistant

DoNotPay is a versatile app that can teach you about all the aspects of protecting your work. 

We can show you how much does it cost to copyright a song and how posting a copyright notice can help safeguard your content. 

If you decide to publish on YouTube, we can guide you through the YouTube copyright system and show you how to file a copyright claim on the platform. 

Open DoNotPay in your web browser and check how we can help you with: