Copyright and You


Nothing like a good vinyl picture taken by Victoria Marie

After being in the studio for days, you just finished recording and mastering your first album and want to share it with the world. The bass player pulls up Reverbnation and Soundcloud popping in the only copy of the songs into the drive. You even call up your girlfriend’s brother to get his computer ready to burn CDs for your next show. But before you do anything, the first thing you should do is make sure it is copyrighted.

Poor Man’s Myth

No one really knows when this started but a whole bunch of musicians thought it would be a cheap and easy way to get his or her songs copyrighted. They would self-address an envelope and mail the completed album and never open it. They figured the postal mark would indicate when the song was written and prove ownership. This will not work as evidence in a court of law.

Why Copyright?

Now that we got that out of the way, why should you copyright your music with the Library of Congress? Two reasons: one you will have legal documentation that proves ownership and two it can be used in the federal court system during an infringement case. You will be able to sue for punitive damages. You can also check out Shawn E. Bell’s ways on how to fake the Poor Man’s Copyright.

How to Copyright

It really isn’t that expensive to copyright an entire album. I’ve done it a few times and the process is fairly simple. You will first log onto the eCo Online System. Create a user id, this way you can keep track of your copyrights. Fill out all the important information. Check off who did what on the album and upload. But if you are having trouble, you can always hire a lawyer to do it for you.

More Resources on Copyright Law

Copyright – Works made for Hire

Fair Use


Gower, K. (2007). Legal and ethical considerations for public relations. (2nd ed). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.Duncan, A. (2004). Difference Persuasion

Reid, A. (2012). The Power of Music: Applying First Amendment Scrutiny to Copyright Regulation of Internet Radio. Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal, 20(2), 233-279.

Varner, K. C., & Varner, E. V. (2012). ARTISTS “UNDER PRESSURE”: COPYRIGHT ISSUES IN POPULAR MUSIC. Mustang Journal Of Law & Legal Studies, (3), 31-41.

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