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Copyright/Publishing

Copyright | Publishing | Performing Rights Affiliations  |  Licensing | Royalties | Trademarks

 

Copyright

The Library of Congress handles all copyright applications through the Copyright Office. Beginning in mid-2008, the most current form for song registration is online Form CO, although the old forms for song registration - Form PA (Performing Arts) and Form SR (Sound Recording) - may still be requested and used.

Advantages of filing a copyright registration using online Form CO include:

  • Lower filing fee of $35 for a basic claim;
  • Fastest processing time;
  • Online status tracking;
  • secure payment by credit or debit card, electronic check, or Copyright Office deposit account;
  • the ability to upload recordings directly into eCO as electronic files.

Before using the service, we recommend you first read eCO Tips, eCO FAQs, or eCO Tutorial (PowerPoint) eCO Tutorial (PDF).

The two alternate methods to the online Form CO application for song registration include:

 

1) Registration with Fill-In Form CO

The next best option for registering basic claims is the new fill-in Form CO, which replaces Forms PA and SR. Using 2-D barcode scanning technology, the Office can process these forms much faster and more efficiently than paper forms completed manually. Simply complete Form CO on your personal computer, print it out, and mail it along with a check or money order and your deposit. The fee for a basic registration on Form CO is $50.

 

2) Registration with Paper Forms

Paper versions of Form PA (performing arts works, including motion pictures); Form SR (sound recordings) are still available. The fee for a basic registration using one of these forms is $65 payable by check or money order. Form CON (continuation sheet for applications) is also still available in paper. These paper forms are not accessible on the Copyright Office website; however, staff will send them to you by postal mail upon request.

 

Remember that online registration through eCO and fill-in Form CO (see above) can be used for the categories of works applicable to Forms PA and SR. Form eCO was created in 2008 to replace and consolidate forms PA and SR. For personal assistance call (202) 707-3000 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. CST.

 

If you want to determine the copyright ownership of a specific musical work, you can search the Library of Congress' online registration catalog for works registered since 1978. Contact the Library of Congress at (202) 707-6850 for additional information and fees.

 

To determine the current publisher of a song, contact the Research and Information Department of BMI at (212) 586-2000 or ASCAP's Clearance Express (ACE) at (212) 621-6160 or the SESAC Repertoire at http://www.sesac.com/repertory/repertory_main.asp or by calling (615) 320-0055. You must know the song title and name of the songwriter(s) prior to contacting either of these performing rights organizations.

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Publishing

Music Publishing is a major source of revenue for songwriters. There are four methods of generating income through publishing: mechanical rights income, public performance income, sheet music income, and synchronization income.

 

Mechanical Income is earned from the manufacture and sale of the recording. In the United States the royalty rates are set by the Copyright Royalty Tribunal. The mechanical income is paid to the publisher of the composition by the record company that manufactured the recording, usually on a quarterly basis.

 

Public Performance Income is compensation for the copyright owner for the public performance of their music. The majority of this income is collected by the Performing Rights Organizations since it would be difficult for an individual to collect from all radio and television stations, concert halls, nightclubs and other venues.

 

Sheet Music Income comes from the sale of the printed form of the music. It too can create substantial earnings for a songwriter.

 

Synchronization Income is generated by having the composition placed into film and television productions. Normally the additional exposure from being featured in a production such as this will generate more popularity and income for the song.

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Performing Rights Affiliations

ASCAP
Michael Martin, Senior Creative Director of Membership
2 Music Square West, Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 742-5000; (800) 492-7227, (800) 910-7347; fax (615) 742-5020


BMI
Bradley Collins, Senior Director of Writer/Publisher Relations
10 Music Square East, Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 401-2000; fax (615) 401-2707


SESAC
Tim Fink, Associate Vice President, Writer/Publisher Relations
55 Music Square East
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 320-0055; fax (615) 321-6290

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Licensing

By licensing your work you are granting permission for someone to incorporate your creative idea into their own new project, normally in exchange for a flat fee or a percentage of their profits. Licensing is closely related to publishing because it essentially means that the author or owner of the copyright has agreed to let someone else use the work, and the methods used to generate income are virtually identical for both.

 

It is important to understand that if you own the rights to a song, it is your decision to license your material or not. Most requests are typically granted, but there are many reasons why a rights holder will deny a request including but not limited to: temporary contractual restrictions, creative issues over certain topics (alcohol, violence, etc.), and the most common is probably that the song owner may feel that a usage warrants a higher fee than you have offered.

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Mechanical Royalties and Licensing

If you are a publisher (representing songwriters whose work has been licensed by record labels, online music services, ringtone companies, etc.) and are interested in affiliating with an agency to collect your mechanical royalties, or are a record company or other licensee that would like to request a license, contact:

 

Harry Fox Agency
711 Third Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10017
(212) 834-0100; fax (212) 953-2384

Harry Fox Agency en Español has answers to frequently asked questions regarding HFA and music licensing, along with a direct email, esp@harryfox.com, which goes directly to the company's Latin Licensing agents.
Contacto e español:
Isabel Mayoral
(212) 922-3290

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Digital Performance Royalties

SoundExchange is the first organization designated by the U.S. Copyright Office to collect digital performance royalties for featured recording artists, sound recording copyright owners (SRCOs) and non-featured artists when their sound recordings are performed on cable, Internet (non-interactive streaming) and satellite radio.

 

SoundExchange is an independent nonprofit performance rights organization that currently represents over 800 record companies, their 3000+ labels and thousands of artists united in receiving a fair price for the licensing of their music in a new digital world. Members include both signed and unsigned recording artists and small, medium and large independent record companies, as well as the major label groups and artist-owned labels. For membership information and a step-by-step guide on how to join, please go to http://soundexchange.com/

 

Sound Exchange
1330 Connecticut Avenue, Northwest Suite 330
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 828-0120; fax: (202) 833-2141


The ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is the international identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. Each ISRC is a unique and permanent identifier for a specific recording which can be permanently encoded into a product as its digital fingerprint. Encoded ISRC provide the means to automatically identify recordings for royalty payments.

 

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) recommends that all music producers use ISRC. The ISRC system is the key to royalty collection for recordings in the digital information age.

 

ISRC can be put into operation without requiring special investment in equipment or technologies. For further information about the ISRC system, please contact:

 

RIAA
1025 F Street NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 775-0101, Fax: (202) 775-7253
isrc [at] riaa.com
Point of contact: Erik Liederbach

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Trademarks

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is the federal office that grants trademarks (such as to band names, instrument names, company names, etc.). A trademark protects a name, a design or a logo for goods and services.

 

To register a nationwide trademark, download an application from the PTO website at http://uspto.gov. You can also order an application from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by calling (703) 308-9000 or (800) 786-9199. Ask for their brochure entitled, Basic Facts About Registering a Trademark. The brochure includes the application forms and all the necessary information on registering your service mark and/or trademark. The application must include: a drawing of the word or symbol being trademarked; three examples of its use (such as newspaper clippings or a press release); the completed application form; a self-addressed stamped envelope for return receipt of your serial number; and the $375 fee.

 

You can now research whether or not your band/company name is available to be trademarked by accessing TESS, the Trademark Electronic Search System.

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