To actually Copyright your ‘IP’ – your ‘Intellectual Property’, whether a song, lyrics, music or even a symphony is really, really simple. You write it down on a sheet of paper. At the bottom of the paper, you write the words ‘Copyright by… ‘ Then, where the three dots are – ‘… ‘ – you write your name, followed by the year. And that’s it – Copyrighted.

But there’s a problem…

Copyrighting a song, lyric or whatever is one thing: actually proving that YOU actually copyrighted the material is another. Or in other words, proving that the material is YOURS.

But there’s a better way now… you PUBLISH it.

Now, bear with me for just a sec here… I’m no lawyer. But one of the big advantages of the Internet is that it makes it pretty easy to educate yourself about a lot of different stuff, like the Law on Copyright. For example, I copyrighted a song a few years back. It was a Country Rock song, and I submitted it to (go figure!) a Country Rock label in the USA.

Very often, songwriters hear nothing more, and that’s what happened to my song. I heard nothing back. Then, by pure chance, I heard a Rap tune on the radio. I’m not a Rap fan, but somehow, part of the lyric sounded familiar: why? Because it was the Chorus from my Country Rock song!

I found out who the artist was, contacted the record company, (which was in Finland!) and to cut a long story short, I received nothing but the runaround. My song had been ripped off. But the plain fact is – it was my own fault. I had no ‘official’ copyright; I was living in the UK and there’s no Copyright Registration Service available; the US Copyright Service was too expensive for me (at $45 per song) and the problem was that I just could not PROVE that I’d written the song when I said I did.

Of course, if it had been a Big, International Nº1, I would’ve done something more about it – but even then, actually proving that the song was mine would’ve been expensive and with no guarantee of success.

The bottom line is this: if you want to Copyright something you’ve created, all you need to do is to say it’s ‘Copyright by… ‘ (you) and the date. Write it on the paper or label a CD or Computer File the same way.

BUT… if there’s a chance of making money from your work, or if there’s a chance that somebody might find your material interesting enough to rip you off, you need to do more than just ‘label’ it.

You can use the US Copyright Service, you can do what’s commonly called ‘Poor Man’s Copyright’ (useless!) and nowadays, there’s a third way too – Publish your Songs on the Internet.

By publishing your stuff online you create a ‘digital paper trail’ (oxymoron of the year, 2009?), a ‘digital fingerprint, if you like, that can track back to your original publication. The absolute best way to ensure that you can prove your songs are yours is to have an Independent, Third Party Witness. Someone who can stand up and say, “Yes, your Honour, I saw that song published where and when claimed… “

The huge increase in Copyright Theft means that there are various ways to publish and copyright your Intellectual Property On-line these days, and savvy Internet users are beginning to see the advantages of this kind of service.

Whichever method you use, make sure that anything you value is correctly published and copyrighted – especially if you submit your work using the ‘net, or post your songs on a social networking site.

And by the way – the universally-recognized Copyright Sign, the little ‘c’ encircled by an ‘O’ – © – means nothing any more despite what you might have read!

Source by Norman MacLeod