I know this isn't a fun issue to discuss and it's not something you're going to enjoy, but it's a serious thing you need to be prepared for!
Whether you are musically gifted or just a beginner it's necessary you copyright your music. Even if your music isn't top of the line quality, and you ponder it's not worth the effort I'm sorry to tell you, you're completely wrong. It's not hard to copyright something, it's simple and without a copyright your music could be stolen and used for multiple purposes without your credit. This column will guide you through copyright laws and help you make sure your music stays yours!
Before I continue, it's granted you know what a copyright is. Basically, a copyright is the legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work. Copyright protects creative and artistic works by the "author that can be shown or heard. This means if I am a painter, I need a painting to prove I did it. A musician such as yourself must write lyrics down on paper or record your music to tape, CD, or any other device that can record and reproduce audio.
In your given case, your copyright is based fundamentally on the musical part of a copyright. The form of your copyright must be recorded or written down. An idea for a song is not protected. If a band has an original song and plays it live without writing the music down on paper or recording it, is not protected by law, since they cannot prove with hard evidence they are the authors. Ideas and concepts are not protected by Copyright law. Always write your ideas down on paper or record them by any means to protect yourself.
True Fact! I'm commonly told by people they don't copyright their work because it requires a registration. In order to copyright something, you don't need a copyright registration! I recommend one definitely, though you don't need one. Simply format your copyright in a fashionable order such as title; copyright; latest year copyrighted. An example:
Copyright Your Music! 2005
My column has now been copyrighted. You cannot distribute my column without my given permission. It's legally mine. I copyrighted it and own it. Don't be fooled by the business world, they will follow through in a law suit based upon lack of a copyright. Just because you created it doesn't make it yours. It's a sad thought, but it's easy to make it right!
You can get a registration for a copyright and it's overall more efficient but don't get me wrong here, once you've written down your music or recorded your material you are officially protected. Filling for copy write registration takes this one step further. Filling your material with copyright registration entitles the availability to statutory damages and any fees that occur from the lawyers of this world that are waiting to add that new addition to their home. Without registration of an official nature, the cost to sue another party for infringing on your material would probably cost more than awarded damages. Proving you're the author of origin is one thing, paying to do it is another. This doesn't mean you have to register, but if your material will be available to the public in mass, than it's a good idea to at least think about filing with a copyright firm.
The important fact as stated before is that your rights occur when you provided means of your material. Rights do not occur simply by filing for registration. If copyright registration appeals to you please visit Copyright.gov and register, it's simple and you could be preventing some serious issues.
I don't want to provoke ideas but to be honest the business world or even you; a fellow guitarist could steal from other musician if their music isn't copyrighted. Riffs, solo, lyrics, choreography, artwork you name it, chances are it's possible to steal and distribute. One thing you must recognize and remember as an artist is that in order to copyright your specific music whether you are a guitarist or bassist is to record your part of your bands song separately, if you're a guitarist or bassist without a band or recording alone, it's perfectly fine. The lyrics of the song can be, if written down on paper, and can be considered as a poem. A song writer can copyright their music and lyrics, and the sound recording of the music performed by someone else can be copy written apart from the written music and lyrics.
Before I conclude this column I must add this. It's quite possible many of you may be getting ripped off and stolen from as we speak and guess what? You know absolutely nothing about it! It's completely true the things people will do. Right now at this exact time, it's quite possible someone could be sending your music out to their buddies' claming it's theirs or stealing your lyrics for their project. It's sad but true it honestly does happen. If you've posted your music or uploaded it anywhere it could be in use of someone else. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings!
Please take note I am not a lawyer, nor do I have professional law experience however I guarantee all the information mentioned above is completely true based on my research and recent findings. I'm merely a simple musician and I've been down through the copyright path many times and it's only fair you become aware of what's going on as well. I encourage you all to copyright your music or any work you do in the future, it's not for me. It's helping you!