January 20, 2022

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Copyright Basics

Copyright Basics

Copyright Basics are a subject that all songwriters need to understand. As soon as you have finished a song, you should copyright it as soon as possible. There is an on-line process that is quick and easy, still the complete process takes a good while – so the sooner you take care of it, the better off you will be.  Without copyright protection, your song is not legally safe from others stealing your ideas (which happens more than you know).

The process you should use is on line using this link – you will be required to set up an account.

Copyright Online Registration Website – Click Here! 

You will be able to pay the fee, upload your MP3, and get an automatic receipt that you in fact have started the “registration” process for your song.  Although this is not the actual copyright, it does give verification that your song registration has started on a certain date – see information / notes regarding the on line system below.

eCO Online System

File a copyright registration for your work through the Copyright Office online system.

Before using the service, we recommend you first read eCO Acceptable File Types, eCO Tips / Tutorial, For Standard Application Tutorial PDF eCO Updates.

Advantages include:

  • Lower filing fee of $35 – $65 for a basic claim (for online filings only)
  • Fastest processing time
  • Online status tracking
  • Secure payment by credit or debit card, electronic check, or Copyright Office deposit account
  • The ability to upload certain categories of deposits directly into eCO as electronic files
  • Available 24 hours a day, except for routine maintenance every Sunday from 12:00 midnight to 6:00 AM Eastern Time

Processing Time: The time the Copyright Office requires to process an application varies, depending on the number of applications the Office is receiving and clearing at the time of submission and the extent of questions associated with the application. Current Processing Times


Here is the main form and instructions that will give you an idea of what it takes to copyright your songs (print them out and read the information before you start the on-line process of actually copyrighting your song):  

Copyright Application Form SR with Instructions


Copyright Application Form PA with Instructions


Below is the information that I found off the Internet a few months back, since I am not really sure where I got it from – most likely off the Library of Congress Website?  I am going to use it until someone tells me to remove it.

copyright basics

Information on Copyright Basics from the Internet!

How exactly to you go about registering your copyrighted songs? Is it even necessary? Here’s a brief explanation of the process and the terms:

  • Copyright protection is acquired automatically when a work is “created”. The definition of “created” is when a work is fixed in a copy or recording for the first time.
  • However, Proof of ownership and copyright is achieved by registration of the copyrighted song. This is done by filing your songs with the U.S. Copyright Office and using either Copyright form PA or form SR. The registration fee for a song is around $35 – $65. You should also send one copy of the unpublished song on a MP3 (uploaded), tape, CD, or lead sheet. If the song has been published, two copies are sent. Registration becomes effective upon receipt of the application form, copies of the song, and the fee.
  • Registration of songs is necessary in order to protect a song from being used without permission. And is necessary to present in a court of law and to sue for copyright infringement. It guarantees legal protection.
  • Copyright forms PA and SR (explained below) can be found in many published books, or may be obtained from the copyright office:

Copyright Office, Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20559
or Download them

Again, once you are finished with your song (or song idea), and you feel it’s a good one, you need to take the time and copyright it ASAP!  You will receive a receipt and proof that you have started the registration process for your song. And once the Library of Congress processes the application (after the online registration has taken place), they will send you confirmation that the song is in fact copy written – this usually takes many months.  You will then need to find a safe place to store the copyright paperwork in case you need it for a lawsuit, future reference, etc. Hopefully this information regarding Copyright Basics has been beneficial to you.