Music is eligible for copyright protection under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 as a musical work provided:
1. It is reduced to writing or recorded on tape or in some other tangible form. Ideas for a work are not protected.
2. It is original in the sense that it has not been copied from any other musical work.
The words which are to be spoken or sung with the music are eligible for separate copyright protection as a literary work provided they meet the above criteria. A recording of a musical (and/or literary) work attracts its own copyright protection as a sound recording.
There is no need to register a work in order to secure copyright protection. It merely needs to be in a material form, to be original and to have been created by someone who is either a British Citizen or who is domiciled or resident in the UK or to have been first published in the UK (or another country which has signed the Berne Convention).
It is advisable but not essential to register copyrights in the USA if they are likely to be exploited there. Registration enables one to claim a higher level of damages against anyone infringing copyright in the USA and to recover legal costs. Copyright registration in the USA is formally done with the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Please see our link in the 'Music Industry Links' section.
You should always write the international copyright symbol, the name of the copyright owner (i.e. the composer or any publisher to whom the copyright may have been assigned) and the year in which the work was first published (or writen if not yet published) in a prominent position on the original and every copy of the work. This will put users on notice of the fact that the work may be protected by copyright but it does not confer protection.
By taking one of the following measures you can create and preserve evidence of the fact that your work was in existence at a certain date. This could be very useful if you ever needed to pursue a claim for infringement of copyright as it may help your case if you are able to prove that your work existed before the allegedly infringing work was written. This is only useful for evidential purposes. It will still be necessary to prove that the composer of the offending work heard or had access to your work.
1. Put a copy (on paper or on tape/CD) of the work in an envelope, sign your name across the seal of the envelope and send it to yourself by registered post. Do NOT open the envelope on receipt but store the package in a safe place until such time as you may need it in the course of any legal proceedings. It is wise to note the title of the work on the envelope for your future reference. It is the date stamp coupled with the fact that the package is unopened that constitutes the crucial evidence.
2. Lodge a copy of the work (on paper or on tape/CD) with your bank or solicitor and obtain a dated receipt. You should not have access to the copy for so long as it is lodged.