copyright - the legislation, the options, how and when to register
rhyme schemes - list of the names and types of rhyme
song check list - A list of questions to ask yourself to help you decide whether you have written a classic song.
Chord Map in the key of C - Copied, with permission from Steve Mugglin's wonderful site "Music Theory for Songwriters."
10 song writing blunders - a comparison between classic songs & indie/demo recordings - kindly supplied by Roedy Black.
36 rules for bands - a light-hearted look at things to avoid.
Publishing basics - kindly supplied by Irene Jackson
How good your demo should be? - including tips on marketing
A songwriters collaboration agreement - for those that think they need one.
How to make a $million from your music - the secret information they don't want you to know.
How to make a $million from your music Part II - A list of some of the more dubious ways to part a musician and songwriter from their hard-earned cash.
How to make a $million from your music Part III (UK-version) - a light-hearted look at some of the advice available (for a price) on the net.
including for wordsmiths, music makers, general song writing groups, songwriter web rings and fellow song writers with helpful tips/links
including for singing, piano, guitar, drums, harp, ear training and on line music stores.
including software, home recording advice, singer/song writer services, preparing for the studio, recording studios.
including loops, sf2, royalty free
Including critique boards, promotion and critique boards
including band registration sites, lyric sites, further link sites, genre specific sites, humour, and miscellaneous links
internet radio, magazines.
Copyright and royalty collection agencies, song writer and musician organisations, legal advice sites, including a separate UK listing for the same
Where a copyright is claimed be sure to ask the copyright holder, other than that, you are welcome to use any other page for your own site, please let me know so I can add a link to you.
Richhoncho's Songwriters Links
Firstly, what we are talking about is copyright, a copyright is defined in my dictionary as "exclusive right given by law for a term of years to author, designer, songwriter etc or his assignee (i.e. publisher) to make copies or give performances of his original work." What the rest of this discusses are the ways to to protect yourself if someone infringes that copyright. If you came here looking for "copywrite" you're in the wrong place.
Disclaimer : I am not a lawyer, nor an expert on international copyright law, nor am I claiming to be, so although every care and caution has been taken to put this page together it is strongly recommended that you use other sources to clarify and confirm to your own satisfaction before acting on anything contained in this document. No responsibility will be admitted in any event.
International copyright law is derived from an international treaty, commonly known as "The Berne Treaty" There have, over the years, been many myths surrounding the various parts of copyright and some of them are covered very nicely by Templetons. You need acrobat reader for international copyright issues.
If you are worried about somebody "stealing" your unreleased song you will need to prove three things in court, namely
ACCESS. This is the first thing to consider. Can you prove that somebody has heard your song? There is no offence committed if any similarity is coincidental. So what you need to do is to keep a record of who has heard the song, when they heard the song, where they heard the song. If you can't prove access you won't win any court case. So, keeping a paper and/or electronic trail will improve your chance of winning a legal action. There is an interesting article on creating a paper trail from Wallace Collins.
SIMILARITY. This relates to the words and melody only generally speaking, unless the riff/chord sequence is distinctive. It does not relate to the title of the song unless it is utterly distinctive (there's plenty of released songs called "I love You"). It's no good relying on your drummer's opinion, you will need a musicologist or two's opinion to back you up. A musicologist is a talking head musician and not a former member of Talking Heads. The following links explain, quite briefly how complex a subject this is, firstly, probably the most famous plagiarism case of all, George Harrison's My Sweet Lord and then the Repp -v- Webber Phantom Song/Til You . If you still want more information try Columbia University's discussion and questions, which includes a list of cases.
OWNERSHIP. This is probably the least important part of any plagiarism suit, but the most talked about. Different countries have different ways of dealing with it. I will recommend now that you should look to advice from a PRO (Performing Rights Organisation) in your own country to see what they recommend. The United States and United Kingdom are covered briefly below.
Some talk of posting to oneself in a self-sealed envelope (more commonly known as "poor man's copyright"). My colleagues and I have been unable to find a court case revolving around this in the United States, United Kingdom, or Australia. The failings of this system are it is too easy to tamper with. Proof of date and ownership is only the third thing that needs to be proven i.e. if you have proven access (see above) to your song you have probably also proven date of creation and ownership already. By all means post yourself a copy of your works, but if that's all you are relying on you are wasting your time and money.
I shall cover two countries only for this, The United States, which has a government organised copyright office and any everybody in America and possibly anybody dealing with the States should read their FAQ. For the more adventurous readers you can read the whole US Copyright Act. The only further to thing to do is to point you in the right direction for The U.S. Copyright Office Library of Congress. One little tip, you can register a number of songs together as "a folio" rather than registering each song individually. I should also mention that registration at the US Copyright Office has no more legal standing than any other date stamping device it merely allows US resident song writers only to bring an action in their federal court as opposed to a state court. It also entitles them to seek the remedy of punitive damages, that is all. It has been pointed out in Billboard that not all songs in the Billboard top 100 are actually registered at the US Copyright Office, but, I daresay, they all registered with the relevant collection agencies!
American Publishers and Labels could not care less
whether or not you've registered your copyright with the Copyright Office.
Publishers don't care, either.That's *their* job once they've secured a
recording of the song. Publishers
never register copyrights
for songs until they've been recorded, and even then, they often neglect
to take care of this piece of business.
for songs until they've been recorded, and even then, they often neglect to take care of this piece of business.
The United Kingdom, and most other countries, do not have such a government-sponsored copyright office, and, strictly speaking, it is not necessary to have one. However, I note there are firms on the internet who offer short-term protection at rather extortionate rates. One of these doesn't look like it's going to be around long enough to satisfy the 5 years they promise. However, if you still feel you'd like a third party to hold your evidence of creation for you, there are two songwriter organisations who will do this for free - subject to you becoming a member at a reasonable fee. These are Guild of International Songwriters and International Songwriters Association - both have been around a number of years and look like surviving for many more and both offer tips where to pitch, ideas and interviews with songwriters, A&R men etc. For those that like to read the legislation the relevant UK legislation it is called Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 (c. 48)
Further myths. Music
business people don't accept unsolicited material mainly because 1) they
don't have time to listen to everything from everyone who wants to
submit and 2) because they are afraid of frivolous lawsuits from amateur
submit and 2) because they are afraid of frivolous lawsuits from amateur songwriters.
Contrary to some rumours you might have heard, the music business is generally as honest as any other industry, so yes, there are one or two dubious characters, but the rest are fine, upstanding individuals who understand the difference between right and wrong. Make sure you get the right advice at the right time - which means INDEPENDENT advice which can cost money.
There is further information regarding copyright, music contract and a wealth of other information on my links pages relating the legal part at Richhoncho's Legal Page. Alternatively you may prefer to go back to the main index and see if there's something about the creative, recording or promotion of your music that interests you at Richhoncho's Main Index.