Musical compositions or songs can be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Under 35 U.S.C. 102 (a) (2) musical works, including accompanying works may be registered for copyright protection. However, as soon as the work is fixed (sheet music, written lyrics, video, cd or dvd format) the work is entitled to copyright protection.
Registering provides the following: 1) benefit of notice to others of your registration; 2) the right to sue in Federal Court under the U.S. Copyright Act; 3) statutory damages; and 4) attorney’s fees for an infringement law suit. The key to properly registering a musical work is to comply with the deposit requirement. The U.S. Copyright Office will utilize the “best edition” of the musical composition for registration purposes.
The “best edition” for printed copies is determined based on the following: 1) fullness of score ( including vocal music, orchestral accompaniment, instrumental music, etc…); 2) printing and paper; and 3) binding and packaging (special editions, bound rather than unbound, protective folders, etc…).
The “best edition” for phonorecords is determined based on the following: 1) cd rather than vinyl; 2) vinyl rather than tape; 3) special enclosures; 4) open reel rather than cartridge; 4) cartridge rather than cassette; etc… The deposit requirement is key to determining the copyrighted material and the scope of the registered copyright.
See Attached Publication from the U.S. Copyright Office: Musical Works Brochure
If you have any questions relating to registering your musical works, then please feel free to contact us.