This post covers the basics of how to copyright beats as outlined in the below video by DJ Pain 1.
Should you copyright your music? Do you have rights to our music without a formal copyright? What happens if your music gets infringed on?
First up, copyright law is insane. If there’s anything you don’t understand, please do your own independent research and arm yourself with knowledge because it’s crazy in the music industry. We’re not experts and the only reliable sources for copyright information are lawyers and the U.S. Copyright Office.
That being said Pain 1 starts off by clearing up two copyright myths…
You don’t copyright beats through publishing rights organizations like ASCAP or BMI. They handle publishing (hence “publishing rights organizations”), not copyright!
The only way is to use the copyright office. You can go through a lawyer but they are just intermediary and deal with the copyright office themselves.
If you never register a song, do you have a copyright claim?
Actually yes, you have an original copyright – you are still the copyright owner of the song. Say you send a beat to an artist, they record a song and upload it to youTube. You can file a DMCA (Digital Music Copyrigh Act) claim against them and get the song removed. If the artist doesn’t take any action, you can up the ante and send cease and detist letter.
Now: Say an artist stole your beat and blows up on the internet, making money off it. What now? You probably want to sue them for profits, but you can’t do that without formally registering! So the law says: Well, the beat is totally yours, but if you want sue them for profits, you have to register it through us. It gets even more annoying though…
If you registered your work BEFORE someone uses it without your permission, you’re good: you can sue for your damages, their profits and you will be reimbursed for own legal fees. If you registered your work AFTER someone uses it without your permission, you can still sue for damages and profits, but not for legal fee reimbursements. Now the problem is that these fees often are massive, so its not worth suing someone in the first place really.
DJ Pain 1 compares copyright is like catastrophic health insurance. Most probably you won’t use it, but if disaster strikes – aka someone stealing your beat and making millions off it – you’re covered. The reality is that artists that steal beats, make a few bucks here and there – so just file a DMCA claim and get it removed.
Again – we’re not experts and the only reliable sources for copyright info are lawyers and the U.S. Copyright Office.