authorship protection


Greetings, all! I just joined this exciting group and I am wondering if any of you who share your songs worry about someone stealing your idea, lyric, melody, etc. I don't want to be suspicious but I feel that I need to be responsible about protecting myself and my creations.


People have very different opinions about this. Personally, I release all my songs under a creative commons attribution share-alike (CC BY-SA) license. This means people can do whatever they want with the songs, even commercially, as long as they credit me and distribute their contributions under the same license (ie, if they remix my song it must also be CC BY-SA).

I know other people with a similar approach. If I remember correctly @yam655 uses an even more permissive license on his stuff (CC BY), which doesn't require the contribution to be licensed under creative commons. We clearly fall on one end of the spectrum, and I'm not saying that people should do the same; each person knows that's best for them.

In the US (as far as I know; I'm not a copyright lawyer) everything you make has automatic copyright. I think that publishing your creations helps protect them: if someone violates your copyright you have a way of proving that you are the original creator, by pointing the the website where you published the song. So publishing your songs here on the website might be beneficial.


A little research informed me that lyrics written down by you have an automatic limited copyright as soon as they are written. Legal Zoom states "Your song's music and lyrics are protected by copyright as soon as you record them, even if it's just a rough recording on your cell phone. But to get the full benefit of copyright protection, including the right to sue people for infringing your copyright, you must register it with the U.S. Copyright Office". Apparently that isn't a difficult process but it does cost $115 a pop! I am interested in how the CC By-SA license is obtained.


@beingherenow, the Creative Commons website has all the information regarding those types of licenses:

As I understand it, you simply state which of the Creative Commons licenses you wish to apply to a work in the posting & metadata for the file. A link to the Creative Commons website is often good practice as it has the "legalese" version of the license so there is no misunderstandings. As for ©Copyright, yes there is an entire registration process one must do for each piece, with a registration fee (as you have noted), if you'd like to sue people who infringe on your creative works. Otherwise, simply putting ©Copyright usually suffices to indicate to others not to steal the work. Though, as you point out, without the official registration, this probably won't stand up in court.

Again, as I understand things…

See You In The Shadows…


Back when I used to officially copyright my lyrics, you could copyright as many as you wanted and pay just one fee per application, whether it was one lyric or dozens of them. I think I copyrighted 30 or so one time for a single fee. Can't remember how much it was, but maybe $50?


Yeah, I'm pretty sure there's a FAWMer who essentially publishes a book of lyrics for every 100 or so lyrics. The Copyright office really prefers to be given physical material, which makes bundling up lyrics in to a book even more cost effective.

I'm strictly CC-BY, so as long as I'm attributed as the lyric author, I'm good.

Why do I do this? Because, as far as the music industry goes, I'm unknown and poor.

A permissive copyright allows other artists to easily pick up my songs and put them on their albums and I can become more well known.

The fact that it is so stupidly simple (and completely free) to comply with the license means that it is actually easier to legally comply with the license than to try to steal the song. I mentioned I'm poor as far as the music industry goes, right? Traditional copyright gives you the right to sue when others steal your song. That's all it gives you. If the person you're trying to sue has more money for better lawyers, though, you may not come out ahead even if judgement is in your favor. (Provided you can even last long enough to get to even get to a judgement.)

Cory Doctorow has an article called "Think Like a Dandelion" that is relevant to this discussion: He writes books and releases them with creative commons licenses.


That's a really excellent article, @yam655.
It's really hard for most of us to change our basic way of thinking and to step off of the Capitalist treadmill.
Thanks for sharing that.


Copyright vests as soon as you create it, and your rights are not limited in any way other than the normal limitations on these what I once heard in law school, but that was a long time ago, so what do I know...evidence is key when suing, the fellow said, and I believe him...but that was a long time ago, so I would ask a real lawyer... 😀 Geez, I wish someone would steal one of my songs and make a boatload, I know a good lawyer already. 😄


CC BY-SA confuses me. Won’t it make people shy away from your music? Imagine a movie producer would like to use one of your songs in their soundtrack. Only they can’t without releasing the movie under the same free licence. Which probably won’t happen, because it would allow free copying, distributing, and showing/streaming of the movie. Won’t they then rather use a song with regular copyright that they have to pay for?


@florianhoffmann they always have the option of reaching out to the author and paying to license the song with a different license.


NOW I am seeing this question - went back to find it, & I could not get there from here! I have a friend who sends her poetry out to various friends & acquaintances, always with a copyright notice on it. Since poetry I have published was always in periodicals that stated "All rights to the work herein are owned by the individual authors", I had never worried about this. When I put work on here, I had already looked at & commented on a variety of works, & noticed people doing it in different ways. I opted for adding at the end a ©(followed by my name) to satisfy the need for that, just in case. I think once there it evidence with a verifiable time of when you put it out there, that may take care of it anyway. I am a fan of people owning the work they have done...someday I'll tell that story.


I think it was Picasso who said, "Good artists copy, great artists STEAL."

As an old folkie, I have a hard time getting worked up over someone swiping my words and/or melodies. It's all part of the folk process; you build on what has gone before, and provide for those who come after. When I happen to think about it, i'll license material as Creative Commons BY-NC-SA, but have put at least one song expressly into the public domain.

Performances are another matter, and when I get around to doing some I'll think harder about them. But all that said, I do try to respect other people's copyrights. It's the fair and honest thing to do.