What is the procedure in order for me to reserve all copyrights of my songs? Is there an authority I need approval from? Is it something that I can do myself?

  • Put a version on Youtube or similar. – user40233 May 11 '17 at 9:07
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    I agree with the answers below that you don't need to do anything to get your work protected by copyright. However, enforcing your copyrights is another matter entirely. Copyrights allow you to sue others for unauthorized distribution/rearrangement/plagiarism/etc. of your works, but, in practice, it does not prevent others from publicly distributing/rearranging/plagiarizing/etc. your works. – Dekkadeci May 11 '17 at 12:20
  • Legal questions are off topic. – Dom May 11 '17 at 13:36
  • @papakias no because legal advice is not on topic there either. Law.SE does have questions like this. Why don't you search there real quick if your question is answered and if not I can try and migrate. – Dom May 11 '17 at 14:16

Do nothing. Your work is protected automatically, as ensured by (most notably) the Berne Convention, which is ratified almost everywhere in the world. Registering your work at a copyright office, mailing it to yourself in a sealed envelope, and marking it with 'All rights reserved' etc. are not requirements.

Only if you want to relinquish some of your exclusive rights, do you need to take action.

  • 'relinquish some of your exclusive rights' ? – papakias May 11 '17 at 11:25
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    There are licenses like Creative Commons where you allow others to freely rearrange/perform/redistribute/etc. your works, possibly with other restrictions such as forcing their derivative works to be distributed for free. These licenses declare that you have "relinquished those exclusive rights". – Dekkadeci May 11 '17 at 12:05

Something simple and inexpensive is to put a recording and the music into a registered / recorded delivery envelope, and post it to yourself. Then you will always have proof of when that song was born. Anyone plagiarising it at a later date can be shown proof that the song existed long before they 'wrote' it. Cheap and cheerful, as opposed to obtaining official copyright, I think.

  • I've heard of that method but isn't it easy to fake this? Also now with digital recordings, don't the files have a 'created' date? – papakias May 11 '17 at 8:09
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    This is always an odd one - strictly, the copyright exists the moment you write it; nothing further required. Even if you belong to a Rights organisation, they don't have any record [pardon the pun] of what the 'song' is, only its title & author[s]. Posting it to yourself, has always been the accepted method of 'proof', though I've never heard of one case where that proof was later used in court. – Tetsujin May 11 '17 at 8:10
  • Send yourself a few unsealed envelopes today, in case you'll need to fake some copyright claims in the fuyure. – Laurence Payne May 11 '17 at 8:20
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    The allegedly accepted method was to have the Post Office date-stamp the seal, though I'm not sure the entire construct isn't just 'made up by people without publishing deals/PRS membership'. – Tetsujin May 11 '17 at 8:44
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    This is called "Poor man's copyright". With all legal issues, it depends on your locale. But in the US it's kind of a myth. It's repeated by a lot of people but there's no precedent for it ever holding up and enforcing a copyright in court. For anybody that is in the US, you should instead check out copyright.gov. – user37496 May 11 '17 at 10:30

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