• Once it’s created & fixed in a tangible form (i.e. something you can hold), it is under copyright. However, registering the work(s) with the US Copyright Office gives you an added layer of protection.
  • The life of a copyright in the United States is currently 70 years after the author’s death (life + 70). At this point, the work enters the public domain.
  • Works in the public domain are no longer protected by copyright law, and can be freely exploited without the need for a license.
  • When you write a song, you have a say in who can release it to the public first. This is called the first use clause.
  • When you co-write a song with others, it is in your best interest to complete a split sheet, a form that states who wrote what & who controls what percentage of the song (equaling 100%). Everyone should sign & date it, and everyone should get a copy. This will eliminate split dispute issues down the line.
  • If anyone plays on the record that wasn’t a writer, have them sign a work-for-hire form to prevent future publishing dispute claims.
  • In order to sample or interpolate someone else’s music, you must get permission from the original copyright holders.

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