This is the part where the teacher is talking and your eyes begin to slowly glaze over, completely out of your control. This is the part that no longer discusses the highs and lows of the Rock & Roll lifestyle, but instead we are forced to dig into the boring stuff. The law, the verbiage, the headaches, the copyrighting...
What is intellectual property anyway? The dictionary defines it as "a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.". If we take that into consideration, where does a copyright work itself in?
To copyright something is to "have exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same".
If we break it down in the simplest terms, copyright is ownership. Once the author and/or creator of the material has claimed ownership, hopefully rightfully so, then they now own the ability to do anything that they like with it, as long as it's within the law. Most importantly, this protects others from using that which you have created.
In particular, songwriters must make a sincere attempt to halt future problems that they could run into - when submitting their songs, be it to labels, producers, artists or other songwriters. Unfortunately, with intellectual property, it's become quite easy for those with malicious intentions to attempt to recreate one's intangible creation - due to technology - it's quite easy to do so and your ideas could accidentally leave you in the dust.
The downside of this type of situation would be that not only does the creator not gain notoriety for the beautiful song that they've written, but they lose out on the financial gains as well as the control of what their intentions are with the song. For example, perhaps a die-hard anti-commercialized musician never copyrighted his one hit song and it ended up as the soundtrack on his least favorite material item. It's not the end of the world but it could have been avoided!
If you copyright first, with a little bit of patience and a small investment (we heard that it's as low as $55 to copyright a song), you can save yourself headaches down the road. If you're planning on making a career out of this, you may as well get your hands dirty in the ever-so-boring legal aspects of the music industry and just copyright it all! It's a small price to pay in the long run.
- K. O'Neil, Pitstop Musicians