Sweetwater, TN asked in Copyright for Tennessee

Q: copyright a song - to record the song on a cassette, mail it to yourself, make sure it's never opened or seal broken.

will this stand up in court if proof of ownership is ever challenged.

state: TN

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1 Lawyer Answer

Mark A. Baker

Answered
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Tallahassee, FL
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: You have described a "poor man's copyright." It's worth about as much as the piece of paper it's written on, but not after you add postage. Under U.S. law, a copyright comes into existence the moment the original idea is "fixed in a tangible medium" - when you record the original song on a cassette tape, you have fixed it in a tangible medium. However, under U.S. law, the only way to enforce the copyright is through the federal courts, and that requires registration of the copyright with the Copyright Office. So why not spend the $55 filing fee (for which you may register as many tracks as you please, provided they have common authorship) and have the peace of mind that you can deal with any infringement through the courts. By the way - if you wait to register until after you learn of an infringement, you may be giving up important rights to claim certain damages.

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