Q: If I post a YouTube video with my own self-made song in it, will third parties be able to infringe copyright?
Basically, I have a short "album" of dingy 1:30 - 3:00 songs that I might want to share with the world via YouTube, but there's the nagging fear in the back of my mind that somebody may be able to use it without my permission. I've discovered that I can order other channels to remove their videos if they were to use my music, but I want to know if that could extend into being able to shut down other third parties from using it (for example, if I were to post a song on my channel and document the date that I first came up with the melody along with the date it was officially made into a real playable song, would someone be able to use that song in their own video game or sell it on other websites without my permission?)
A: Each is own, I usually tell my clients that if they think they have something good, they should pay the minimal fee to get it copyrighted through the United States Copyright Office. Small price to pay and puts one in the best position to enforce and stop infringement. This is not legal advice as is general legal information only. See you at the top! Attorney Steve®
As my colleague Mr. Vondran notes, filing a U.S. copyright application is a relatively inexpensive way to protect your music. More particularly, YouTube's internal strike/take down procedures are only applicable to other YouTube channels. To assert your copyright against infringers on other platforms, you'd need a federal copyright registration, and there are two important timing aspects to consider. First, a copyright application should be filed before you publish the song because it can affect whether statutory damages might be available, and second, a federal copyright registration is required before a lawsuit can be filed against an infringer. See 17 USC 411 and 504.
Whether your music/song is copyrightable is a separate question, although U.S. Copyright law requires only minimal creativity for a work to be registrable. An intellectual property attorney can walk with you through your specific facts and help you determine the best course of action given your circumstances.
Marcos Garciaacosta agrees with this answer
Anything that is public is subject to be stolen and appropriated by others.
IF you do not want somebody to steal something, do not make it public.
If you make it public, protect it with registrations.
Registration gives you rights, does not prevent others from violating those rights. Gives you better arguments to fight infringers.
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