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Songwriters and Copyright

1. How can BMI help me?

2. How does my song become copyrighted?

3. Can I register more than one work at one time for one fee?

4. Must I still put a copyright notice on published copies of my song?

5. How long does a copyright run?

6. If I collaborate with one or more writers, how is the term of copyright measured?

7. If someone hires me to write a song for them, who owns the copyright and how long does it run?

8. Are song titles copyrightable?

9. If I have works in my desk drawer that have never been published or registered with the Copyright Office, are they still protected by “common-law” copyright?

10. If I assign my copyright in a song to a publisher, can I ever get it back?

11. How is the copyright assigned?

12. Does the copyright in a record protect the copyright in the song, too?

13. What is the difference between a performing right and a mechanical right?

14. When is a mechanical license required to be issued?

15. What are the current statutory royalties for making and distributing phonorecords and permanent downloads and ringtones (“mechanical” royalties)?

16. I have songs that were in their first term of copyright under the old copyright law. Do I have to do anything in order to get the additional 47 years of protection provided by the current Copyright Act?

17. One of my songs fell into the public domain because it wasn’t renewed on time. Can copyright protection for it ever be revived?

18. I have works that are already in their renewal term. Do I have to do anything to get the extra 39 years of protection the law provides?

19. I assigned the renewal rights in my song to a publisher when I first wrote it and the publisher renewed it for me. Was that valid?

20. I assigned my copyright to a publisher under a contract that did not mention the renewal term specifically. Did he get it anyway?

21. I signed a songwriter agreement with a publisher some time ago giving him the right to my copyright renewal term, among other things. Since the law would have given me 39 extra years of copyright if I had kept the renewal term, can I get back those 39 years from my publisher?

22. How many bars of a song can I copy without permission?

23. I assigned my copyright to a publishing company who never acquired a recording of my song. I would like to get it back and assign it to another, more active publisher or obtain a recording myself. However, I cannot locate the original publisher, who has gone out of business. Can I go ahead and re-assign the copyright?

24. What are the penalties for an infringement of copyright?

25. Where can I find out more information about copyright?