Frequently Asked Questions About Copyrights

There is no viable substitute for copyright registration.

“Songrite Copyright Office” service’s are used by both professional and aspiring songwriters / composers to register and securely store copies of their original songs, music and lyrics. Copies of submitted works are kept as legal evidence to prove legitimacy of rightful copyright ownership.

Here is a selection of frequently asked questions

What You Cannot Copyright.

Ideas are not protected by copyright. Copyright does extend to the form of expression used by an author in conveying or explaining his or her ideas but does not extend to the ideas themselves which become public property the moment they are disclosed.

In order to be eligible for protection under the Copyright Act, a work must contain a minimal amount of original creative authorship, be it in the literary, musical or artistic fields. Slogans, short phrases and names do not usually meet this requirement and are generally not protected under copyright legislation.

A title is used to identify a work and is not usually, in itself, protected by copyright.

Names, words, symbols or designs used in association with or to identify, goods or services are eligible for protection under the Trade-marks Act.

Copyright does not protect ideas, or such things as names or titles.

The purpose of copyright is to allow creators to gain economic rewards for their efforts and so encourage future creativity and the development of new material which benefits us all. Copyright material is usually the result of creative skill and/or significant labour and/or investment, and without protection, it would often be very easy for others to exploit material without paying the creator.

Most uses of copyright material therefore require permission from the copyright owner. However there are exceptions to copyright, so that some minor uses may not infringe copyright.

Copyright protection is automatic as soon as there is a record in any form of the material that has been created. However, if a dispute occurs you may have to prove copyright ownership, this is where registration is of vital importance. Creators / authors can take certain steps to help prove that material is theirs but copyright registration is by far the most effective..

Do I Need to Register my Work?

Copyright exists from the moment the work is created and fixed in a tangible form and is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device, for example a recorded work on a vinyl Disk, DVD, CD, Tape, or a copy placed on a computer hard disk or other retrievable media, lyrics or music that are written down or in a manuscript format.

You will have to register, however, if you wish to prove ownership of a song, piece of music or a lyric

What are Song / Lyric copyrights?

Registering the Copyrights of Songs / Lyrical works

A single Song usually contains several copyright categories which cover all aspects of a song; these rights include the following;

  1. The Music / Melody:
  2. The lyrics:
  3. The Arrangements:
  4. The Production:
  5. The Performance:
  6. The Artwork: (On the sleeve or album cover or CD)
  7. The registration of your Band or Stage name is also included

All of these collective copyrights are included and are verified in your registration documents.


Copyright applies to original written works such as poetry, novels, newspaper articles, lyrics for songs, instruction manuals and so on. These are known as literary works.

When referring to copyright, the terms “Literary Work/s” and “Artistic Work/s” are understood to include and encompass all works of authorship and creation regardless of any literary, creative or artistic value.

To satisfy the basic laws and principles of copyright, the method or form of expression must be “original” and or “unique” although the concepts or ideas behind the work/s do not have to be an original creation of the author.

Is my Information Safe?

The Songrite Copyright Office © takes the privacy of your personal information very seriously and will use your information only in accordance with the terms of our Privacy Policy. We will not give away, sell or rent your personally identifiable information to third parties.

Some pages on the The Songrite Copyright Office © website include links to third party websites. These sites are governed by their own privacy statements, and The Songrite Copyright Office © is not responsible for their operations, including but not limited to their information practices. Users submitting information to or through these third party Websites should review the privacy statement of these sites before providing them with personally identifiable information.

What is Copyright Law?
Copyright law provides protection for literary and artistic works, giving authors the ability to control the exploitation of their works. The law of related rights provides similar protection for the creative contributions of those involved in presenting works to the public, such as performers, phonogram producers and broadcasters.

These rights are provided by national laws in individual countries. International treaties serve to forge links among different national laws, ensuring that creators are also protected in another country than their own. The treaties do not overrule national law, but require the countries that join them to grant some specified minimum rights, and to do so on a non-discriminatory basis.

What is Copyright?

Copyright gives the creators of a wide range of material, such as literature, art, music, sound recordings, films and broadcasts. These rights include economic rights which enable the owner to control use of their material in a number of ways, such as by;

  • making copies,
  • issuing copies to the public,
  • performing in public,
  • broadcasting and
  • use on-line.

It also gives moral rights to be identified as the creator of certain kinds of material, and to object to distortion or mutilation of it. (Material protected by copyright is termed a “work”.)

Who Owns the Rights to a Work?
In the case of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, the general rule is that the author, i.e. the person who created the work, is the first owner of the economic rights under copyright. This rule also applies to commissioned works. However, where such a work is made in the course of employment, the employer is the first owner of these rights, unless an agreement to the contrary has been made with the author. In some situations two or more people may be joint authors and/or joint owners of copyright.
  • In the case of a film, the principal director and the film producer are joint authors and first owners of the economic rights, and similar provisions as referred to above apply where the director is employed.
  • In the case of a sound recording the author and first owner of copyright is the record producer; in the case of a broadcast, the broadcaster; and in the case of a published edition, the publisher.

Copyright is, however, a form of property which, like physical property, can be bought or sold, inherited or otherwise transferred, wholly or in part. So, some or all of the economic rights may subsequently belong to someone other than the first owner. In contrast, the moral rights accorded to authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and film directors remain with the author or director or pass to his or her heirs on death.

Copyright in material produced by a Government department belongs to the Crown.  The Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) can provide more information about this.

How Long Does Copyright Last?

United States of America

The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors. To determine the length of copyright protection for a particular work, consult chapter 3 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the United States Code).


For literary, dramatic and musical works that were published during the lifetime of the author, copyright lasts for 70 years from the end of the year in which the author died. For published sound recordings and films, the duration of copyright is 70 years from the end of the year in which the recording or film was published. Where such items remain unpublished, the copyright term may not commence until publication takes place. In contrast, for artistic works, copyright lasts for the life of the artist plus 70 years, and publication status is irrelevant.

The 70 year copyright terms above came into effect on 1 January 2005 when the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) amendments were made to the Copyright Act. The previous terms were generally 50 years and the 2005 changes were not applied retrospectively or to government publications. To calculate the copyright status of older works, find out if the period of copyright protection expired by 1 January 2005. For example, if an author died prior to 1 January 1955, works published during his or her lifetime are now out of copyright because the 50 year period of copyright protection elapsed by 1 January 2005.


Generally, copyright lasts for the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and for 50 years following the end of that calendar year. Therefore, protection will expire on December 31 of the 50th year after the author dies.

  • Performer’s performances: copyright lasts until the end of 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which the performance occurs.  If it is fixed in a sound recording before the copyright expires, the copyright continues for 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which it is first fixed.  If the sound recording is published before the copyright expires, the copyright continues until 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which the first publication occurs or 99 years after the end of the calendar year in which the performance occurs, whichever is earlier.
  • Sound recordings: copyright lasts until 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which the first fixation of the sound recording occurs.  If the sound recording is published before the copyright expires, the copyright continues for 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which the first publication occurs.

United Kingdom and Europe

The term of protection or duration of copyright varies depending on the type of copyright work. For copyright works originating outside the UK or another country of the European Economic Area (EEA), the term of protection may also be shorter if it is shorter in the country of origin. There may also be variations in the term where a work was created before 1 January 1996.

But in general, the terms of protection in the UK are as follows:

  • Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work lasts for the life of the author and 70 years from the end of the year in which he/she died.
  • Copyright in a film expires 70 years after the end of the year in which the death occurs of the last to survive of the principal director, the authors of the screenplay and dialogue, and the composer of any music specially created for the film.
  • Copyright in a sound recording expires 50 years from the end of the year in which it was made or, if published in this time, 50 years from the end of the year of publication.  If not published during that 50 year period, but it is played in public or communicated to the public during that period, 50 years from the first of these to happen.
  • Copyright in a broadcast expires 50 years from the end of the year of making of the broadcast.
  • Copyright in a published edition expires 25 years from the end of the year in which the edition was first published.

The above terms of protection were introduced or confirmed on 1 January 1996 when copyright terms throughout the EEA were harmonised. The above terms now apply to many works created before this date – further details of how the new copyright terms apply to such works are available on our extended/revived copyright page.

The term of protection is particularly complicated for photographs taken before 1 January 1996.

Joint Authorship

In the case of a work that has more than one author, the term will last for the remainder of the calendar year in which the last author dies and for the number of “Country Specified years” after that.

What can I Copyright?

Literary works, musical works, and dramatic works. Most digital media, including email, music, web pages, and graphics are also protected by copyright. Realistically, one should accept that anything someone has created and has taken the trouble to put into a tangible form is copyrighted and thus protected.

When Will I Receive my Documents?
When you have submitted your work and a reviewer has contacted you and you are satisfied with the information presented to you, you then pay the registration fee. You should expect to receive your registration documents within ten to fourteen days.
Registering the Copyrights of Songs, Lyrics and Music for Songwriters, Authors and Composers.

The Songrite Copyright Office safeguards and endorses copyrights through copyright registration, The registration service offers a high level of protection which is achieved by permitting copyright owners anywhere in the world the right to deposit copies of their work as legal evidence to support claims of ownership.

Membership of “COGS” is required to gain access to our online up-load facility. Membership is totally free, without any obligations or commitments and you can cancel your membership at any time.

Songrite Copyright Office allows COGS Members to upload and deposit copies of their work to our secure servers as legal evidence, and helps prove copyright ownership in case of infringement, plagiarism or other copyright disputes. We maintain a high standard of security for all submitted works.

Submitting songs, music and lyrics for copyright registration via regular mail is an option available to members and none members.

Protection against unauthorised use in another country

Basically this depends on the national laws of that country. However, most countries offer protection to foreign works under certain conditions that have been greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions. There are two principal international copyright conventions, the Berne Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) More than 170 countries are signatories to the Berne treaty and will acknowledge and honour copyrights from another country

Copyright Forms

Copyright forms are available for use with regular mail submissions. We use forms for complete songs / music and lyrical works only.

There are three categories which are;

CR3-a = Single song or one set of song lyrics
CR3-m = 2 or 3 songs or sets of song lyrics
CR3X = From 4 to 14 songs or sets of song lyrics
Songrite Copyright Registration Office -copyrighting songs, music and lyrics.
International Copyright Registration Service.