Why the Poor Man’s Copyright isn’t Enough

A common question that I am asked is, "Does the Poor Man's Copyright provide the author legal protection?" The short answer to that question is always, "No." For those of you who do not know, the Poor Man's Copyright means taking a created work like your original song and mailing it to yourself. It is commonly believed that by mailing the work, the US Postal Service will provide an official date and prove ownership. However, in truth, it is really not that simple. According to US Copyright Law, copyrights are granted automatically the moment when the work is created. So, as it relates to music, the moment the lyrics are written down on paper, the song is recorded on any device or reduced to sheet music, that author has copyrights. Therefore, you can save the postage in preparing your work for the Poor Man's Copyright. The next question is, "Why do I need to register with the US Copyright Office?" To that question my answer is, "Registration has its privileges." Here are the top three reasons why you should register your music with the US Copyright Office.

1. It establishes a public record of your copyright claim to the work.

2. It gives you the right to file a copyright infringement law suit in court.
3. If you are successful in an infringement law suit, you may be entitled to statutory damages of not less than $750 or more than $30,000.00 dollars per infringement. In the case of willful infringement the court can increase the damages to $150,000.00 per infringement.

The bottom line is that filing your work with the US Copyright Office will provide you with the tools you need to PROTECT and DEFEND the work you have created. You never know when God will allow one of your songs to earn a million dollars. Don't you think that's worth a $45 investment? The articles provided by Angela Green, Esq. are for informational purposes only concerning general legal principles. You should consult your legal counsel for answers to specific legal questions.

Angela Green is an entertainment attorney in Memphis, Tennessee and part owner of Key II Entertainment, an artist management company.
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About Airplay 360

AIRPLAY 360 is a monthly published digital magazine designed to inform, empower and motivate independent inspirational musical artists by offering a soundboard of information provided by artists, producers, label executives and other industry professionals.
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