You may be wondering - what exactly is a sound recording copyright ? A good description can be found in the US Copyright Office Circular 56: Copyright Registration for Sound Recordings .
So, once I’ve finished recording, mixing, and mastering my version of Canon de Noel (see the previous post) to a digital audio file, I am the copyright owner for this sound recording. I don’t need to register the sound recording with the US Copyright Office in order for me to have the protections that this copyright affords. These rights already exist. ( But I do need to place a Copyright Notice on the work.) Formally registering the copyright, however, does give some legal advantages if ever there was litigation for infringement on the copyright. So it is a matter of course that professional musicians and recording studios do formally register their works.
Just for my education, I wanted to explore the process of registering my sound recording with the US Copyright Office. The process begins with opening an online account with the US Copyright Office at https://eco.copyright.gov :
Submitting an application for registering a sound recording copyright is pretty straightforward, and not too expensive. The three steps are:
Once the application is submitted (and the fee paid), the US Copyright Office processes your copyright registration. Provided your submission meets the requirements needed to obtain a sound recording copyright, the Copyright Office will issue a Certificate of Registration:
I received this certificate in the postal mail about three months after the application was submitted. I understand that 3-4 months is an average amount of time for the US Copyright Office to process a case.
The Copyright Notice to affix to the work consists of:
· the ℗ symbol (phonorecord copyright);
· the year of first publication of the sound recording;
· an identification of the owner of the copyright, either by name, abbreviation or other designation by which it is generally known.
This copyright notice is printed on the webpage from which the Canon de Noel audio file can be downloaded:
The copyright notice is also embedded in the metadata of the .m4a audio file:
For the Canon de Noel and the two other pieces on the Christmas album, I distribute these recordings via download from the Pedal Point Sound website. For most of my other recordings, however, I distribute them from a music hosting platform, using Creative Commons licensing to make them freely available to listeners. I’ll discuss music hosting platforms in my next post.