Filing a copyright is easy if you know what you are doing. Registration is accessible online via the United States Copyright Office, and currently the online filing fee is $35.00 USD for most works. For an introductory level discussion on this matter, there are two primary ways you can register: as a bulk compilation or as an individual work of art. There are benefits and limitations to both.
Imagine you are a band that has recorded 10 new songs, or an artist who has painted 10 new paintings. The copyright office allows you to bulk-file all 10 of these new works of art in one filing, paying a one time $35.00 fee. The benefit of this registration is that it is cheap, and will provide federal protection. This means if someone copies your work, you can bring a copyright infringement action and receive an assortment of powerful remedies from lost profits to statutory damages. However, the bad news is, you can only receive a remedy based on 1 copyright registration and not 10. This is the trade off. While cheaper, you receive less potential monetary compensation and bargaining power if someone violates your copyright by filing in bulk. Compared to individual registrations, the opposite is true. It will cost $350.00 in filing fees ($35.00 times 10) to register each track individually online (which also takes 10 times the amount of time), but in the event of a copyright infringement down the road, you could bring a copyright infringement action with 10 counts and be afforded greater relief in the event of a legal victory.
A second major consideration is the concept of ownership. When you fill out the registration form, you must specify every author of the work. For a compilation filing, the percentages of ownership must be equal for every work filed. This is not a big deal for the painter who has painted 10 works all by himself, but this becomes a significant legal issue for the band where every band member may have written varying percentages of each musical work. If the band cannot agree on a single set percentage across the board for the ownership percentages of all their songs (which is likely), the band may be forced to register each song individually, thus being a more significant upfront cost.
In the end, any type of registration will give increased protection to your work of art, but it is important to think about how much is that protection worth to you when deciding what type of copyright to file.
Bradley Legal Group, P.A. are Intellectual Property lawyers, Entertainment lawyers and Music lawyers servicing clients in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Nashville. We also affiliate with entertainment lawyers licensed in New York and Washington, D.C. © 2012 Bradley Legal Group, P.A