?Copyrighting your artistic works does not have to be as complicated as some people
say it is. You already own the copyright to your works, but you need to collect proof
in case anyone challenges you. This guide will show you how.
First of all, which parts of your work are yours to copyright? Did a friend help you out
with lyrics, or have you sampled part of someone else's song? If so, that's a not a
problem, just make sure that you keep a note of this with your collection of proofs.
Next, you need to work out what pieces of proof you actually have in your possession.
Do you have original computer files for each instrument or track? Do you have any
handwritten notes for lyrics, or scratched-out, dirty and used scraps of sheet music? If
you have any of these then great! You have a fantastic piece of evidence that shows
the story of how your creative work developed.
But all's not lost if you only have the finished product. Even if you have the full story,
how can you prove that you came up with the idea first? It might sound tricky, but it's
a problem that can be solved.
Let's take the example of an MP3 file of your work. You have created this from your
system of choice, be it Logic, Cubase or Garageband. Did you know that an MP3 file
contains so-called metadata? This is information embedded in the file so that music
players such as iTunes know what track name and artist to list when displaying the
MP3 file. Well, there are lots of other metadata fields that you can edit, including one
for who the copyright belongs to.
When you edit the copyright field, you must be as specific as possible. For example,
my name is Thomas Buck, and there are a surprising number of people out there with
the very same name as me. To fix this, I not only put my name in the copyright field,
but also my physical address and email address. That way, the Thomas Buck in the
copyright field is actually me.
There's one final step: proving that you were first. You should use a copyright service
that uses trusted timestamps. This is a secure method of proving that a computer file
existed at a given date and date. You could either create a timestamp for each of your
files, or instead create a zip archive containing all of your files and simply timestamp
This gives you final and complete proof: not only do you have the story of how your
work was created, you also have proof with your distinct name and details in it, and
you have proof that all of this existed first.