BUYER BEWARE: “Is this legit?” – Lawyers’ Responses…
We got this question from a COMBO member, asking “Is this legit?” We checked with our lawyers and here are their responses:
RE: Songuard.™: It is a timestamp. It is not a copyright nor is it copyright protection.
From Todd Myers: Definitely not. Song needs to be properly registered with the copyright office.
Todd A. Myers, Esq.
225 Union Blvd Ste 150
Lakewood, CO, 80228-1826
Entertainment, Litigation, Mediation, Insurance
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From Dave Ratner: “[R]egistering a song or material with Songuard™ cannot be construed as a formal copyright… the only purpose of registering a song or material with Songuard™ is to establish a submission date and the content of what was submitted. It does not provide the statutory protections that come with a US Copyright registration. In the event of a copyright dispute, when requested, Songuard™ will send certified copies of the registered song or songs to whomever the customer and submitter designates, or if directed, to the appropriate Court of Record. Songuard™ does not guarantee that the documentation provided will be considered evidence by a court of law.” (Emphasis added.)
Dave Ratner, Esq.
Creative Law Network, LLC
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From Stan Soocher: As an educational comment, it is correct that a copyright exists from the time sufficiently expressive content is set in a tangible form.
In the U.S., copyrights are formally registered in the Copyright Office. It is this registration certificate that courts recognize as “prima facie” evidence of copyright ownership.
Stan Soocher, Esq.
Professor of Music & Entertainment Industry Studies
University of Colorado, Denver Campus
Campus Box 162, P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364
E-mail: [email protected]
Editor-in-Chief, Entertainment Law & Finance
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From Scott Fitzke: Songuard is merely a service that will, for $3.95, help the artist prove that a creative work was created and put into a tangible format. It does not actually register the work with the US copyright office. Under the common law, a work is automatically copyrighted upon creation, put into tangible form, and published to another party. Songuard only documents that fact.
Common law copyright protection is good, but there are many added benefits to registering works with the US copyright office. First, you get the benefit of all of the federal laws protecting copyrights, and the federal remedies for infringement, which include attorney fees and statutory damages. Those are not available under the common law. If a work is not registered, under the common law, the artist has to prove actual damages for infringement, and cannot recover attorney fees in an infringement action. The remedies if you register with the copyright office are much stronger and provide a means for an attorney to justify filing a case where actual damages are hard to prove. Further, if you register, the work is searchable on the USPTO website. People who want to use an artist’s work can easily find it and make contact with the artist to use the work. Songuard does not offer those benefits.
The copyright office allows artists to register all of the songs on an album for one fee if there are not multiple authors. It is pretty cheap insurance.
R. Scott Fitzke
Shortridge, Fitzke & Hultquist, PC
4 Inverness Court East, Suite 100
Englewood, CO 80112
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Songuard gives you copyright protection for only $3.95
When you post your song on the internet or send it out to artists, producers, publishers, and labels, millions of people have access to it. If that song is not copyrighted or protected in some way, you are at great risk that someone may take your melodic and lyrical ideas and treat them as their own. If that happens and your song is not protected, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
You automatically have a copyright the date you create a song and put it into a physical tangible form. The purpose of filing for a US Copyright is to prove and verify that date of creation. A US Copyright costs $37 for one writer and $55 for two or more writers. This year, it goes up to $55 for one writer and $75 for two or more. That’s pretty expensive for most songwriters.
Registering your song with Songuard will give you the same proof and verification of the date of creation as a US Copyright and it only costs $3.95. Too good to be true? Go to songuard.com and look under FAQ/Terms and you will understand why we can make this claim.
● You upload the melody, lyric and writer information.
● Your submission receives a date and time stamp along with an encrypted digital signature.
● You will receive an email confirming that your song was registered.
● Your submission will be permanently stored on our secure servers.
● Your song is now protected and your submission can be used to prove date of creation.
● Songuard does not review the content that is registered.
From Songuard’s FAQs/Terms page:
For more extensive and comprehensive information on copyrights go to https://www.copyright.gov/ and under copyright law review the Chapters and Appendices.
We do recommend that songwriters, at some point in time, register their songs with the US Copyright Office. The reason being, a US Copyright gives you certain statutory advantages such as damages and injunctive relief if an infringement lawsuit is filed. It is important that you file with the US Copyright Office before you instigate an infringement lawsuit if you wish to be entitled to the above described statutory advantages. That being said, if you first register your song with Songuard™, this will establish a date of creation which will give you copyright protection quickly and inexpensively. If you want the statutory advantages that come with a US Copyright, you must file with the US Copyright Office. In our opinion, regardless of when you decide to instigate a federal filing, the initial Songuard™ submission will have established and verified a date of creation.
[Editor’s note: I wrote back to the member that she could send us the $3.95 instead and we could do the same thing: Vouch that the song had been sent to us on [date] at [time]. I also told her that still didn’t solve the problem of legally registering her song for copyright.]