Useful Facts About Copyright

Poor Man's Copyright:

The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself in a sealed envelope or package is often referred to as a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the text of international copyright law that recognises this as a reliable alternative to registration. Therefore the process of placing reliance on the “poor man’s copyright” is not a viable substitute for registration.

Who is responsible for copyright?

Many people believe copyright and intellectual property rights are somehow monitored or policed by the “state”. This is usually untrue. It is entirely in the hands of the copyright / intellectual property rights owners to make sure their interests and rights are protected. The law only provides the necessary apparatus, but it is the copyright owner’s responsibility to use that apparatus. Copyright registration of any piece of original work reinforces proof of copyright ownership.

Who legally owns the copyright?

The general rule is that the author of the work is the first holder of copyright, however, if the work is made by an employee in the course of employment then the employer (not the author) is the first owner of copyright, unless there is an agreement to the contrary between the employer and the employee.

Shared ownership:

Where two or more have created a work protected by copyright and their contributions cannot be distinguished, those people are joint authors and the copyright is shared. Examples include; where one person has written the music and another person has written the lyrics or shared writing a complete song even if the split is not 50 - 50; The law says that two people, the producer and principal director, are joint authors of a film.

Selling or transferring copyright rights:

Copyright is a form of property which, like physical property, can be bought or sold, inherited, licensed or otherwise transferred, wholly or in part. Accordingly, some or all of the rights may subsequently belong to someone other than the first owner and may be shared.  In contrast, the moral rights accorded to authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and film directors remain with the author or director or pass to his or her heirs on death.

What can be copyrighted:

Literary works, musical works, and dramatic works. Most digital media, including email, music, web pages, and graphics are also protected by copyright. Realistically, one should accept that anything someone has created and has taken the trouble to put into a tangible form is copyrighted and thus protected.

What cannot be copyright registered:

  • Ideas are not protected by copyright. Copyright does extend to the form of expression used by an author in conveying or explaining his or her ideas but does not extend to the ideas themselves which become public property the moment they are disclosed.
  • In order to be eligible for protection under the Copyright Act, a work must contain a minimal amount of original creative authorship, be it in the literary, musical or artistic fields. Slogans, short phrases and names do not usually meet this requirement and are generally not protected under copyright legislation.
  • A title is used to identify a work and is not usually, in itself, protected by copyright. Names, words, symbols or designs used in association with or to identify, goods or services are eligible for protection under the Trade-marks Act.

The Copyright Act

  • The Copyright Act defines a musical work as any work of music or musical composition with or without words and includes compilations thereof. Lyrics without music are protected by copyright as a literary work.
  • When a song is recorded on a tape, record or compact disc, it is automatically protected by copyright as a “sound recording” which is defined as a recording, fixed in any material form, consisting of sounds.
  • Copyright registration will ensure the original songwriters, creators, authors etc. are accurately accredited as the copyright owners and effectively retain full control of the registered copyright that relates to their creative work.


The information that you disclose to Songrite Copyright Registration Office as a member or a postal client, is stored on our servers in a password-protected, personal account. To ensure maximum security, we use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology and data encryption software, to provide secure communication over the Internet. The SSL is engaged during any interaction in which you enter personal information. All information is stored behind a secure computer firewall, a barrier that prevents outsiders from accessing our servers. Privacy:

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The information contained within this site is offered as a consideration to visitors and at no time should the information be construed as legal advice; for all legal matters, we encourage our clients to seek the assistance of an attorney. The Copyright Office is not responsible for policing, or checking on registered works and their use, and cannot guarantee that the legitimacy of ownership or originality in a work registered by Songrite will never be questioned.

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