U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress


Circular 56a

Copyright Registration of Musical Compositions and Sound Recordings

This circular explains the difference, for copyright purposes,between MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS and SOUNDRECORDINGS.

A Musical Composition consists of music, including anyaccompanying words, and is normally registered in ClassPA. The author of a musical composition is generally thecomposer, and the lyricist, if any. A musical compositionmay be in the form of a notated copy (for example, sheetmusic) or in the form of a phonorecord (for example, cassettetape, LP, or CD). Sending a musical composition in theform of a phonorecord does not necessarily mean thatthere is a claim to copyright in the sound recording.

A Sound Recording results from the fixation of a seriesof musical, spoken, or other sounds and is always registeredin Class SR. The author of a sound recording is theperformer(s) whose performance is fixed, or the record producerwho processes the sounds and fixes them in the finalrecording, or both.

Copyright in a sound recording is not the same as, or asubstitute for, copyright in the underlying musical composition.

REGISTRATION OF A MUSICAL COMPOSITIONAND A SOUND RECORDING WITH A SINGLEAPPLICATION
Although they are separate works, a musical compositionand a sound recording may be registered together on asingle application if ownership of the copyrights in both isexactly the same. To register a single claim in both works,complete Form SR. Give information about the author(s) ofboth the musical composition and the sound recording.

NOTE: Phonorecords (tapes, cassette tapes, cartridges,disks) are not sound recordings.
Phonorecords are physical objects in which variouskinds of works can be fixed—the works themselvesmay be musical compositions, literary works, dramaticworks, or sound recordings.

What is being Registered: Form
to
use
How to describe
“Nature of Authorship”
in space 2:

What should be deposited

Published
in the
United States*

Unpublished

1. Song or
other
musical
composition

PA Music and
Words
OR
Music
2 complete copies
(if published in a
notated copy
OR
1 phonorecord
(if published only
on a disk or
cassette.)
1 complete copy
(lead sheet, etc.) or phonorecord
(disk or cassette.)
2. Sound
Recording
only
SR Sound
Recording
2 complete
phonorecords
1 complete
phonorecords
3. Musical
Compostion
and Sound
Recording
SR Music and
Sound
Recording
OR
Music,Words,
and Sound
Recording
2 complete
phonorecords
1 complete
phonorecords
Note: To make a single registration, copyright ownership in the musical composition and in the sound recording must be the same

* For foreign publications, 1 copy or phonorecord of either the first publishededition or the best edition.

REGISTRATION PROCEDURES
To register your work, send the following material in thesame envelope or package to
Register of CopyrightsCopyright OfficeLibrary of CongressWashington, D.C. 20559-6000:
1. A properly completed application form;

2. A nonreturnable, clearly labeled deposit(s) of the workto be registered; and

3. A nonrefundable filing fee of $20 for each application.

EFFECTIVE DATE OF REGISTRATION
Please note that a copyright registration is effectiveon the date of receipt in the Copyright Office of all therequired elements in acceptable form, regardless of thelength of time it takes thereafter to process the applicationand mail the certificate of registration. The length of timerequired by the Copyright Office to process an applicationvaries depending on the number of claims received and thepersonnel available.

If you are filing an application for copyright registration inthe Copyright Office, you will not receive an acknowledgementthat your application has been received (the Officereceives more than 600,000 applications annually), but youcan expect:

* A letter or telephone call from a copyright examiner iffurther information is needed;* A certificate of registration to indicate the work has beenregistered, or if the application cannot be accepted, aletter explaining why registration has been refused.You may not receive either of these until 120 days havepassed.

If you want to know when the Copyright Office receivesyour material, you should mail it registered or certified andrequest a return receipt.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information, write or call the Copyright Officeand request: Circular 50, “Copyright Registration for MusicalCompositions,” which includes information on Form PAand/or Circular 56, “Copyright for Sound Recordings,” whichincludes information on Form SR.Additional questions about copyright problems involvingmusical compositions or sound recordings may be addressedto:Copyright OfficeLM-455Library of CongressWashington, D.C. 20559-6000.To speak with a Copyright Information Specialist, call(202) 707-3000 between 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Eastern Time,Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. TTY:(202) 707-6737. Messages may be left on the TTY line 24hours a day. Calls are returned between 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.,Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

FORMS AND CIRCULARS HOTLINE

NOTE: You may order application forms and circulars24 hours a day by calling the Copyright Office FormsHotline at (202) 707-9100. TTY: (202) 707-6737. Messagesmay be left on the Hotline and the TTY line 24hours a day. TTY calls are returned between 8:30a.m.-5 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday,except Federal holidays. Orders will be filled as quicklyas possible.

Revised March 1994


 

Copyright Office * Library of Congress * Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

 

***4/14/98*** 

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