Ever since the explosion of the internet, personal ownership of created content has been heavily disputed. In an arena where anyone can steal anything at any time, how does a songwriter protect their original content?
Library of Congress
Before diving into copyright protection, remember that you can’t prevent all forms of piracy. It exists and it will happen in some form or another, be it a blatant copy or simply a reimagining of your idea. You can’t fight every battle. You can only be informed and choose the battles worth fighting. In the end, the cases you choose to pursue should be based on your best judgement. A younger kid just getting into online performance probably made a simple mistake. A full company taking your song, however, is far less innocent.
To protect your songs, the best way is through registration with the Library of Congress. While your work is automatically protected in the United States once it exists in a tangible format, the Library produces a public record of it that provides legal advantages should you choose to pursue copyright infringement.
In order to do this, all you need to do is fill out a registration form, submit the correct fee and submit your work. This can all be done either online or through the mail. Once this is received, there is a procedure the Library will go through before accepting your work. First, they process the payment. After that clears, they examine your application to make sure everything is filled out properly. Following this verification, your song is assigned a number and a certificate of registration is mailed to you. Your work is them added to an online, searchable public record.