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Saturday Side Hustle: How to Apply for Your Copyright; Composition vs. Recording

Continuing on from last week, pseudonyms are fun! If you have a boring name like Scott Lloyd, you might want to come up with one. When you apply to register your copyright, you will also be asked if you wish to limit your claim, but we can save that discussion for later. Let’s assume you wrote a song and are registering that song in its entirety as an original work. If you have a personal representative or someone who will manage your copyright, you can name that person as well. Lastly, you will be asked if there are any special handling requirements and to certify your application.

Once you review and complete your application, you will need to submit your work. Most commonly, these days, an audio file such as an MP3 may be uploaded along with your application for copyright registration. Finally, and of course, you must then pay the government its fee for the privilege of your U.S. Copyright registration. Fees are published here, in case you want to be prepared in advance.

So now that you’ve gone through the application process, what did you get? The answer: You officially put the public on notice of your copyright in your original work, whether it’s your composition, a sound recording of it, or both. We’ve been focusing on the composition, but what about the sound recording? Why would one register either copyright or both?

Something to consider is whether your sound recording is one you envision as being ready for publication or distribution or whether it is merely a commemoration of your original creation. If you are thinking big for yourself, maybe you want to record your early recording of your song in anticipation of your public wanting to hear it after you become famous and then die of a drug overdose. Not to be morose, but I got ahold of some recordings Jimi Hendrix apparently did in his apartment circa 1967 a while ago, totally raw! I think they’re out there now.

However, you may just want to register your composition and wait until later to register a sound recording that is closer to revenue-generating. Let’s talk about that. Most artists in the early stages are more concerned with composing than recording, as there are professionals out there known as producers who make a living producing top-quality sound recordings. Many artists will leave it to them to produce registration-worthy sound recordings initially, then may advance later to producing their own sound recordings. So what happens when you have a copyright in a composition and hire a producer – or have your composition produced by someone working for a record label, for example – to produce a marketable sound recording?

Well, now you have a partner in crime. When I sit there and sing a song in my house with my guitar, I don’t have a sound recording. When a producer mics me up and runs my guitar and voice into his DAW, the producer has created the sound recording!


For more information on this topic, please contact Scott Lloyd at


ABOUT SCOTT LLOYD | 301.575.0357

Scott Lloyd is a registered patent attorney who specializes in intellectual property counseling and commercialization work. He has served as a technology commercialization specialist and advisor to companies in a diverse array of markets, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food and beverage, specialty chemicals, technology, and engineering. In addition, Mr. Lloyd spent ten years as in-house general counsel to small and mid-sized companies, where he managed corporate matters and resolved commercial disputes in addition to intellectual property strategy, and now serves in the same capacity for entrepreneurial clients. He serves as counsel to small and mid-sized business owners seeking to implement growth strategies and succession plans.

While in house, Mr. Lloyd has also contributed to the successful formation of international affiliates of domestic businesses as well as a $400,000,000 business acquisition.




Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 17 offices and nearly 250 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit


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