Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Murfreesboro, TN
Re: Song Copyrights
You can copyright anything through the Library of Congress. It costs $35 to do it online, and $45 if you send in a paper copy. Just make sure you send it in certified mail so you have a record that it got where it was going as the date it was received is the date the official copyright goes into affect.
If you don't file it with the LOC, then you can only sue for actual damages done by someone else recording or performing your material. If you do file it then there are statutory damages and various options for calculating the damages.
In the end, it is hard to prove that there were any damages done by some unknown, unsigned, band singing a song in public. Now if they are recording, getting signed, touring, and making serious money for someone (label) then you can get something out of it. However, the label will most likely have a clause that they are responsible for their own legal problems resulting from improperly used materials.
File the material with the LOC. Then call them up and say hey guys, if you want to use my material, I will license it to you for a small fee. That way, they are able to use the song, you make money, everyone is happy. If they don't want to pay then they need to completely change the music to the piece and make it original.