Just the other day I was having an interesting chat with somebody about protecting your Copyright in your own music. I was really surprised to hear that they had been told by a copyright advisor (sent free by their local authority) to do something that I thought would have been obsolete advice years ago. They advised to post a copy of their own music on CD via recorded delivery to themselves and then keep it safe without opening it.
I was aware of this practice, however, I thought there would be new ways of proving ownership of copyright with digital and online technologies. For those who don’t know, I will just explain the point of the posting practice.
The idea is to post a sealed copy of your work to yourself to prove that you own the copyright. This is proved by date of the postal mark and you keep it un-opened unless you need to prove, in court, that you created the content first. Obviously, any fraudulent user will not have proof of ownership from an earlier date than you.
I remember doing this many years ago and unfortunately when the envelope arrived the date was actually ineligible. Fortunately, I had the foresight to include a page from a daily newspaper in the package.
Anyway back to my point, I did not think this advice was still be going around and surely it makes more sense nowadays is to e-mail it to yourself using a free e-mail account. When something is sent using an online e-mail account it is automatically stamped with the date and time that it was e-mailed. I would of thought that this would be sufficient evidence and just as valid as using the Postal Service. To be honest I think it would be easier to forge the date on an envelope than it would be to forge the date in an e-mail account hosted by Yahoo or Hotmail. I guess the only thing you would have to watch is that the account doesn’t go dormant as the free ones do when you don’t use them for a period of time.
Another thought of mine is to use these file transfer sites that allow you permanent storage of files. You could basically upload your content and the upload process would time and date stamp it.
If I was trying to protect my own Copyright in this day and age I would probably put my music in a zip file along with a scanned image from the front page of a daily newspaper including the date, the headline and lead story.
Whichever way is best to do it, it still boils down to the same conclusion. If somebody tries to steal your Copyrighted music you need to take legal action and go to court if needed. This should be done as a matter of principle or if the fraudulent use is making money from the material to claim some of the revenue. In any case your evidence will be the fact that you can illustrate ownership at a time before the fraudulent user can.
Anyway, at this point I should make it absolutely clear that this is just my considered opinion and I am not a music lawyer or copyright attorney.