Songwriter Resources
Cosmic Debris Issue 30 - Edited from June 96
Copyright by Monte Nordstrom

        As promised in last month's column here are some concepts & contacts for those of you out there who have completed songs & want to protect or register them so you can move on to the next stage feeling confident in your ownership. First of all I advise you not to sign away your publishing rights without researching the offer thoroughly. Your song could be tied up indefinitely by someone "banking" a repertoire. This person may not get around to promoting your material so always make sure you can nullify the contract if there is no action after a predetermined period of time. There are also "Co-Publishing" agreements where you can retain a share of your publishing pie. If you are in a position to sign a serious publishing deal there are copyright lawyers who you can engage to protect your interests.

What is Copyright?

        The simple act of writing an original lyric or melody gives you authorship or copyright regarding that composition. No one else can use your creation without your permission. There are
"performing" rights & "reproduction" rights. The first provides compensation for performance of copyright material in concert or on radio / television. The 2nd regards "mechanical rights (audio
reproduction) & also pertains to synchronization rights (audio/visual reproduction). The performance rights are assigned to a society such as SOCAN who will collect & dispense royalties to the composers & their publishers. For a detailed information package regarding publishing, copyright & performance rights organizations contact: SOCAN @ (604) 669-5569.
        For US copyright information contact:
Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. USA. 20559 (ask for "Form SR") Regarding a US copyright there is a fee per song for registration. You can also register several pieces as a "work" & save some bucks. (Hint: copyright an album as a "work")

Note: These are formalities of registration. You already own your copyright. If you merely wish to protect your authorship you can record a version of your piece & mail it to yourself (with a copy
of the lyric marked with your name as author, next to the capital "P" in a circle symbol). Include a lead sheet if you want. Make it a registered letter which you keep unopened & on file. In the
event of a perceived copyright infringement turn over your copy to your solicitor. For the most part song theft is not a great problem if you use common sense & make informed choices.


        (& my review of Music West '96. It'll be the last time I mention it this year, honest!)
Note: Monte Nordstrom has authored or co-authored some 150 songs since he started writing in 1969. He joined BMI with his 1974 Columbia of Canada release "Ptarmigan", which was produced by Paul Horn & published by Horn's "Samadhi Music". He is associated with the performance rights organization, SOCAN & formed his publishing company, "Northstream Music" in 1980. He has produced 70 demos & has recorded 6 albums to date.
Note: Author, Monte Nordstrom has recorded 8 albums to date (Nov '99). He performs regularly at numerous venues on Canada's West Coast.
Email Monte at: or

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