Copyright Office Sings a Different Tune

Are you a musical artist looking to protect your work? If you’ve ever sought copyright protection of your songs before 2021, you may remember feeling the burn of paying to register each song individually. However, there was news early last year from the Copyright Office which can help ease the financial burden of protecting your work and enforcing the rights to your music. Enter: the GRAM (Group Registration for an Album of Music) Copyright Application.  

This post continues the thread of my recent post about empowering artists to know what they can achieve in pursuing their rights as artists by applying for their own copyright registrations when appropriate. In addition to registering a single artistic piece (like one song), copyright holders can also register up to twenty songs from the same album of music under the new GRAM Application.  

In order to qualify for the GRAM, the Copyright Office lays out a few pieces that must be in place:  

  • There must be 2-20 songs on the album submitted, with track name and number listed for each song. If there are more than 20 songs on the album, they must be split across multiple GRAM Applications with separate fees charged.  
  • These works must have been published (distributed/released) on the same album at the same time, in the same country of origin.  
  • All works must have the same author, or one common author across all works, and a common copyright claimant or owner of rights to the music.  

The Copyright Office reminds artists to distinguish between “Musical Compositions” (a song as written, music and lyrics) and “Sound Recordings” (the actual recordings of the tracks). They give the example of the famous song “Respect”, with music and lyrics written by Otis Redding as a Musical Composition, while “Respect” as recorded by Otis Redding, as well as by Aretha Franklin, and by The Supremes and The Temptations are all separately registered Sound Recordings of that song. If an artist wants to gain copyright protection for both the compositions for the album and the subsequent recording of the songs on it, they must submit a GRAM Application for each set separately.  

More information from the Copyright Office can be found here. Feel free to ask OG+S for assistance or advising in securing copyright protection for your work. Thanks for reading.