Copyright services legit?

Copyright matters affecting music and musicians.
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Pete
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Copyright services legit?

Post by Pete » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:42 pm

I noticed a couple of sites offering copyright registration services.

https://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/register/

http://www.copyright.co.uk/

Does registering music tracks with them actually give you any legal proof of copyright?

My reason for asking is that up until now all my tracks have been published on CD or music libraries so I have not need to worry, but I want to now upload some work in progress to Youtube and wonder about the best way to protect those tracks (I doubt merely uploading and publishing on Youtube with a copyright notice would be enough, but maybe it is????
Thanks

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AndyJ
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Re: Copyright services legit?

Post by AndyJ » Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:23 pm

Hi Pete,

These services are obviously commercial ventures and are not, as far as I am aware, operating illegally in any way. However what they offer has only limited evidential value when it comes to proving ownership. At best they can provide proof that a particular work existed at a specific date and so in that respect can help challenge claims of infringement which occur after the date of registration.

The main weakness in this sort of registration is that anyone can submit a work which they claim to have authored, and the companies take such submissions at face value. This is in contrast to most jurisdictions where a state-run registration service exists (USA, India etc), where official registration is prima facie evidence of copyright ownership (see for instance § 410(c) of the US Copyright Act).

An equally effective way of establishing that a work existed at a particular point in time is to put a copy of the work in a well-sealed envelope and post it back to yourself and retain the proof of posting as well as the unopened envelope bearing the date of posting. The envelope should only be opened when it is necessary to prove that the work existed at a particular date, for instance in litigation, when it should be done in the presence of witnesses who can attest to the unopened state of the envelope and that the contents accord with the claim. As for establishing that you are the author of a work, the best approach is to arrange for affadavits (formal sworn statements) to be made by anyone who witnessed the creation of the work or who can reasonably state that they know that you created the work. If there are any preparatory drafts, recordings, sketches or data files of the work, these should also be stored carefully as corroboration of your claim. Resist the temptation to go back and add a date to an old document as this could amount to forgery and would undermine your claim if discovered later.

Putting a copyright notice on your work helps prevent others from claiming that they didn't realise copyright applied to it but it is not a legal requirement or of any great evidential value about copyright ownership, since in theory, anyone could add a notice to any work they find.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

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CopyrightAid
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Re: Copyright services legit?

Post by CopyrightAid » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:56 pm

The main weakness in this sort of registration is that anyone can submit a work which they claim to have authored, and the companies take such submissions at face value. This is in contrast to most jurisdictions where a state-run registration service exists (USA, India etc), where official registration is prima facie evidence of copyright ownership (see for instance § 410(c) of the US Copyright Act).
Surely a state facllty has the same issue - i.e. anyone can submit a work which they claim to have authored to a state facility.
An equally effective way of establishing that a work existed at a particular point in time is to put a copy of the work in a well-sealed envelope and post it back to yourself and retain the proof of posting as well as the unopened envelope bearing the date of posting. The envelope should only be opened when it is necessary to prove that the work existed at a particular date, for instance in litigation, when it should be done in the presence of witnesses who can attest to the unopened state of the envelope and that the contents accord with the claim. As for establishing that you are the author of a work, the best approach is to arrange for affadavits (formal sworn statements) to be made by anyone who witnessed the creation of the work or who can reasonably state that they know that you created the work. If there are any preparatory drafts, recordings, sketches or data files of the work, these should also be stored carefully as corroboration of your claim. Resist the temptation to go back and add a date to an old document as this could amount to forgery and would undermine your claim if discovered later.
I think a registration company does have an advantage over the 'post it to yourself' option. As they are storing it for you, they represent independent (that is to say independent to you) evidence that the content was in your possession at that date.

Posting to yourself, also know as "poor man's copyright", seems to be widely scorned by many (just did a Google search). If you have an old envelope lying around, it is pretty easy to put something in it today, seal it, and claim you posted it to yourself on the postmark date, so having some independent source of evidence certainly trumps that. I have loads of old envelopes with documents in from various companies, etc. in my filing cabinet so faking would be easy for me.

As Andy says these companies seem legitimate. What they do is simply witness the date and content of your work; which in my view is better than doing nothing or posting to yourself, but you need to make your own decision whether that has a value to you greater than whatever fee they are charging for their services.

I agree with your point about affidavits, but that only helps if there is someone who can swear that they witnessed your creation of the work and can remember what the work consisted of - I don't think even my closest friends know what I am working on most of the time so I for one would be stuck. Having a work independently witnessed by one of these companies is certainly better than doing nothing or simply posting to yourself if you have no other means to establish evidence of your claim on the work.

The point about keeping preparatory drafts, etc. is a good one. This shows evidence of the evolution of the work over time. When I write code, I use a version control system that tracks the changes to code over time; which is a good thing to have as there is a clear record of the changes and evolution of projects over time.
Not sure if that would appropriate to you, but the version control system I use is called 'git' if you want to investigate that option.

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AndyJ
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Re: Copyright services legit?

Post by AndyJ » Wed Jan 10, 2018 5:32 pm

CA's other points are well made and it is very much up to you to decide whether these services represent value for money.
However,
CopyrightAid wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:56 pm
Surely a state facllty has the same issue - i.e. anyone can submit a work which they claim to have authored to a state facility.
That is perfectly true, hence the reason I included the link to the actual US law. The point is that any form of official (government) registration usually includes the risk of being prosecuted for making a false statement (for instance, see section 5 of the Perjury Act 1911), something that does not, under normal circumstances, apply to ordinary commercial dealings.

Incidentally, when writing my first reply to this thread, I forgot to mention that there is a very useful analysis of this subject elsewhere on this website.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007

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