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How do I Copyright a Piece of Music?

Copyright automatically subsists by virtue of an original work being produced in a tangible/material form (i.e. tape, CD, digital file, manuscript etc.). Importantly, copyright does not exist in ideas, but only in the expression of those ideas in an original way.

There is no legal system in Ireland which allows copyright owners to receive proof of copyright for a work of creativity. If a dispute over ownership of a work arises it is important for the owner to be able to prove that he/she owned the work at a particular date.

The World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) provides ‘WIPO PROOF,’ as an online service that produces tamper-proof evidence which can be used to prove that your digital file existed at a specific point in time. WIPO PROOF uses industry-leading secure technology (SHA-2 cryptographic hash functions) to generate a globally recognised digital fingerprint of your intellectual asset. This is your WIPO PROOF token – a unique fingerprint of your digital file, dated and timestamped the second it is created. You receive your token and another copy is stored securely on WIPO servers in Switzerland. WIPO PROOF is backed by WIPO’s 130 years of experience providing secure, trustworthy IP services worldwide. Importantly, WIPO PROOF provides proof that an individual or company uploaded a file (Mp3, WAVE etc) at a particular time and date. It does not however offer proof that the work in question is an ‘original work’ to which copyright protection is granted. Put simply, if an artist/composer were to infringe another artist’s work (musical creation) and then proceeded to purchase a WIPO PROOF token, this would not grant the infringing party any rights to the infringed work. On the contrary, it might even provide proof of the alleged infringement.

It should be noted that by the process of emailing Mp3 files, uploading Mp3s to Soundcloud, Spotify, commercial aggregators etc, a time stamp is created in each of these instances. Therefore, in court, a composer may adduce evidence based on emails etc, which could prove that they were the first in time to produce the work. The advantage of a system like WIPO PROOF is that WIPO offers an on-line repository whereas there is no guarantee that in 10 or 20 years time artists’ email content or online streaming services will maintain such data, thereby potentially depriving a worthy litigant of their rights where they cannot satisfy their evidential burden. WIPO PROOF tokens cost approximately €20 (or 20 Swiss CHF) each, and a further €20 for a certificate, should you need to defend your copyright in a work. The certificate in many ways acts in much the same way as a legal notary (i.e. document signed by a solicitor or Commissioner of Oaths)



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