A Word About Copyright and Publishing Before Sharing Songs and Music Compositions
This forum is dedicated to the education of copyright and publishing protection for songwriters and composers to prevent their creative works from becoming Public Domain, or from being pirated, or misused by persons unauthorized in their use.
As a professional BMI Songwriter and owner of Hall and Shields Publishing, BMI, I am knowledgeable in skill sets of songwriting, composition and educated in Copyright Law and Publishing directives through reputable companies affiliated with BMI - Broadcast Music, Inc, A.S.C.A.P – The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, SESAC - Society of European Stage Authors & Composers and the Library of Congress to safeguard creative works to prevent pirating or misuse of songs and music compositions; the life blood of all who passionately practice these musical crafts.
For over twenty five years I have been teaching music theory, guitar, voice and this craft of songwriting to the budding and professional artists. I have expressed to them the importance of protecting one’s works to prevent their songs from becoming pirated or the property of the public domain. During my earlier years of experience in Nashville, as a fledgling songwriter performing for open mics and other venues to be heard, as I was working to be discovered, I learned the importance of protecting my songs prior to sharing them with the public at large by the stories of accounts told to me, by numerous songwriters and publishing professionals, as to great songs people had written and performed in public without protection in place only to have their hooks stolen, entire song lyrics and melody compositions by unscrupulous songwriters who are on the alert to steal from naïve writers and composers who fail to realize the importance of protecting their works whether songs or music compositions.
Because of my ignorance of proper protection of my songs I learned from my mistakes. In 1991 while performing around Nashville, at open mics for songwriters, one of my songs was pirated, composition as well as my lyrics and was slightly rewritten, then it was copyrighted. As result I lost the ownership of one of my best songs forever to a song shark. I could have raised objections and attempted to bring attention to the theft of my song, though without proper protection in place my argument would have been futile, so in this event I learned a valuable lesson and I vowed this would never happen to me again. That year I joined BMI and I began my study of Copyright, Publishing and Business Law. Nearly twenty years later I have become versed in requirements to properly protect songs and compositions and I teach these necessities to others in my songwriting workshops. I have shared my story with hundreds of songwriters over the years, so they may benefit from my mistake of failing to secure proper copyright and publishing protection.
I want to bring this to the attention of Christian Songwriters to ensure they are aware of the jeopardy of sharing songs in public without having protection in place to guarantee the safety of their songs. There is literally no sense of risking to be pirated of the precious works. Even though we are referring to the Christian music industry there is still the threat of sharks hanging out in our waters seeking their vulnerable prey and like in any industry there are always those who will take advantage of another’s labor in creative enterprises.
I believe as songwriters and composers we should address this matter with all those we are associated with who practice our craft for their ultimate protection; otherwise you do them a great disservice leaving them vulnerable to serpents. Be ye as wise as serpents yet harmless as doves is a good scripture to practice to ensure that all may go well with us in whatever we do that involves anyone else we have interaction with because there is usually a Judas in out midst ready to capitalize on our ignorance if we are unprepared, unprotected, and let them.
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