copyright advice

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by henryjurstin13, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. I need help in figuring out what to do... I want to copyright a name, because I thought of it & want to protect it. My band, performs regularly & when we promote - we use a name for the productions.. I have looked at the .gov pages & it just confuses me, because I don't know if I am registering a visual logo, or a company name, or what..... I need help - if anyone has any experience with this type of thing -- PLEASE HELP.

  2. In the mean time, you could do a poor man's copyright. Put whatever you want copyrighted in a sealed envelope, take it to the post office, and mail it to yourself. The post office stamp or whatnot is an official government seal, so it should copyright it. Don't ever open the envelope though, unless you really really have to. Maybe mail two copies to yourself.
  3. Eli M.

    Eli M. Life's like a movie, write your own ending

    Jul 24, 2004
    New York, NY
    You don't copyright a name, you trademark it.
  4. Pick up "All You Need to Know About the Music Business" by Donald Passman. You can probably find it at any large bookstore. It outlines copyrights very closely, as well as anything else you may be wondering. Passman pretty much leaves no stone unturned.
  5. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Maybe go consult a music lawyer
  6. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    If there is a screw up you'll be dealing with lawyers. Best to start with one and get it right.
  7. Music Attorney

    Music Attorney

    Feb 22, 2004
    You cannot copyright a name. You can trademark one. A trademark is “any word, name, symbol or device or any combination thereof adopted and used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify his goods and distinguish them from those made or sold by others.” In addition, you will want to think about a service mark which is defined as “a mark used in the sale or advertising of services to identify the services of one person and distinguishing them from the services of others.” Bands ,artists, etc. usually sell both goods and services so looking into protection for both is a good idea.

    In the U.S., the mere first and continuous use of a trademark, which is not an infringing mark, can give rise to a common-law trademark which gives that user certain exclusive rights to the trademark. So then why pay a lawyer, filing fees, etc. to obtain a Federal registration? Glad you asked. First, the protection afforded a common-law trademark is limited to the geographical area within which it has actually been used (as opposed to throughout the U.S.). Second, a federally registered trademark generally allows for much quicker enforcement of rights and more damages. Finally, if you follow all the steps, you will ultimately have an unassailable and conclusive claim to the exclusive right in your mark.

    Okay, that’s fine, but how does this play out in the real world? Let’s say band A uses one name in Los Angeles and band B uses the same OR CONFUSINGLY SIMILAR name in New York. Band B signs to Sony/BMG in New York, spends 12 months recording an album, marketing plans are created, album is released, band goes on national tour (including Los Angeles), etc. only to get a nasty letter from band A’s lawyer saying you can’t tour in Los Angeles under that name. Ouch! Without going in to all the legal details, band A may be in a great position to extract considerable financial concessions from band B. Oh wait! The record company will just pay these people to go away, right? Perhaps and problem solved except for the fact that the record company is using your money (i.e., making the costs of this problem an advance recoupable from the band’s account). You would be astounded how often this and similar types of band name issues arise because nobody bothered to check and/or register.

    Still want to do this yourself? If so, have you thought about and would you know if the name you are considering is “confusingly similar” to another name? Have you thought about whether the name may have some negative meaning in a foreign language or culture? Do you know which class of trademarks and service marks you’ll want and/or need?

    Unpersuaded? Have at it. I’d start by contacting the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, Box 9, Washington, D.C. 20231, or call (703) 557-3158, and request that they send you pre-printed applications for trademark and service mark registration by an individual, firm, or corporation, whichever is appropriate in your case. The USPTO will, upon request, supply you with information pamphlets.

    For those of you suggesting henryjurstin13 get a lawyer, please stop. If these kinds of things are done right, there's a lot less work out there for us lawyers ;-)


    PS - I agree that Passman's book is a "must read" but I'm not sure it's all that useful in connection with trademark issues
  8. WOW!! great answer... thanks!
  9. +1

    As always, an informative and definitive post by Mr Music Attorney.

    Why would someone suggest that henryjurstin13 get a lawyer when he's got one on TB that doesn't charge (yet!)

  10. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    this is a must for anyone who wants to be in the music business! It will change your life! :smug: