Copyright is in essence a simple concept. If you create something, you are the owner of that something, and you’re the only one that has a right to make copies of it.

For example, if you write a story, you can print out as many copies as you want, sell them, give them away, or burn them to heat your house. It’s up to you. No one else can do this unless you give them permission, and you have every right to charge money for that privilege.

In music, the same is true. If you write a song, you’re the only person who has a right to reproduce it. That could mean writing the melody in sheet music and printing that, it could mean printing out lyrics with chords, or it could mean recording the song and making copies on vinyl records. This also includes digital reproduction rights, like mp3 files or, you guessed it, YouTube videos.

This copyright is granted automatically, and you don’t have to register your work with the copyright office for it to be in place, although it can be a good idea.

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