Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Copyright: the right to copy.
When the word copyright popped up in the random word generator today I raised my imaginary hand in my little invisible class, mumbling under my breath, ““Ooo, ooo! I know this one, I know this one!” Mind you this imaginary class is on the level of taking snack and recess breaks and as opposed corporate lunch breaks, but I am somewhat familiar with copyright as a writer and publisher. I discussed this topic briefly last month with a group of songwriting students in the basement auditorium of the Bountiful Davis Arts Center.

“Your song,” I said, “is copyrighted the minute you create it. It is simply not registered until you do the paperwork with the Office of Copyrights.” If its not registered people may assume its public domain, meaning it is free to copy by members of the general public without obligation to get license or to pay for use.

“Oh,” they responded, “so have you registered all your songs with the Copyright Office? Isn’t that kind of expensive? I mean, how many songs do you have?”

How to answer that and appear responsible and authoritative?

“Welllllll,” I shifted my weight back and forth, “I have registered my albums. And if I am not the publisher, my publishers have registered others I’ve written, since I share the copyright with them. But I look at it this way for many of my tunes: If my work is so good someone would consider stealing it, then I am pretty darn happy!”

Of course I don’t mean to be flippant and irresponsible. If I sense I’ve written a hit song, I am going to register the copyright for sure. I just haven’t felt that way very often.

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

It’s really good to know the most important things do not require licenses for us to copy them. Things like my mom’s recipes. My daughter’s wry wit. My husband’s dependability and my son’s inherent interest in other people. My brother’s ability to twist words in witty ways. My neighbor’s graciousness. Sisters’ undying interest and skill with wordless conversation. None of them even think of wanting a copyright, or patent. That’s a good thing!

The very, very best of life is free to copy. Seriously, the maker of the world Himself laid his life in an open book; a step by step tutorial on how to live. He sealed it with His own blood and delivered it to every single one of us. No license required. No payment. He doesn’t even require the tender wages of love. Anyone can copy for any reason at all. We don’t even have to love Him.

I’m quite certain, however, regardless of whether we believe Him or whether we receive Him; He is going to love us.

Note: It is always safest and most responsible for songwriters to register their completed pieces with the US Copyright Office. I am a right brained optimist and some things I do are really NOT worth imitating! You can register a compilation of songs for a reasonable rate. Visit for more info.


  1. i think we should copyright your blog!

  2. I would say that all that you write is worth expresses for the rest of us what we are unable to express for ourselves. You are an amazing wordsmith and we are the grateful recipients of your talents. Thank you Cori...keep on writing!!

  3. Intellectual property - when people steal it, there's a terrible sting. I have found fan fiction based on my books and characters, only the characters say bad words and do bad things, which is the exact opposite of what they were born to do, and so I grow fangs and frighten thirteen year olds with threats of prison, and some of it goes away. Wish I didn't have to do that. Wish the world were different. But then, bet the Lord says that every so often himself.