What Is Copyright?
So what is copyright?
Well if you were to look up the dictionary you would find something like this:
"The exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.: works granted such right by law on or after January 1, 1978, are protected for the lifetime of the author or creator and for a period of 50 years after his or her death. "
Basically think of it like this. When you own a car or a house, how do you demonstrate your ownership? You can't just say you own it, that would cause mayhem!
No, you have to prove you own it with a 'title' or a 'deed'. Well the same rules apply to music, you need to prove your ownership, that is what 'copyright' is.
What Is Copyright & How Does It Work?
The first thing to point out is that when you create anything you automatically own the copyright. So when you strum a few chords together on your guitar and then throw some lyrics down on top with a nice melody, you have just created a song and you are the owner of the copyright.
Being the owner of the copyright protects you and your music from being exploited by someone else. Music copyright law explains this in more detail.
So imagine this. You sent your copyrighted song off to a few publishing houses or record labels, you here nothing back. Then a couple of months later you're driving down the road listening to the radio when you here a song very similar to yours i.e. same tune and lyrics. Well you might have a very good case for "music copyright infringement".
What is copyright infringement I hear you say? Well this is what we call it when someone breaks the copyright law. It can be a very complicated area to deal with in the court room but as long as you legitimately copyrighted your music you should be fine.
Basically at the end of the day the main thing is to make sure you always copyright your music before putting it out into the world. This way you will always be covered and protected from having your music exploited by someone else.