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Are song titles copyrighted/ trademarked?

Discussion in 'Legal Issues' started by eruct, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. #1
    I was just wondering if song titles are automatically owned by the band that creates them. I know that there are dozens of song titles out there that are the same, but is there any way to protect them?
    SEMrush
     
    eruct, Nov 30, 2007 IP
    SEMrush
  2. browntwn

    browntwn Illustrious Member

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    #2
    There is no simple yes or no answer, but there are things you can try to do to protect yourself - but often the issue is never settled unless it is actually taken to court.

    There is a lawsuit going on now about this issue. You can read about it here:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/22/chilis_californication_lawsuit/

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers are suing Showtime for using the name "Californication"
     
    browntwn, Nov 30, 2007 IP
  3. AstarothSolutions

    AstarothSolutions Peon

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    #3
    Copyright exists as soon as you create something original and nothing has to be done other than to record it in some method (in your head alone isnt sufficient). The difficulty is proving that you were the first person to create it which is where different services come into play either standalone or using banks/ solicitors.

    "The green hill" is not going to be an original title and so not copyrighted but Californication may well have been unique which is why there is the court case
     
    AstarothSolutions, Nov 30, 2007 IP
  4. Dave Zan

    Dave Zan Well-Known Member

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    #4
    I might be wrong on this, but generally titles aren't given trademark protection
    in the US. But a title could acquire trademark rights if also used in commerce.

    If RHCP or their record producer marketed merchandise bearing Californication,
    they might have a chance. Of course, that's their challenge, much more being
    able to show likelihood of confusion.
     
    Dave Zan, Nov 30, 2007 IP
  5. jmorti

    jmorti Member

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    #5
    What about the lyrics? There are a ton of lyrics sites out there. How do they stay out of trouble? I think its ok to list them on a site, but who knows that actual laws on that?
     
    jmorti, Dec 3, 2007 IP
  6. LeMag

    LeMag Peon

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    #6
    I think you can have a copyright over a song title if it's something origial. If you tale Red Hot's "Californication" for example. It isn't just some word. I think it's something they made up. I doubt you can have a copyright for a song title if it says something like: "i miss you" etc

    i don't know for sure
     
    LeMag, Dec 3, 2007 IP
  7. bluegrass special

    bluegrass special Peon

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    #7
    Song titles cannot be copyrighted. Titles, names, phrases and slogans are not protected in US law under copyright. As Dave pointed out (and others missed) those types of things are protected under trademark law. There is such a thing as common-law trademark, however, unlike copyright it does not attach automatically at the time of creation. It deals with usage.

    Lyric sites do get in trouble. The reasons that there are so many that have been up for a while include:
    - the vast number of lyric sites means they do not all get sued
    - priorities of copyright holders
    - most of the sites are either non-commercial or generate revenue from ads (not the sale of the lyrics) this has led some of the sites and copyright owners to falsely believe this fell under fair-use
    - lawsuits cost money

    Tab sites have been up for years, but nobody really went after them until recently.

    The Chili Peppers did not make up the term Californication.
     
    bluegrass special, Dec 5, 2007 IP