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Recently, there has been some confusion over which copyright application to use when registering a single-authored musical work: the Single Application (with a $45 fee) or the Standard Application ($65).

Upon review of the criteria, we have noted that eligibility for the Single Application requires the following:

  • The registration must cover one work; 
  • The work must be created by one individual;  
  • All of the material contained within the work must be created by the same individual;  
  • The author and owner of the work must be the same person, and that person must own all of the rights in the work;
  • The work cannot be a work that was made for hire.

We have received confirmation from the U.S. Copyright Office that musicals are deemed to be ineligible for the Single Application because they do not fulfill the first requirement. Specifically, for a registration to “cover one work,” that one work can only contain one type of authorship; a musical, however, contains both text and music, and so it is deemed ineligible for the discounted process.

Therefore, if you are the sole author of a musical’s book, music, and lyrics, you are advised to use the Standard Application—not the Single Application— just as you would with a multi-authored work. Under some circumstances, you may be able to use the group registration option for unpublished works, which, at the time of this writing, allows registration of up to ten unpublished works for a single fee ($85). Note, however, that registering your copyright is fact specific, so you are encouraged to discuss the matter with your counsel, or to contact the U.S. Copyright Office.

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