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Can you pursue a copyright lawsuit when your lyrics are stolen?

On Behalf of | May 24, 2023 | Entertainment Law |

In the fast-paced world of music, artists pour their hearts and souls into creating lyrics that resonate with their audience. These lyrical masterpieces often become the backbone of a song, shaping its message and connecting with listeners on a profound level. 

However, what happens when someone steals your lyrics? Can you pursue a copyright lawsuit to protect your creative work? 

You own the rights to your work

Your ownership of the lyrics was automatically conferred when the work is fixed in a tangible form, such as writing down the lyrics or recording them. However, it’s essential to note that merely claiming ownership without any evidence may not hold up in court.

Hopefully, you were proactive about your copyright ownership by registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registered copyright strengthens your legal position by providing a public record of your ownership, making it easier to prove your rights in a dispute.

Pursuing copyright infringement takes work

To pursue a successful copyright lawsuit, you must demonstrate that someone has unlawfully used your lyrics without your permission. Proving copyright infringement typically involves establishing two key elements:

Substantial similarity: You need to establish that the allegedly infringing lyrics are substantially similar to your original work. This comparison is typically made by examining the lyrics’ melody, structure, rhythm and overall message.

Access: You must also demonstrate that the individual or entity accused of infringement had access to your copyrighted lyrics. This could be established by showing that your work was widely available, performed publicly or sent to the alleged infringer directly.

The unauthorized use of your lyrics is undoubtedly a distressing experience for any artist. However, armed with an understanding of copyright protection and the appropriate legal guidance, you can protect your creative works and your rights.