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Help: Copyright: to incorporate or not?

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mousethief 11 Oct 01 - 02:29 PM
MMario 11 Oct 01 - 02:39 PM
Bennet Zurofsky 11 Oct 01 - 03:15 PM
GUEST,Russ 11 Oct 01 - 04:21 PM
Jack the Sailor 11 Oct 01 - 04:38 PM
Steve in Idaho 11 Oct 01 - 04:47 PM
GUEST 11 Oct 01 - 05:35 PM
mousethief 11 Oct 01 - 06:20 PM
pavane 12 Oct 01 - 12:28 PM
mousethief 15 Oct 01 - 01:32 PM
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Subject: Copyright: to incorporate or not?
From: mousethief
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 02:29 PM

Forgive me for starting a new thread, but I haven't seen any copyright threads here since earlier this year, and [1] the number of threads I got on my searches was overwhelming, and [2] none of the ones I looked at answered my question.

What are the advantages or disadvantages of creating a corporation to hold copyright on my songs? Many, maybe most, but certainly not all songwriters have a corporation (usually with a clever name) to hold their copyrights. Obviously I don't NEED to do this, but do I WANT to? Or do I specifically NOT want to?

Reason I'm asking: I'm planning to cut a small number of CDR's of my own guitar-playing and so-called singing, for gifts, but also to sell at gigs. Before I register a copyright on the self-written songs, I want to establish whether I should just register them in my name, or if I should form a paper corporation to register them under.

Thanks in advance,
Alex


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Subject: RE: Help: Copyright: to incorporate or not?
From: MMario
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 02:39 PM

I'd talk to a lawyer - but I do know that setting up a legal corperation can get expensive - and I believe that in most states it requires multiple people.

but you can also set up companies that are just "you" under another name.


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Subject: RE: Help: Copyright: to incorporate or not?
From: Bennet Zurofsky
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 03:15 PM

Song royalties are paid to both the composer and the publisher of the song. If you expect (or hope) to get any air-play, or to have your songs covered by other artists then you will probably want to form your own publishing company. You will also want to become a member of either ASCAP or BMI, which are entities that police and collect royalties on behalf of composers and publishers. If you contact them they probably can provide you with a kit that will tell you all that you need to know. I believe that you must have a publisher in order to register your songs with ASCAP or BMI.

Of course, you will also need to copyright your songs. The federal copyright office will probably send you all you need in order to do this.

Setting up a corporation is neither very expensive nor very difficult. Most attornies will do the whole thing, including the fees that must be paid to the state, for $1,000 or less, or you could probably do it yourself with information from the Secretary of State of other appropriate government office in your state. Your local reference librarian would also probably be able to guide you to a book with forms for your state. Corporate status also requires various annual filings, including for taxes, since you will have created an artificial person.

It may also be possible for you to set up your publisher without incorporating, i.e., as a sole proprietorship which you own and are responsible for. You should check with your accountant to see whether this would require you to obtain a separate tax number (different from your own social security number) and to file a separate tax return for the enterprise. It may only require you to file an additional schedule with your personal income tax returns.

I am a New Jersey attorney and I do not practice in this area, but I believe the above describes the basics. If you are really serious about the songwriting business then you should probably invest in a full consultation with a lawyer or other professional so that you can be sure that you understand the way things work. You may also find it worth your while to hook up with an established publisher.

Good luck.

Bennet D. Zurofsky, Esq.


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Subject: RE: Help: Copyright: to incorporate or not?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 04:21 PM

Should you decide to go the incorporation route take a look at http://www.state.de.us/corp/q&a.htm


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Subject: RE: Help: Copyright: to incorporate or not?
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 04:38 PM

I seriously doubt from what you have described that it would be worth your while to incorporate. but if you are promoting yourself to radio or trying to sell your songs for use on other media, then it would be worthwhile join BMI of ASCAP. If you start to make piles of money, you can always "sell" the publishing rights to your corporation.


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Subject: RE: Help: Copyright: to incorporate or not?
From: Steve in Idaho
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 04:47 PM

Jan and I are set up as a sole proprietor for our business - cost nothing but the tax accountant at the end of the year. If you have a tangible product it does require a Sales Tax number in my state.

Steve

PS - Listen to the attorney - he knows.


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Subject: RE: Help: Copyright: to incorporate or not?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 05:35 PM

Listen to the attorney - he knows

Alternatively, listen to Alex's songs...

The answer will then be clear enough


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Subject: RE: Help: Copyright: to incorporate or not?
From: mousethief
Date: 11 Oct 01 - 06:20 PM

Is that a compliment or a troll?


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Subject: RE: Help: Copyright: to incorporate or not?
From: pavane
Date: 12 Oct 01 - 12:28 PM

Just remember - that's how Lennon & McCartney lost the rights to their own songs. Wouldn't have happened if they hadn't assigned them to a company.


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Subject: RE: Help: Copyright: to incorporate or not?
From: mousethief
Date: 15 Oct 01 - 01:32 PM

Their problem was making it a public company, i.e. with stock that could be purchased by hostile people. A closely-held company can't have that problem; it can only be sold if the owner, which is me, wants to sell it.

Alex


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