2122.1 (C) Released Only in a Phonorecord
Under the Copyright Act of 1909, releasing a sound recording on a phonorecord did not constitute publication of the recorded musical work or song. However, such works were often registered as unpublished works to secure federal statutory protection. When the U.S. Copyright Office receives a claim in a musical work that was released in a recording before 1978 and it seems likely that the author or copyright owner would have registered the work to secure statutory protection when the recording was released, the Office may
25 Song lyrics that were first published separately from the music could be registered in class A as a book for the original term. See Section 2118. advise the applicant to request a search of the records before proceeding with registration. For more information on searching Office records, see How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work (Circular 22) and The Copyright Card Catalog and the Online Files of the Copyright Office (Circular 23).
Exception: When the lyrics of a song were printed on an album cover or insert, the lyrics were considered to be published as of the release date of the album. In such cases, the lyrics must be registered separately from the music, based on the facts of first publication, and renewal registration depends on whether the album contained the statutory or U.C.C. notice for visually perceptible authorship.