802.4 Fixation of Musical Works
To be copyrightable, musical works must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression. 17 U.S.C. § 102 (A). Musical works may be embodied either in copies or phonorecords, as explained in Sections 802.4 (A) through 802.4 (C). 17 U.S.C. § 101 (definition of “fixed”).
Improvised works are not registrable unless they are fixed in tangible form, such as in a transcribed copy, a phonorecord, or an audiovisual recording. A registration for an improvised musical work will extend only to the material that has been submitted to the Office.