802.8 (C) Joint Authorship
If a musical work is a “joint work,” the applicant should name all the joint authors on the application. If there is a discrepancy between the individuals identified as authors on the application and the individuals identified as authors on the deposit copy(ies), the registration specialist will communicate with an applicant, unless this information is clarified elsewhere in the registration materials.
Historically, songs with different composers of music and lyrics have been registered as joint works. Where separate applications are received for the lyrics and the music of a song, the registration specialist may communicate with the applicant to inquire whether the authors intended to merge their contributions into a unitary whole. If the work is a work of joint authorship rather than a derivative work, the applicant(s) should submit one application listing both authors.
• An applicant identifies Bob Jordan as the author of the lyrics of a song. The song contains lyrics and music and the compact disc names Bob Jordan as the author of lyrics and Sam Sanders as the author of music. The specialist may inquire whether the applicant considers the song to be a joint work. If the song is a joint work, the applicant should name Bob as the author of lyrics and Sam as the author of music.
• An applicant names Bill Bland as the author of lyrics and Terry Taylor as the author of music, and states, “Bill owns the lyrics and Terry owns the music.” The specialist will provide information about joint works, and if the lyrics and music are separately owned, will ask that they be registered on separate applications with separate deposits.
For more information on joint works, see Section 801.6 and Chapter 500, Section 505.