802.8 (D) Name Individual Authors (Not Performing Groups) as the Author of a Musical Work
Generally, the applicant should name the individual authors of a musical work, and should not name a performing group as an organizational author, unless the group is a legal entity that created the musical work as a work made for hire. Naming the individuals as the authors rather than the performing group creates a clearer public record, because membership in the performing group may change over time.
The applicant should provide the legal name(s) of all the individual(s) who created the musical work in the Author field or space (unless the work is pseudonymous, anonymous, or a work made for hire). However, the applicant should include only the names of the songwriters (i.e., the author(s) of the music and, if applicable, the lyrics).
The applicant should not list all of the names of the band members unless all of the members contributed to the authorship of the musical work. The band members’ contribution to the recorded performance (i.e., the sound recording) may well be a separate claim that includes different authors from the claim in the musical work. If the authors of the musical work are different from the authors of the sound recording, separate applications should be filed for each work.
For instance, if a band is comprised of Bingo, Mick, Paul, and Keith, but Keith wrote all the lyrics and Bingo wrote all the music, the authors for the musical work should be limited to Keith and Bingo. The applicant for the sound recording may list all of the performers who contributed to the sound recording as well as any producer who contributed copyrightable production.
Where the authors are members of a performing group and the applicant wishes to include the name of the performing group in the record, the applicant may provide that information in the Note to Copyright Office field of the online application. When completing a paper application, the applicant should list each author in the Author space and may include the statement “member of [performing group X].” In both cases, the registration specialist will add the name of the performing group to the record as an index term.
If the musical work is pseudonymous (meaning that the individual who created the work is identified on the deposit under a fictitious name), the applicant may give the pseudonym instead of providing the author’s legal name and may indicate that the work is pseudonymous.
For registration purposes, the name of a performing group generally would not be considered a pseudonym, because pseudonyms apply only to individuals. If an applicant names a performing group as the author and indicates that the musical work is pseudonymous, the registration specialist generally will communicate with the applicant to request that the legal names of the individual authors who created the work be added to the application.
If the applicant names a performing group as the author and indicates that the work is a work made for hire, the specialist will communicate with the applicant unless it is clear that the performing group is a legal entity and that the work was created by the employees of that entity or was a specially commissioned work under the statutory definition of a work made for hire. If the performing group is a legal entity and if the musical work was created by the employees of that entity or was a specially commissioned work under the statutory definition of work made for hire, then the performing group should be named as the author and the work made for hire question should be answered “yes.”
• The performing group Tangent Image consists of three individuals: Richard Washington, Gary Watts, and Joel Wilson. All three are authors and owners of the song being registered. The application should name the three individuals as authors and claimants. If desired, the applicant may indicate that the individuals are known as Tangent Image by providing that information in the Note to Copyright Office field (online application) or in space 2 (paper application).