803.8 (A) A Registration for a Sound Recording Distinguished from a Registration for a Musical Work or Literary Work
As discussed in Section 803.2, a sound recording and the music, lyrics, words, or other underlying content embodied in that recording are separate works. For example, the song “Amazing Grace” and a recording of Aretha Franklin singing “Amazing Grace” are two distinct works. The song itself (i.e., the music and lyrics) is a “musical work.” A recording of that song performed by a particular artist is a “sound recording.”
A registration for a sound recording covers the performance and production authorship involved in creating that recording, but does not cover the music, lyrics, words, or other underlying content embodied in that recording. Likewise, a registration for a musical work covers the music and lyrics embodied in that composition, and a registration for a dramatic work or a literary work covers the text and music embodied in that work, but it does not cover a particular recording of those works.
To register a sound recording, the applicant must select “Sound Recording” when completing the online application and must use Form SR when completing a paper application. By contrast, when registering a musical work, a dramatic work, or a literary work, the applicant should select “Work of the Performing Arts” or “Literary Work” when completing the online application or should use Form PA or Form TX when completing a paper application.
An applicant may use one application to register a sound recording together with a musical work, a dramatic work, or a literary work if the recording and the music, lyrics, words, or other underlying content are embodied in the same phonorecord and if the claimant owns the copyright in both works. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.3 (B) (1)(iv). If the copyright in the sound recording and the underlying content are owned by different parties, a separate application and filing fee must be submitted for each work.
It also may be possible to register multiple sound recordings together with the music, lyrics, words, or other underlying content embodied in each recording if the recordings and the underlying content is owned by the same claimant and if they were packaged or physically bundled together as a single unit and first published on the same date. This is known as the unit of publication option. For information concerning this option, see Section Chapter 1100, Section 1103.
NOTE: To register a sound recording together with the underlying content embodied in that recording, the applicant must select “Sound Recording” when completing the online application or must use Form SR when completing a paper application.
• Bob and Mary co-created a song and co-produced a recording of their composition. Bob wrote the lyrics for the song and sang the vocals on the recording. Mary wrote the music and played keyboards on the recording. Bob and Mary co-own the copyright in both the song and the sound recording; therefore, both works may be registered with the same application. The applicant should complete an SR application and should name Bob and Mary as the co-claimants for the music, lyrics, and sound recording.
• Sam wrote the music and lyrics for a song, and he owns the copyright in his composition. Sam and Bill co-produced a sound recording of this song, and they co-own the copyright in that recording. Because the ownership of the song and the sound recording are different, they must be registered with separate applications. The applicant should complete a PA application naming Sam as the author/claimant of the musical composition, and an SR application naming Sam and Bill as the co-authors and co- claimants of the sound recording.