The Not Today album is basically complete, but not released yet. There are always a few straggling things to take care of, and today is devoted to registering for copyright. Ah, copyright. What a maddening user experience this is.

I'm attempting to copyright through The Electronic Copyright Office. It's a long multi-page wizard that is sort of like filing your taxes through TurboTax, except less pleasant. (By the way, I am aware I already have copyrights on these songs just by creating them - in this post, I'm using "copyright" as a simile for "registering my copyright with the copyright office".)

A couple of years ago, I filed a copyright called "The Curt Siffert Songbook, Volume 1" that had lyrics and chord symbols for several of my songs, including six of the seven songs on the album. But then again, I've since learned that chord progressions are not copyrightable. Lyrics are, and it's a songbook with titles. So it's not clear what happened - I may have just copyrighted the lyrics. And some of the lyrics have seen minor revisions since then.

Additionally, there is the question of what has been published. This affects the details of how I copyright them. Four of the seven songs have been released online - five, if you count the one that is available only to mailing list subscribers. Now, I personally see all these songs as demos - they are live recordings, and a far cry from the fully produced versions of the songs on the cd. But an argument can be made that they were published.

Finally, there's the question of what to do about songs that are unpublished yet copyrighted, or published yet uncopyrighted.

The simplest way for me to handle this is to just declare to myself that I consider all my songs unpublished. The copyright office doesn't offer clear guidance on this for digital works, and basically says it is up to me to determine. So for this go-round, I'm registering the album as a Song Recording.

Here are the general sections in the form:

Type Of Work: This one seems pretty straightforward, as it is a cd, so I want to register it as a Sound Recording. However, they do have long instructions regarding multiple authorship types. Apparently this gets very complicated if the cd is a mix of published and unpublished works, since you are supposed to exclude previously published tracks, and re-register them in a different way (they don't say how). But I'm considering all my tracks as unpublished, so I'm sticking with Sound Recording.

Titles: I'm registering "Not Today" as the "Title of the work being registered" (since it's the album title), and each of the seven song titles (including the song named "Not Today") as "Contents title".

Publication/Completion: I'm most dubious about this one, but since they have never been in fixed physical form, I'm putting "No", it has not been published yet. And then for Year Of Completion, I'm putting 2013 even though the songs were written before this year.

Authors: Even though I'm registered as a corporation, I am not a work for hire for myself, so I put my own name.

Claimant: This is complicated because it's either an individual or an organization. Technically, my music publishing company (holding the copyrights to my songs) is named Storied Music, and my record label (holding the copyrights to my recordings) is First Set Records. So it's completely unclear what to put here. So I'm just going to put my name.

Limitation Of Claim: Ahh, this is where it starts to become clear. I'm not considering any previous work published, but I do have those previous copyrights that have previous versions of the lyrics. So I excluded the lyrics for 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7. And I re-included *all* material, with notes that lyrics are revised for 1, 2, 3, and 5.

The rest is pretty boilerplate stuff - contact information, review and submit, etc. But it's overall pretty maddening - I'll have a list of questions for the copyright office before I can feel comfortable submitting the application!