Copyrighting music for free is a controversial issue, with differing opinions and interpretations of copyright law. According to the United States Copyright Office, copyright protection for musical works is automatic from the moment of creation. This means that once a musical work is recorded or written down, it is legally protected and the creator has exclusive rights over the work, including the right to distribute, perform, and license the work.
However, formal registration with the copyright office is necessary in order to bring a copyright infringement lawsuit, and fees are associated with the registration process. There are some organizations that claim to provide free copyright protection for musical works, such as the Library of Congress’s “eCO” system, however, these organizations are not recognized as official by the U.S. government and their efficacy in protecting copyright is uncertain.
Additionally, some proponents of creative commons licenses argue that copyright law is too restrictive and that it is possible to release music for free while still retaining certain rights. Under creative commons licenses, creators can choose to allow others to use their music for free, as long as certain conditions are met, such as giving credit to the original creator.
In conclusion, while technically a musical work is automatically protected by copyright from the moment of creation, it is generally recommended to formally register the work with the copyright office and to consider alternative licensing models such as creative commons. As always, it is advisable to seek the advice of a qualified attorney for specific questions about copyright law.