Music distribution and copyright: how to promote your music without getting plagiarized

Posted on 23 May 2014 |

Adriano Bonforti, Patamu

In order to get your songs noticed, you need to be good at distributing them on the internet – and how you do that is almost as important as the quality of the songs themselves. This is great news for artists, as you don’t have to depend on getting signed to get heard, but there’s a downside: it’s far easier for people to copy your ideas and claim them as their own. How do you keep your work safe? Adriano Bonforti of Patamu can help...

Fears about plagiarism aren’t exactly unfounded: there have been many famous cases of plagiarism and plenty more have been alleged. Even when plagiarism is completely unintentional, it can be massively expensive and complicated to sort out.

So it’s a serious problem – so serious that artists are afraid of putting their work online for fear of being ripped off. Some artists get so worried about this that they avoid distributing their work at all, meaning that they lose the opportunity to make money from distributing their music online via companies such as Soundreef. It’s a shame: if people keep their songs in a dusty cupboard for fear of losing them, it’s bad for all of us.

Protecting your work used to be difficult and complicated, and many artists are still doing it in ways that are unnecessarily expensive or that don’t offer them the security they need.

For example, some artists still try to prove their authorship by packaging up a CD in a jiffy bag and posting it to themselves. The idea behind this is that the postmark adds a date stamp that remains effective unless the envelope is opened. However, this method may be inadequate: nowadays it would be very difficult to use it to prove authorship in a robust enough way for a court to accept, since it is quite easy to falsify the envelope. If you’re still doing it, you might want to find a more up-to-date way of doing things!

Another way of proving authorship is to deposit the work with a notary. This is time consuming, and can get very expensive – especially if you’re quite a prolific artist, so it’s unrealistic for most of us.

The Patamu project began as a way of helping me and my friends to prove that we had created artworks, so that we could distribute our work without worrying about plagiarism. Word spread quickly through the artistic community, and Patamu became popular, improving its features as more people signed up. We want to free the artists from all the bureaucracy involved in making artworks, leaving them free to focus on the creative process. As well as protection from plagiarism, Patamu offers consultancy services and advice on copyright issues, so that artists can understand what they need to do about copyright quickly, clearly and transparently.

When you register with Patamu you can instantly start protecting your work in a way that is completely reliable and completely free. You just have to fill in your personal details, then upload the file containing your song or artwork. The system will generate a zip file containing your declaration of authorship and the song, which is stamped with a legally valid and unbreakable cryptographic timestamp. When this is done, you can download the zip file and the timestamp file, as they prove you wrote the song – provided that nobody protected the same song before you!

Protecting your songs this way means you’re now free to distribute your song on the web without anyone else claiming it as their own – so get going! We’d love to hear about what you do with your music once you know you can prove it’s yours!

Adriano Bonforti is Founder of Patamu.com, a website that allows authors to protect their artworks and intellectual works from plagiarism instantly using legally valid cryptographic timestamps. This service is available to anyone who needs to protect their ideas – from musicians and bloggers to researchers, web platforms and publishing houses, and follows a 'fair contribution' policy: you can donate what you want (even nothing!) if you like the service and want to support it. Get in touch with him via Facebook or Twitter.