I have some songs that I want to to copyright. Some of them I want to copyright under "Creative Commons" and some I want to copyright under "All Rights Reserved."

I know how to copyright songs, but how do I apply "Creative Commons" or "All Rights Reserved" to a song?


2 Answers 2


To apply "All rights reserved" to a song, you write the three words "All rights reserved" in your copyright notice (see the "PS" below for the rationale for doing this).

To apply a Creative Commons public license to a song, you use the Creative Commons License Chooser to generate a license for your song. Then you add the HTML-code generated by the License Chooser to the web-page where the song is available to the public (for streaming or for download).

PS: Since the year 2000, adding the string "All rights reserved" no longer has a legal effect in any jurisdiction. According to the Berne convention, all rights are automatically reserved as soon as you create a song or any other creative work. However, I recommend that you assert your rights with this notice. I've come across people who believe that it is perfectly legal to use a work for non-commercial purposes if there is no assertion of rights attached to the work. They are wrong, but adding the notice may avoid some misunderstandings.


It is not necessary to "apply" all rights reserved to your copyright. The rights are implicitly reserved unless you grant or license them to someone else. As noted in Free Radical's answer, though, you can still include the phrase in your copyright notice as an explicit indication that you wish to retain your rights.

Your question suggests that you may think it necessary to note the Creative Commons license when you register your copyright. In fact, it's not even necessary to register your copyright for the work to be protected, but registration does have some benefits.

Even if you do register the copyright, the copyright office won't generally track information about the licenses you've granted, whether they be global licenses such as CC or individual licenses granted by contract. The existence or lack of a license is generally a matter of concern only for you and users of your work. That's why Free Radical's answer directs you to the Creative Commons site instead of to a government site.

The HTML code that Free Radical mentions is not the only way to grant a CC license; you could also, for example, include the license text on a piece of paper if you were distributing physical copies of your work.

  • Thank you to adding to Radical’s answer. That helped clear a few things up.
    – Hunter T.
    May 15, 2018 at 20:49

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