Posted: Jan 16, 2005 12:05 am
The mail-yourself thing is a way to prove prior art in case someone else tries to claim copyright on your own work. It was a DIY legal trick used a lot in the 50's and 60's. Nifty little fact, but I wouldn't put any faith in it holding up in a modern courtroom in this day and age of Intellectual Property.
I'm no lawyer, but if I were you, I would go through the industry-standard procedures (BMI, ASCAP, etc.). It's a bit more effort, but that's kind of the point here. If it comes down to it later, you have a paper trail as evidence that you went to certain lengths to protect your "intellectual property".
As for signing contracts, etc. I have to recommend a using a lawyer (that you trust). I've had contracts handed to me making promises that, in reality, the promiser would not legally be forced to keep and other such non-intuitive nonsense.
It's just like how the grocery store puts up signs saying they're not liable for damage done to cars by shopping carts, but in reality, they are. Or elementary school permission slips for field trips that don't hold up in negligence cases, etc.
There are certain things legally that you can't agree to, certain things you don't have to fulfill, tricky wording, local, state, and federal laws. Too much for someone like me to keep up with, especially in such a money-grubbing, back-stabbing industry.
Anyway, that's my $0.02.