How Do I Register a Copyright?

Copyright is a means of protecting original work that is the intellectual property of an individual. Forms of work that can be copyrighted are architecture, computer software, songs, movies, novels and poetry. When you copyright your work it does not protect that actual idea or method of production, however it could possibly protect the form of expression.

Intellectual property that may need protection can be anything that someone fashions with their intellect or mind. Protection of said property can come in the form of trademarks, mostly for branding and logo purposes, patents or copyright protection. Patents tend to be for inventions. Before you register to have your intellectual property protected, you need to make sure how you should protect it first based on the three types of protection.

When you register your intellectual property for copyright protection, it proves that you have ownership and will aid you if you ever have to fight against copyright infringement.

You should keep in mind that the registration of your work is not necessarily a condition of protection. Instead it establishes a copyright claim once your work has become public record. In order to file an infringement law suit you have to have proof of copyright registration of said work. If you work is registered and copyrighted this will hold up in a court of law and establish prima facie evidence proving that you have legitimacy of your copyright and the facts itemized in the certificate, within the first five years it has been in publication.

Works of U.S. origin must have copyright protection in order to file suit against someone who is infringing upon it. If you copyright your work three months after it has seen publication or prior to an infringement of your work, statutory damages and fees applied by attorney’s will be open to the owner of the copyright in court actions. The profits and damages are only available to the actual owner of the copyright. You need to register your work within the U.S. Customs Service in order to receive protection against infringing copies and importation.

You do not necessarily have to register for the copyright of any of your work when you first create it. You can copyright it at any time during the life of your creation. There are a few steps you will need to take in order to register your work for copyright purposes. You can register via paper registration. Basically, this means that you have to mail three items to the Library of Congress.

There are several different forms available for you to fill out depending on the type of work you are trying to register for copyright protection. You can find these forms online by looking up copyright procedures on the internet. Below is a list of the forms and the type of copyright that applies to them.

  • Computer Programs and Literary Work – Form TX

  • Performing Arts – Form PA

  • Periodicals and Serials – Form SE

  • Groups of Periodicals and Serials – SE/Group

  • Newsletters and Newspapers – Form SE

  • Recordings – Form SR

  • Visual Arts – Form VA

Along with the form that is filled in properly, you will need to send in a check for the filing fee which is nonrefundable. There is a filing fee for each application. The last filing fee listed in 2011 was thirty five dollars. This fee may be more depending on how you intend to file your copyright form. You may want to look up current rates and procedures to make sure you are following copyright filing guidelines. These can be found online, as well.

The final item you need to include when mailing your forms for copyright protection is a nonrefundable deposit of your work you want registered. In this case a nonrefundable deposit refers to a copy of your work if is unpublished and two copies of your work if it is published. This applies to any form or creation you want to register for copyright protection.

Make sure you use the best edition of your work when you send in your deposit too. You will also need to meet all the requirements for the deposit, as well. For a list of complete procedures, you need to make yourself familiar with Copyright Registration Procedures. This can usually be found online when you look for the proper forms you need.

You need to make sure you follow directions and include everything listed above. If the Copyright Office receives your forms and does not have everything they need to file your form they will not file and they will not inform you of this infraction.Be sure that you have everything you need before you send in any forms, money, and your work. If you are worried that you may miss a step or forget to include an important document, then you may be interested in filing online.  


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