Copyright is an important type of intellectual property (IP).
Specifically, copyrights protect original works of authorship as soon as the creator fixes the work in a tangible form of expression.
Common examples of copyrightable works include:
- Blog posts, and
- Computer programs.
No matter what type of work you want to protect, registering your copyright is an important step to take to better protect your IP rights.
How to Register a Copyright
The copyright registration process is relatively simple on the surface. However, it’s essential to know precisely what information you’ll need ahead of time to simplify the process later on.
Your copyright registration application materials will consist of the following:
- Your copyright registration form;
- The appropriate registration filing fee; and
- A nonreturnable “deposit,” or copy of the work being registered with the Copyright Office.
Failure to include all three of these items can delay your registration and potentially result in a denial altogether.
The type of copyright registration form you’ll need to file will depend on the specific type of work you intend to register. For example, there are separate forms for each of the following types of copyrightable works:
- Literary works;
- Visual works;
- Single serials (i.e., works intended to be issued in successive parts and continued indefinitely);
- Performing arts works; and
- Sound recordings.
Thus, be sure to use the correct form when completing your copyright registration application.
After submitting your registration materials, the next step is to wait for the Copyright Office to accept or reject your application.
In some cases, it might follow up to request additional information before accepting or rejecting.
Unfortunately, there is no set amount of time within which you can expect the Copyright Office to process your registration.
Thus, it may take weeks or even months to complete the registration process.
Common Questions About Copyright Registration
If you still have questions about the copyright registration process, you’re not alone. The details make it a complex and rather obscure process with a lot of moving parts.
Below are some common questions that many of our clients frequently have before beginning the process.
What Information Do I Need to Include in My Registration Application?
A copyright application must include important basic information about the work you intend to register. Such information will typically include the:
- Title of the work;
- Author or the work;
- Name and address of the copyright owner;
- Year of creation;
- Whether the work has been published or previously registered; and
- Whether the work includes preexisting materials.
For questions about what information to include in your application, speak with a member of our team today.
Do I Have to Register My Copyright?
Copyright exists automatically at the time of creation of an original work once it is fixed in a tangible medium.
Thus, you technically do not have to register your work to have a protectable, copyrighted work.
Nevertheless, registering your work with the United States Copyright Office can greatly enhance the protections associated with your copyright.
For example, you must register your work to:
- Put other people on notice of your copyright;
- File a lawsuit for copyright infringement in federal court;
- Establish prima facie evidence of the validity of your copyright;
- Seek statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, and court costs; and
- Establish a record with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for protection against cross-border importation of infringing copies.
So, while you may not have to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office, doing so is often one of the best ways to protect your intellectual property rights moving forward.
Where Do I File?
To register your copyright, you must file with the United States Copyright Office, which accepts both paper and electronic filings.
While you can submit your paper application and payment by mail, the Copyright Office strongly encourages electronic filings instead.
In fact, there are a number of benefits of filing through the online system, such as:
- Lower filing fees,
- Faster examination times,
- Expanded payment method options, and
- Online status tracking for your application.
Despite these benefits, you are nevertheless well within your right to submit a paper application instead if you prefer.
What Are the Fees for Copyright Registration?
Paying the appropriate non-refundable filing fee is a prerequisite to the registration of your mark. However, the precise amount of your filing fee will depend on a number of factors.
Such factors include:
- Method of filing (e.g., paper vs. electronic),
- Type of work being registered, and
- The number of works being applied for.
It’s also important to remember that copyright registration fees are always subject to change.
Accordingly, make sure to check with the Copyright Office periodically for the most up-to-date filing fees.
Contact Our Team of Copyright Registration Attorneys Today
Protecting your IP rights is crucial, but doing so is not always easy or intuitive. Fortunately, Massingill is here to help.
Our experienced business law and intellectual property attorneys pride themselves on making the complex simple.
Thus, when you hire our team, we will help ensure that the copyright registration process is as smooth and efficient as possible.
We have years of experience helping creators, business owners, and entrepreneurs with their IP and business needs, and we hope we have the opportunity to help you, too.
Contact us today for a consultation and see what our team can do for you.