What is Involved in Copyright Registration?

            You have this excellent creation that you want to protect, so now what? If you think you need copyright protection then there are two ways to register for a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office: online and mail applications. All applications must include a completed application form, a nonrefundable filing fee, and a nonreturnable deposit. A deposit is the copy or copies of the work that is being registered and “deposited” with the Copyright Office. The deposit cannot be returned, but they may be submitted electronically. Because deposits will not be returned, works for deposit may be exact copies of the work to be copyrighted.

            There are eight categories of copyrightable works and one MUST be selected before registering the work. These are very broad categories, but it is important to make sure that you’ve selected the correct one. The categories are 1. literary works; 2. musical works, including any accompanying words; 3. dramatic works, including any accompany music; 4. pantomimes and choreographic works; 5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; 6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works; 7. sound recordings; and 8. architectural works. The type of application that is filled out is dependent on the category of work. Make sure that your specific work is copyrightable before filing out an application.

            Online registration is preferred for literary works, visual arts works, performing arts works, including motion pictures, sound recordings, and single serials. In order to file online, registrants must first create a username and password with the eCO (electronic Copyright Office). After registration, registrants can register a new work with the Copyright Office through this cite. The benefits of applying online are that the filing fee is lower; the application is processed faster; and you can track the progress of your copyright application electronically.

            Paper applications are available at copyright.gov under the Forms section. Again, it is necessary to know what type of work is being copyrighted so that the proper form may be selected. Moreover, certain types of works must be filed for in paper.