How to Copyright a Story

Copyright exists as soon as the story is finished. Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is optional, but recommended, since registered stories have advantages in a lawsuit against those who try to pass off the work as their own, including a chance to sue for damages. You have three ways to register a copyright: online, with a barcoded form or with Form TX. All three require an application form, a filing fee and a copy of the work, which the Copyright Office calls a "deposit." The fee is nonrefundable and the copy will be not be returned. Registration is effective from the date the Copyright Office receives the materials (see Resources).

Electronic Registration

Online registration is the fastest and least expensive way to file, and the preferred method for literary works, according to the Copyright Office. Besides getting the lowest filing fee of £22, you can pay online, track the status of the application and upload some types of works. If the work is already published, you must send in a hard copy as the deposit, but can still use electronic registration.

Fill-in Form CO

Using Fill-in Form CO is not as advantageous as online registration, but is faster than the third method, filling out Form TX. You can download Fill-in Form CO from the Copyright Office's website, fill it in and then mail it in along with the fee and the deposit of the story. Each application form you download has a unique barcode, which helps streamline the application's processing. The fee to register your copyright this way is £29 (see Resources).

Paper Form

The final method you can use to register your copyright is to use Form TX. To get the form, you have to call the Copyright Office and ask them to send you one by mail. After filling it out, you mail it in with the fee and the deposit. The number to call is (202) 707-3000, and the fee is £29.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Sophie Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media. A freelancer for more than 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews.