You worked hard writing your article, website or a book. Nobody else but you should benefit from your work. Without copyright protection, however, you risk someone benefiting from your writing at your expense. Even if you suffer damages, you'll have a hard time proving that your work belongs to you. Applying for copyright protection gives you ammunition to use if you take someone to court for benefiting from your work.
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Proceed to the United States Copyright Office webpage, see Resources below. Click on "How to Register a Work" hyperlink near the top of a webpage; then scroll down till you get to the hyperlink for "Form CO." Read the instructions that show up on the following page; then click on the hyperlink that says, "Download Form CO."
Place an "X" on the box representing the work that you want to copyright in section 1a; then place your work's title in the big box below section 1b. Proceed to 1c if you're copyrighting a series of works. List your work's volume, number, issue, ISSN, and frequency of publication. Use the box in item 1d if your work used to have another title. Place the year you completed your work in the segmented box in 1e.
Place your publication information in items 1f through 1l. Move to page 2 to provide your personal or business information. Provide your, or the author's birth year, in 2d. Provide your citizenship, residency and contribution information in 2f and 2g. Complete 2e and 2g if you're applying for another author; place the creator's mode of cooperation in 2g. Specify what the author contributed in section 2h. Repeat this step in page 3 if you're applying for a copyright for another person.
Use page 4, item 4a, to identify what material isn't going to be a part of the copyright application. List their registrations in 4b. Use 4c to list additional items that are to be covered by copyright; this is if you're applying for a previously copyrighted work that has new material in it. Use page 5 to identify the person that'll grant the rights for others to use the copyrighted material.
Complete page 6 to provide point of contact information for the person that'll receive mail and communication related to the copyright application. Designate who's going to receive the copyright certificate, then place their information in page 7. Provide your signature in page 8 to certify that this application contains truthful information. See tips for mailing and fee information.
Tips and warnings
- To get fee information, go down to the "contact" link on their home page and click it. Select "copyright fees" hyperlink; then look for the fee you'll have to send with your application. Filing fees for online registration are lower than those that accompany mailing registration.
- Mail your application and your fee, made payable to "U.S. Copyright Office," to the following address: Library of Congress; U.S. Copyright Office; 101 Independence Avenue SE; Washington, DC 20559-****. Use the following extensions in place of the "****" zip code extension: 6222, literary; 6211, visual arts; 6233, performing arts; 6238, motion picture; 6237, sound recording; 6226, single serial.
- You can use the same form to apply for multiple copyrights. Keep the standard information like contact information, and change the information that's different. The information will change in the barcodes.
- You can apply for a copyright online at the United States Copyright Office webpage. While you're on the website's home page, click "How to Register a Work" hyperlink. On the next page, click "Electronic Copyright Office." Read the directions; then click on the "continue to eCO" button. Create an account with them; then file with their user friendly copyright application software.
- Fees and fee procedures can change; so call (202) 707-3000, for information on fees and deposits, and who to make the check out to, access the United States Copyright Office Website listed in the Resources below if this number changes. You also can call this number if you want can't access the website and want to order the application form.
- The website could change after this article posts. If that happens go to the new website's search box and type "copyright form." The results will lead you to the copyright form and the instructions to fill it out. Repeat this process by typing "fees" in the search box to get updated fees. Even if the website changes, you'll see registration options in the front page.
- Don't alter the form after you print it out. The information is stored on a barcode; changing information on the form after you print it out will create conflicting information. This could slow or halt your application process. Make sure that you print the form out and submit it to the US Copyright office without alterations.
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