How to Copyright a Drawing

by Robin Elizabeth Margolis
Registering your drawing with the Copyright Office provides additional legal protections.

Registering your drawing with the Copyright Office provides additional legal protections.

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Under current U.S. copyright law, your drawing is automatically protected from the moment that you created it. You are not legally required to formally copyright it. The U.S. Copyright Office recommends that you obtain a certificate of copyright registration for your drawing to receive additional legal protections, including a public record of your copyright claim.

Registering Online

Step 1

Review a U.S. Copyright Office brochure titled "Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts."

Step 2

Visit the U.S. Copyright Office website. Click on a link titled "Electronic Copyright Office." On the next page, click on a link titled "eCO Tutorial." Read the tutorial to learn each step in the online copyright application process.

Step 3

Return to the home page of the U.S. Copyright Office website. Click on a link titled, "eCO Login." Follow the interactive screens' directives to set up your online copyright application account. You will be charged an application fee, $35 at the time of publication.

Step 4

Print out a shipping slip for a copy of your drawing that you will be sending by postal mail to the U.S. Copyright Office.

Step 5

Make a photocopy of your drawing that will be linked with your electronic application. The photocopy colors should match those in the drawing. If your drawing is unpublished, prepare one photocopy. If your drawing is published, make two copies. The Copyright Office prefers that the copies of your drawing display its entire content in an 8-inch by 10-inch format.

Step 6

Fill out the shipping slip and attach it to the packaged photocopy of your drawing. Send the photocopy of your drawing to the Copyright Office address shown on the shipping slip within 30 days after registering the drawing's copyright online. Place the photocopy and the shipping slip in a box instead of an envelope to insure that the photocopy survives the current mail security irradiation process.

Step 7

Contact the Copyright Office if you do not receive your drawing's certificate of registration within three months.

Registering by Postal Mail

Step 1

Review a U.S. Copyright Office brochure titled "Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts."

Step 2

Visit the U.S. Copyright Office website. Click on a link titled "Forms." Scroll down the next page and download a copy of Form CO and its instructions. Print out Form CO, "Application for Copyright Registration," and fill it out.

Step 3

Make a photocopy of your drawing that will accompany your Form CO. The photocopy colors should match those in the drawing. If your drawing is unpublished, prepare one photocopy. If your drawing is published, make two copies. The Copyright Office prefers that the copies of your drawing display its entire content in an 8-inch by 10-inch format.

Step 4

Place Form CO, a photocopy of your drawing, and a check for $50 made out to the "Register of Copyrights" in a box instead of an envelope to ensure that the photocopy survives the current mail security irradiation process.

Step 5

Send the box to: Library of Congress, Copyright Office, 101 Independence Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20559-6211.

Step 6

Contact the Copyright Office if you do not receive a certificate of registration for your drawing within 10 months.