How to Publish and Copyright a Poem

By Michael Butler

If you are a poet, you establish copyright protection for your poem as soon as you write it down. This protection gives you the exclusive right to publish, distribute and copy your poetry. For extra protection, including the right to sue and collect damages from someone who infringes your copyright, you can formally register your copyright with the United States Copyright Office. This can be done before or after you publish your poem.

If you are a poet, you establish copyright protection for your poem as soon as you write it down. This protection gives you the exclusive right to publish, distribute and copy your poetry. For extra protection, including the right to sue and collect damages from someone who infringes your copyright, you can formally register your copyright with the United States Copyright Office. This can be done before or after you publish your poem.

Step 1

Obtain copyright registration forms from the United States Copyright Office or an online legal services company such as LegalZoom.

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Step 2

Fill in the forms. The exact steps depend on which forms you use. In most cases, you will need to provide your name, address, the title of your poem and the date it was created. Sign the forms.

Step 3

Submit the completed forms to the U.S. Copyright Office with two copies of your poem and remit the current registration fee. You can mail the forms or file online through the Copyright Office or an online legal document service.

Step 4

Publish your poem. You can publish your poetry on your own blog or website, in a self-published book or by arrangement with a traditional publishing house.

Step 5

Include a copyright notice on your published work. The copyright notice consists of the copyright symbol (the letter “c” within a circle) followed by a space, the year in which you published the work, another space, and the name under which you registered the copyright. For example: © 2012 Bill Smith.

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