Tools for Copyrighting

by Thomas King
Copyright registration can be done on or offline.

Copyright registration can be done on or offline.

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Copyright protects original works of authorship, including novels, movies, songs, pictures, paintings, and computer software. Once the work of authorship is created and fixed in a tangible form, it is under copyright protection. However, many people choose to take the next step of registering their work with the United States Copyright Office. This ensures that the individual is able to bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement, if necessary. There are four common tools associated with registering a work of authorship with the United States Copyright Office.

Paper Registration

You can register your copyright by filling out the appropriate paper form: TX (for literary works), VA (for visual arts works), PA (for performing arts and motion pictures), SR (for sound recordings) or SE (for single serials), and sending the form to the address listed on the form. The forms can be accessed under "Forms" on the United States Copyright Office website or by calling the Forms and Publications Hotline at (202) 707-9100. Note that you will have to include a check for the filing fees.

Electronic Copyright Office

Electronic Copyright Office is a website run by the United States Copyright Office. The website allows you to access and fill out the copyright registration forms online. Applying online through the Electronic Copyright Office offers a lower filing fee and faster processing time than filing using paper forms. Moreover, filing online allows users to track the status of their claim. To access the registration forms, navigate to the United States Copyright Office website, click "eCo Login," then "Continue to eCo" and follow the registration instructions.

Online Document Provider

Online document providers assist people with common legal matters, including copyright registration. Generally, an online document provider assembles your copyright application using information obtained from a simple questionnaire and files the application with the United States Copyright Office for a single fee. Upon registration, your Certificate of Registration arrives in the mail.

Poor Man's Copyright

Sending a copy of your work of authorship to yourself through the mail is referred to as a "poor man's copyright." However, there is no language addressing this act in the copyright law, and it is not a legally recognized method of registration.