How to Apply for a Copyright

By David Carnes

Copyright law protects works of authorship, including art and software algorithms. To fully protect your work, you must create it and then register it with the U.S. Copyright Office. U.S. copyright law imposes both civil and criminal penalties against infringement. If you register your work, you can obtain damages of up to $150,000 per infringement without proving that the infringement caused you any economic damages. The procedure for creating and registering your copyright is straightforward and simple.

Step 1

Reduce your work to tangible form: record a song, for example, or write down a story. As long as your work is original, it is entitled to copyright protection even if it is never published.

Step 2

Navigate to Form CO on the website of the U.S. Copyright Office (please see Reference 1). You can complete this form online.

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Step 3

Complete Form CO. You must provide the title of the work, the type of work, the publication details (if it has been published) and the year of completion. You must also provide the full name of the author, the author's years of birth and death (if applicable), and the name and contact details of the copyright claimant if the claimant is not the author. You must also provide contact details that will allow people to request permission to use your work.

Step 4

Send Form CO, a digital copy of your work and a filing fee, $35 as of publication date, per work to the U.S. Copyright Office. You may also file your application by surface mail for a fee of $50 at publication date per work. The Copyright Office will mail you a copyright certificate.

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How to Copyright Something in Canada

References

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How to Copyright a Webpage

Your webpage is technically copyrighted as soon as it is placed in a tangible medium such as the Internet. In order to further protect your website you should consider registering for a formal copyright so that you will have the ability to sue any third parties that might misuse your materials. Copyrighting your webpage is not a difficult task, but copyright protection will only extend to certain aspects of your webpage, such as writings, artwork and photographs. A copyright will not protect your domain name, any functional aspects of your website, or any elements of your website that are common or otherwise part of the public domain.

How to Enforce Your Copyright if Someone Infringes on Your Work

A copyright gives you legal protection over a work you created. Copyright protection extends not only to works of authorship such as musical compositions and novels, but also to software algorithms. The U.S. Copyright Act provides a variety of legal remedies that you can use against copyright infringement including injunctions, civil damages and statutory damages. Although you don't have to register your copyright in order to have grounds for an infringement lawsuit, prior registration confers significant legal advantages.

How to Copyright Music & Lyrics

Songwriters and composers invest enormous amounts of time and creative energy into developing new musical works. Copyright provides legal protection to ensure that others can not exploit that creative effort by using music and lyrics without the permission of the songwriter or composer. The U.S. Copyright Office has made it relatively simple to register the copyright of music and lyrics in one filing.

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