How to Copyright a Business Plan

By A.L. Kennedy

A business plan lays out the steps you plan to take to make a business grow. Although registering a copyright for a business plan is not required, registration can help protect your business plan from plagiarism or unauthorized copying. A copyright will protect the text and images of your business plan, but it will not protect the ideas the text expresses. If you have created a new business method that you want to protect, consider getting a patent on the method.

Step 1

Make at least two copies of your business plan. These copies can be on paper, or they can be stored electronically on a CD-ROM. Do not store the copies on a floppy disk, a zip disk, or a flash drive, since the U.S. Copyright Office will not accept these formats. You will need to send two copies of your business plan to the U.S. Copyright Office when you register your copyright, so make enough copies so that you will have some left over after you register.

Step 2

Choose the type of form you wish to use to register your copyright. Since a business plan is primarily a textual work, the U.S. Copyright Office provides two different ways to register. You may register online using Form eCO, available through the U.S. Copyright Office website. You may also register by filling out paper Form CO. If you use Form CO, you must also use paper Form TX for textual works. The paper forms can be downloaded from the U.S. Copyright Office website.

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Step 3

Decide whether to register the copyright in the business plan's images, if any, separately. This is not required, but it may be valuable if you plan to use any pictures, graphs, diagrams, or other visuals separately from the business plan as a whole. If you decide to register the images separately, you will need to fill out a separate Form eCO or a separate Form CO and Form VA, for visual works, and pay a separate registration fee for each image.

Step 4

Submit the required items to the U.S. Copyright Office. If you are registering your copyright only in the business plan as a whole, submit two copies of the business plan, either Form eCO or Form CO and Form TX, and the registration fee. As of 2011, the U.S. Copyright Office required a $35 registration fee for works registered on Form eCO and a $50 fee for works registered on Form CO. If you are registering one or more images separately from the business plan, submit the items listed above, plus two copies of each image and another Form eCO or Form CO and Form VA and another registration fee for each image.

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How to Register My LLC Copyright



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Quotations are not typically copyrighted; rather, the work of which the quotation is a part of is the copyrighted work. It can be difficult to ensure that a quotation receives copyright protection because "fair use" permits excerpts of a copyrighted work to be used for limited scholarly and educational purposes. However, there are several steps authors can take to protect their quotations and, depending on the length of quotation and how it is published, they may be able to enforce their copyrights.

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Designs, including artistic designs, designs for buildings, and designs for ships, are eligible to receive copyright protection in the United States. Like other works that receive copyright protection, a copyright attaches to the design as soon as it is fixed in a tangible medium, including paper or electronic sketches of the design. To receive the full scope of copyright protection, including the right to sue for statutory damages, the copyright must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.


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