How to Copyright a Documentary

By Thomas King

Copyright is a form of protection that is available for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Your documentary film is entitled to automatic copyright protection from the moment it is recorded; however, you also have the option to formally register the work. Registration is beneficial because it creates a public record and allows you to recover monetary damages in the event that someone infringes on your documentary film. You can register in three ways: online through the U.S. Copyright Office, online using a document preparation and filing service such as or by mailing in paper forms.

Online Registration through the Copyright Office

Step 1

Navigate to the U.S. Copyright Office website (link in Resources) and click "eCo Login."

Step 2

Click "Continue to eCo" and "If you are a new user, click here to register."

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now

Step 3

Fill out the new user registration form. You will be redirected to the Electronic Copyright Office Web page when you are finished

Step 4

Click "Register a New Claim" in the left pane of the Electronic Copyright Office page and then click "Start Registration." Fill out the registration form. At the end of the registration form, you will be asked to specify a payment method for remitting the registration fees.

Online Registration Using

Step 1

Browse to the Copyright Registration section on the website (link in Resources).

Step 2

Check the box next to "Movie or Video" and then click "Get Started."

Step 3

Answer the simple questionnaire that appears. At the end of the registration form, you will be asked to provide a method of payment for the services. Once your questionnaire is complete, assembles your copyright application and files it with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Filing Paper Forms

Step 1

Contact the U.S. Copyright Office and request paper versions of Form PA.

Step 2

Fill out Form PA.

Step 3

Send your completed Form PA, accompanied by a check for the filing fees, to the address listed on the form.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now
How to Publish Poetry for Free and Get It Copyrighted



Related articles

How to Copyright Your Entire Blog

Although your blog is protected by copyright the moment you publish it to the Web, you should consider registering your blog with the United States Copyright Office. Doing so will give you additional protection, including the right to sue and collect damages if someone infringes your content. You can copyright your entire blog as it exists on the date of registration, but subsequent updates will require additional filings. In addition to registering your copyright, placing a copyright notice on your blog will let visitors know that you are serious about protecting your rights.

How to Preserve Copyright on a CD

A music CD has automatic copyright protection when it is created, whether or not it is registered with the U.S. Copyright office or contains a copyright notice. But both registration and notice help protect your rights in important ways. Copyright registration is required before you can sue for infringement. It will also help prove your case and, if filed on time, allows you to win attorney fees and statutory damages. A visible copyright notice prevents an infringer from claiming that the infringement was an innocent mistake. Both are important to preserve your rights.

How to Apply for a Copyright

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.


Related articles

How to Copyright a DVD

Copyright protection attaches to many forms of creative work, including motion pictures recorded on a DVD. Copyright ...

How to Get a Copyright for an Instrumental

An instrumental work receives copyright protection as soon as it has been written down or recorded. Registration with ...

How to Protect Songs and Poems by Copyright

Original songs and poems are protected by copyright the moment they are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. ...

How to Copyright a Movie Script

In the United States, copyright protection attaches to written works such as movie scripts as soon as they are fixed in ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED