How to Copyright a Poster

By Timothy Mucciante

Federal copyright laws protect the creative expression of ideas, such as designing and producing a poster. A creative work can be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office online or by mail. Both methods require the same three basic steps: completing a registration application, paying the required fee and submitting your work to the Copyright Office.

Registering a Copyright Online

Step 1

Go to the Copyright Office website. Click on “eCO Login.” Enter your Copyright Office user ID on the user login screen. If you are not already a registered user, there is no cost for registering.

Step 2

Click on "Register a New Claim," then click on “Start Registration." Click "Type of Work," and specify the title and type of work being registered, and whether it is currently published. In the "Author" link, click on “New,” and enter your name (or pseudonym) as the author of the work.

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Step 3

Click on "New" in the “Claimant” link, and enter the required information. At the "Limitations of Claim" link, disclose any part of your poster that is based on work that is not owned by you, including proprietary fonts and images. You must get permission to use any protected font types and images in your poster. Contact the International Typeface Corp. for questions about licensing fonts and Creative Commons for questions about image rights.

Step 4

Enter the contact details for anyone seeking your permission to use part of your poster at the "Rights & Permissions" link,. Next, click on the “Correspondent” link, and give the information for the person that the Copyright Office staff may contact with any questions about your registration application. At the "Mail Certificate" link, complete the name and address of the person to whom the registration certificate should be sent.

Step 5

Click the "Special Handling" link if you would like your registration to be given a higher priority by the Copyright Office. After clicking the "Certification" link, verify that you are the creator of the poster and that everything you filled out in the application was correct to the best of your knowledge.

Step 6

Double-check the registration information after clicking on "Review Submission." If there are no changes, click "Add to Cart," and complete the payment details. The current online registration fee is $35. Deposit two copies of your poster with the Copyright Office within three months of the publication date. The address for depositing your poster with the Copyright Office is: Library of Congress, Copyright Office, Attn: 407 Deposits, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20559-6600.

Apply by Mail

Step 1

Complete section 1 of Form CO by indicating the type of work that is being registered. Section 2 (author) and section 3 (claimant) both require identification information and contact information. Any limitation of your copyright claim, if the work on your poster is not entirely owned by you, must be detailed in section 4.

Step 2

Fill in the rights and permissions contact information in section 5. The correspondence contact for any questions about the registration application by Copyright Office staff should be completed in section 6. In section 7, the contact to whom the copyright registration certificate should be mailed must be named. In section 8 you must certify that all the information in the application is correct.

Step 3

Send the completed Form CO, along with the filing fee and two copies of your poster for deposit as directed in the Form CO instructions.

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How to Obtain an Illustration Copyright



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