How to Copyright Sculptures

By Victoria McGrath

A sculptor automatically secures "common law" copyrights in a sculpture as soon as it is created and fixed in a tangible form. Any sculpture fixed in any tangible form qualifies for copyright protection. A rough sketch of a sculpture on a napkin, a preliminary blueprint, a detailed mold or a photographic image of a sculpture fulfills the minimal qualifications for automatic copyright protection. Optional federal copyright registration of a sculpture, such as a visual work of art, provides additional benefits. Federal copyright registration creates a legal presumption of ownership rights, access to the federal courts for infringement claims and general public notification throughout the nation.

Step 1

Fix the sculpture in a tangible form. Sketch the sculpture before it is created and photograph it after it is completed. Register the sculpture as a stand-alone sculpture or as part of a collection. A stand-alone sculpture can be registered as a single visual work. More than one sculpture can be registered as a collection of unpublished or published works.

Step 2

Visit the United States Copyright Office website to review the registration procedures. Start with which works are protected. A sculpture qualifies for copyright protection under the visual arts category, as pictorial, graphic and sculptural works.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now

Step 3

Organize sketches or photographs of the sculpture to submit with the application. Deposit a complete copy of the images that best captures all the copyrightable content of the sculpture. Review the United States Copyright Office Circular 40A on "Deposit Requirements for Registration of Claims to Copyright in Visual Arts Material."

Step 4

Verify that the complete copy is in pristine condition and undamaged. The complete copy should capture every aspect of the sculpture and from each angle. Include close-up images of specific details in the sculpture.

Step 5

Select the best edition of the art work available prior to the date of deposit. For sculptures, the best edition refers to the best sketches or photographs of the sculpture. In general, the best edition refers to the largest format available, such as one that is in color, as opposed to black and white, and printed on high-quality archival paper.

Step 6

Follow the specifications for identifying material required for three-dimensional sculptures. The term identification material specifically refers to the two-dimensional drawings, transparencies or photographs that you will submit to represent the sculpture. These two-dimensional images should be at least 3-by-3-inches and no larger than 9-by-12-inches.

Step 7

Include the title and dimensions of the sculpture on at least one piece of identifying material. The title must appear on the front, back or mount of the identifying material. Add the exact dimensions of the art work next to the title.

Step 8

Select the correct registration form, based on your filing preferences. Use form CO to file an online application through the Electronic Copyright Office, upload digital photos and receive an online confirmation of application.

Step 9

Alternatively, submit a paper application through the mail, using the Visual Art Form VA or Short Form VA. Keep in mind that the paper process costs more and takes longer.

Step 10

Complete the copyright registration application. Include the title of the work, name and address of the author, type of work authored, and year of creation and publication. Provide your contact information, sign the application and pay the registration fee.

Step 11

Send the identification material to the Copyright Office, if you have not uploaded it during the online application process.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now
How to Copyright a Jingle



Related articles

How to File a Copyright Application With the U.S. Copyright Office

As the author of an original creative work, you automatically acquire basic copyrights as soon as you create the work and fix it in a tangible form. A tangible form refers to physical documentation, from a pencil drawing on a cocktail napkin to a first draft of a screenplay or an audiovisual recording of an opera. When you file a copyright application, you claim ownership of the material. Once the copyright office processes your application, it makes your copyright registration information public through its federal database of U.S. copyrights. Copyright registration requires a certified application, filing fee and deposit of the original material.

How Rappers Copyright Their Work

Rappers, producers and record labels need to protect their hip-hop music, rap lyrics and musical beats from unauthorized use, including sampling by other artists. A rapper or producer automatically secures a copyright in both the lyrics and the beat of a rap once it is created and fixed in a tangible form. Tangible forms include written song lyrics, sheet music and audio-visual recordings. Copyrights apply to both scripted lyrics with keyboard beats produced in a studio and improvisational raps with spontaneous instrumentals created live. However, a live performance must be captured in a tangible form to secure a copyright. Federal copyright registration provides a legal presumption of copyright ownership.

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.

Related articles

How to Copyright Printed Music Ideas

As a songwriter, musician, composer or producer, you own basic copyrights in your musical compositions, instrumentals, ...

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 ...

How to Get a Play Copyrighted

A play qualifies for copyright protection, typically as a literary work and performing art. However, several broad ...

How to Copyright Your Comic Creations

Comic creations feature an abundance of copyrightable matter, including detailed art work, unique graphics and creative ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED