How to Publish and Copyright a Poem

By Michael Butler

If you are a poet, you establish copyright protection for your poem as soon as you write it down. This protection gives you the exclusive right to publish, distribute and copy your poetry. For extra protection, including the right to sue and collect damages from someone who infringes your copyright, you can formally register your copyright with the United States Copyright Office. This can be done before or after you publish your poem.

Step 1

Obtain copyright registration forms from the United States Copyright Office or an online legal services company such as LegalZoom.

Step 2

Fill in the forms. The exact steps depend on which forms you use. In most cases, you will need to provide your name, address, the title of your poem and the date it was created. Sign the forms.

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Step 3

Submit the completed forms to the U.S. Copyright Office with two copies of your poem and remit the current registration fee. You can mail the forms or file online through the Copyright Office or an online legal document service.

Step 4

Publish your poem. You can publish your poetry on your own blog or website, in a self-published book or by arrangement with a traditional publishing house.

Step 5

Include a copyright notice on your published work. The copyright notice consists of the copyright symbol (the letter “c” within a circle) followed by a space, the year in which you published the work, another space, and the name under which you registered the copyright. For example: © 2012 Bill Smith.

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How to Apply for a Copyright
 

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A screenplay is the written script of a film and it is automatically protected by copyright from the moment you write it down. You are no longer required to place a copyright notice on your work to gain this protection; nevertheless, a properly formatted copyright notice on your screenplay identifies you as the creator of the work and notifies the public that you are actively protecting your work. If anyone tries to publish your screenplay without your permission or claims it as his own, a copyright notice will make it difficult for that person to argue in court that your copyright was infringed unintentionally.

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Poems enjoy automatic copyright protection the moment you record them in a tangible form, such as writing them down on paper or typing them into a word processing program and saving the file to your computer’s hard drive. You are not required to formally register your poems with the U.S. Copyright Office, but doing so is important because it will give you legal standing to sue any third parties who infringe upon your work.

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A copyright protects an original musical work from unlicensed reproduction, sale or copying. Copyright protection exists in a musical work from the moment it is created in a tangible form. Although registration with the United States Copyright Office is not required by law, it is recommended as a method of establishing a permanent record of your creative work. Title 17 of the United States Code sets out the laws relating to copyright in the Copyright Act of 1976, as amended.

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