Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How to Secure a Copyright

HOW TO SECURE A COPYRIGHTCopyright Secured Automatically upon CreationThe way in which copyright protection is secured is frequently misunderstood. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. There are, however, certain definite advantages to registration. See "Copyright Registration." Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. "Copies" are material objects from which a work can be read or visually perceived either directly or with the aid of a machine or device, such as books, manuscripts, sheet music, film, videotape, or microfilm. "Phonorecords" are material objects embodying fixations of sounds (excluding, by statutory definition, motion picture soundtracks), such as cassette tapes, CDs, or LPs. Thus, for example, a song (the "work") can be fixed in sheet music (" copies") or in phonograph disks (" phonorecords"), or both.If a work is prepared over a period of time, the part of the work that is fixed on a particular date constitutes the created work as of that date.
COPYRIGHT REGISTRATIONIn general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright. However, registration is not a condition of copyright protection. Even though registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registration. Among these advantages are the following: Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin.If made before or within 5 years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.If registration is made within 3 months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies. For additional information, request Publication No. 563 "How to Protect Your Intellectual Property Right," from: U.S. Customs Service, P.O. Box 7404, Washington, D.C. 20044. See the U.S. Customs Service Website at for online publications. Registration may be made at any time within the life of the copyright. Unlike the law before 1978, when a work has been registered in unpublished form, it is not necessary to make another registration when the work becomes published, although the copyright owner may register the published edition, if desired.

Original Registration
To register a work, send the following three elements in the same envelope or package to:
Library of Congress
Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue,
S.E.Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
A properly completed application form.
A nonrefundable filing fee of $30 for each application. NOTE: Copyright Office fees are subject to change. For current fees, please check the Copyright Office Website at, write the Copyright Office, or call (202) 707-3000.
A nonreturnable deposit of the work being registered. The deposit requirements vary in particular situations.
The general requirements follow. Also note the information under "Special Deposit Requirements." If the work was first published in the United States on or after January 1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the best edition.
If the work was first published in the United States before January 1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the work as first published.If the work was first published outside the United States, one complete copy or phonorecord of the work as first published.
If sending multiple works, all applications, deposits, and fees should be sent in the same package. If possible, applications should be attached to the appropriate deposit. Whenever possible, number each package (e. g., 1 of 3, 2 of 4) to facilitate processing.
Love and Laughter,
Margaret Riley
A. K. A. Shelby Morgen
Changeling Press LLC

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