Saturday, August 12, 2006
by James Buchanan
Under title 17 of the United States Code, copyright protects you from unauthorized use of your work. Most countries have some variant of the copyright law and you need to check out your countries laws if you're not registering the work in the US. Title 17 applies to all original works, including: literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. The work doesnÂt have to have been published for you to register your copyright.
The moment you write your work on paper, you own the copyright to it. So what people actually mean is that you should register your copyright. Various reasons make it advantageous to register the copyright. Registration establishes a public record of your copyright and allows you to bring an infringement suit, if that becomes necessary. If you secure it before (or within five years) of publication, it pretty much seals your case* and if made within three months after publication you may be entitled to statutory damages and attorneyÂs fees (otherwise youÂd actually have to prove that you suffered monetary loss Â which can be a big hurdle).
Registration is actually very easy. The term of your copyright lasts for your life plus 70 years. YouÂll need the following:
A completed application. The PDF forms are easy and you can fill them out on line and print them out.
A check/money order for the filing fee. Current cost (as of August 12, 2006) is $45.00;
And a non-returnable deposit of the work. The deposit requirements depend on whether the work has already been published. If you havenÂt published the work yet youÂll need to submit one complete copy with the form and your check. If itÂs already been published then you need to send two complete copies of the best edition. They donÂt require anything fancy, just readable. Heck, the government will take a legible handwritten manuscript (although they do ask for ink). What they are primarily concerned with is that what you send them be suitable for long term storage. So good paper, and stapled or bound in some manner.
You can find everything you need right here:
*Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be a substiindividualizedvdualized legal advice. I'm probably not a lawyer in your state, and you're not my client. This article also applies to US Copyright only. You should check your own regions rules/regulations or seek the advice of a local attorney.