Learn how to copyright your intellectual property, including the hows, whys, and whens of the process.

According to copyright law, you hold the copyright as soon as you produce your item (music, literature, plays and films, artworks, etc.). This implies that both published and unpublished works are protected by copyright law, however the eligibility of published works varies. You do not need to take any action to be protected by copyright law, whether your work is published or unpublished; even unregistered works are protected. Nonetheless, there are certain benefits to registering your copyright with the copyright office:

It creates a public record of the copyright claim; it makes it easier for others to find and acknowledge your work; it serves as a prerequisite for filing an infringement lawsuit in court; and it allows you to claim statutory damages and attorney fees if you register the work within three months of publication or before infringement occurs (ex: bootleg DVDs)

In rare situations, you may register several works as a collection under a single application, such as if the works were first published as a collection.

You may file your work online with the copyright office for a $35 cost, or you can register it by sending a Form CO and a non-returnable copy of your work, along with a $50 fee. Remember that even if you register online, the Library of Congress will still want physical copies of your “best edition” of your work.

Hard copies and paper applications should be sent to the Library of Congress U.S. Copyright Office, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC, 20559.

Include the zip code extension that pertains to your job for speedier claim filing:

6222 for literary work, 6211 for visual arts work, 6233 for performing arts work, and 6238 for motion picture or other audiovisual work.
6226 for a single serial number
6601 for works submitted in response to a required deposit notification

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