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Copyright law protects original works of authoriship (i.e. you created it) when the original work is "fixed in tangible form" (not just an "idea").

Copyright applications are a way to register your work so that if anyone infringes the work, you can file an action for copyright infringement in federal court.

Without the copyright registration or application you cannot file to protect your work. If too much time passes, you may be barred from bringing any action forever. We provide some general information about copyrights below.

Filing a copyright online has never been easier. You can use our simple one page form, and if your work is in digital form you can submit it to us electronically.

We'll do the rest! Even if your work is in printed or tangible form, once you submit your request, we will provide you with a mailing address to send a copy of your work for submission with your copyright application.


Copyright Registration

In 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, go to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website at Click on “Intellectual Property Rights.”

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.

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