Obtaining Copyright Ownership
Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
- reproduce the copyrighted work
- produce derivative works based on the copyrighted work
- perform the copyrighted work publicly
- display the copyrighted work publicly
Once a work exists in a fixed and tangible form, that work has copyright protection and the author of that work is the copyright holder. Examples of a work in "fixed and tangible form" broadly include:
- literary works
- musical works (sound recordings or sheet music)
- dramatic works
- pantomimes and choreographic works (that have been notated or recorded)
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
- motion pictures
- sound recordings
- architectural works
Since copyright is automatically secured upon the creation of the work, it is not required to register the copyrighted work with the U.S. Copyright Office. However, there are definitely advantages to publishing and registering the work. Simply stated, copyright registration is a legal formality which establishes a public record of the copyright claim. This public record is required if the copyright owner seeks royalties or would like to challenge the claim in court.
*It is a requirement to register any published work in the United States with the Copyright Office within 3 months of publication.
For further information, please visit the U.S. Copyright Office.
Ensure that your work is in a fixed and tangible form.
Include a copyright notice on the material such as - ©2006 John Doe
Include in a package:
the appropriate completed application form
a $30 payment to "Register of Copyrights."
non-returnable copy(ies) of the material to be registered. There are deposit requirements. Please visit the U.S. Copyright Office for complete details.
Mail the package to:
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
Your registration becomes effective on the day that the Copyright Office receives your application, payment, and copy(ies) in acceptable form. If your submission is in order, you will receive a certificate of registration in 4 to 5 months. (You will not be notified that your application has been received.)