For the love of your business

How Do You Apply for Copyright Protection?

Business Litigation / Intellectual Property / Legal Agreements / Starting Your Business

Some businesses rely on their ability to create and sell or otherwise leverage their original works. Obtaining a copyright for those works is not just important, it can actually make or break the business by allowing the owner to pursue copyright violations aggressively. Getting a copyright is not difficult. It just takes a little time and money.

Many people believe no copyright exists unless a creative work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. This is not true. Any work created since 1978 is protected for the owner’s lifetime, plus another 70 years.

Obtaining a copyright, however, is a critical step in preventing others from infringing on your work and in enforcing your ownership rights. Without a copyright, you lose some protections for exclusive rights of copyright owners. You will also have a harder time in court if you have to bring a lawsuit to enforce your copyright.

By law, a copyright can protect many different types of creative expression, even if they are not published. Here are some examples of the types of works that can be protected under copyright law:

  • computer software and programs;
  • poetry, novels, and books;
  • movies and plays;
  • artistic displays, such as pictures and sculptures;
  • songs, including both the melody and the lyrics;
  • architectural design and maps.

Once you’ve decided to register your copyright to fortify the protection of your creative work, the process is straightforward. The first step is to complete an application, either online or in writing. For many works, the copyright office prefers to receive online applications. However, a few types of applications may only be submitted on paper.

If allowed, it is advisable to file online, as the filing fee is reduced. Also, online applications are processed more quickly, so you’ll receive your certificate in relatively short order.

Your application is not complete without a copy of your work. When you file your application, you’ll need to “deposit” a copy of the work you wish to register. You’ll also have to submit the filing fee, which is $35 for most basic registrations. Once your application is complete, the U.S. Copyright Office will issue a registration certificate.

Applying for a copyright may seem intimidating, but the process is relatively simple and can provide added protection for your business interests. Savvy business owners who want to be proactive in protecting their business interests can also work to develop a relationship with a trusted  Creative Business Lawyer®, one who will become a valuable part of your team, providing the quality legal advice you need to be successful.


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