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Copyright Application Process

Application for registration of a copyright in a work of authorship is governed by laws, rules and procedures of the United States Copyright Office.  Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim the copyright.  The way in which copyright protection is secured is frequently misunderstood. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure the copyright. There are, however, certain definite advantages to registration.

Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. "Copies" are material objects from which a work can be read or visually perceived either directly or with the aid of a machine or device, such as books, manuscripts, sheet music, film, videotape, or microfilm. "Phonorecords" are material objects embodying fixations of sounds (excluding, by statutory definition, motion picture soundtracks), such as cassette tapes, CDs, or LPs. Thus, for example, a song (the "work") can be fixed in sheet music ("copies") or in phonograph disks ("phonorecords"), or both. If a work is prepared over a period of time, the part of the work that is fixed on a particular date constitutes the created work as of that date.

To register a work, the following three elements in the same envelope or package are sent to:
Library of Congress
Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20559-6000

  • A properly completed application form.
  • A nonrefundable filing fee for each application.
  • The deposit requirements vary in particular situations. The general requirements follow. Also note the information under "Special Deposit Requirements."
    • If the work was first published in the United States on or after January 1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the best edition.
    • If the work was first published in the United States before January 1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the work as first published.
    • If the work was first published outside the United States, one complete copy or phonorecord of the work as first published.
If sending multiple works, all applications, deposits, and fees should be sent in the same package. If possible, applications should be attached to the appropriate deposit. Whenever possible, number each package (e.g., 1 of 3, 2 of 4) to facilitate processing.
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