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  • Written by: Tom Maddrey, Maddrey PLLC

Copyright Registration Basics

Hi Creator! Welcome back to this weekly segment where we talk about legal and business issues that face creators. Previously, I discussed some basics on Copyright Law. I also mentioned registering your Copyright. Today, I am going to go into more detail on this process.

First, let me say that you can register your own Copyright. You don’t have to pay a lawyer to do it, or any kind of online company.

Now, we will be more than happy to take your money, and it’s not a bad idea to have a Copyright attorney take a look at your first or second registration to make sure you are answering the questions properly, but in general, this is designed to be a process you can do yourself.

As you recall, the first step is to go to In the upper left hand side of the page you will see Register a Copyright. Go ahead and click on that to get started.

Next, you will see six boxes describing different types of creative works. For the purposes of this blog, I am going to discuss 2-D visual arts (photography, painting, etc.). But the same general steps occur for sound recordings, scripts, books, databases, and all the other categories.

Once you click on your box, you will need to register with the Electronic Copyright Office. This one time step associates you with your registration account.

Next, you can “Register A New Claim.” There are lots of different options other than that one here, but for now we will only focus on the basic registration process.

Now the application will ask you a number of questions. Instead of going through each one here, I encourage you to check out this link and download the PDF.

Here, though, are a few points that can be tricky:

  1. You can register a bunch of works together as a collection for one fee. You can do this right online. When it says “Title of Work,” you should say something like “Spring Photographs 2017.”

  2. You need to pay careful attention to the “Publication Status” of the work. Ideally, you want to register your work BEFORE you publish it. NOTE that publish means even putting it on your website! Also, Published and Unpublished work cannot be registered on the same application. Be careful choosing the right option here…

  3. The Author and the Claimant are usually the same person if you made the work.

  4. Generally, you do NOT want Expedited Processing. It cost significantly more. You are protected from the submission of the application, even though it can take up to eight months to get your certificate.

I hope this brief guide helps you in registering. It is very important to register your Copyrights, and I suggest every creative do it every three months for all the work they have created!


Email Tom:

Phone Tom: 214-702-9862

Twitter: @MaddreyPLLC


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