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Steps and Procedures for Obtaining a Copyright

Once an author creates a work and fixes it in a tangible form, a copyright exists in the work. However, actually filing with the United States Copyright Office provides extra protection not available otherwise.

The process is straightforward. Applicants can choose to file via an online submission or in paper form. There are eight sections in the copyright application: 1) information about the work, 2) Author information, 3) Information the person claiming copyright, 4) Limitation of Copyright Claim, 5) Rights and Permission Contact, 6) correspondence contact, 7) Designation of where to mail the certificate to, and 8) Certification.

In the first section, the type of work being registered must be selected and the title of the work and year of completion must be given. Other information may be included, such as volume or issue number if the work is a serial issue, alternative titles, date of publication, and nation of publication.

In the second section, the author’s name or organization name must be listed. It can also be noted if the work was a work for hire or if the work is/was made under a pseudonym. It must also be noted again, but with more specificity, what type of work it is that is being registered. For example, some choices include a computer program, sculpture, photography, and lyrics.

The third section asks for personal information, such as address and contact information of the person or business claiming authorship.  The application also asks how copyright ownership was acquired and if the party claiming copyright is not the author. In that instance, the claimant may state that copyright was obtained by written agreement, will or inheritance, or other means.

The fourth section asks whether any material in the work was previously registered with the copyright office, previously published, or not owned by the claimant. If the work is entirely new, then the claimant need not fill out this section. However if the work contains other works, then the claimant must state what other works were used and must state what is the new material in the claim.

The fifth section simply asks for the contact information of a person/organization that the claimant wishes to be contacted if in the event another party seeks the rights or permissions related to the work.

The sixth and seventh sections are similar to the fifth. They only ask for the information of the person/organization that will receive correspondence regarding the copyright and where to mail the certificate of copyright ownership, respectively.

The final section is where the claimant will certify that no false representations were made and is able to make such an application for copyright over the work in question.


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