Copyrights are the easiest intellectual property to register. On the other hand, patents and trademarks necessitate expertise which may require the assistance of an intellectual property professional, especially patents.
  
What types of works could be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office? Literary works, musicals works and lyrics, dramatic works, pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, sound recordings and other digital media, and architectural works may be registered.

What may not be copyrighted? Works NOT fixed in a medium, facts, ideas, dates, names, short phrases, U.S. government documents, and works that have fallen into the public domain may not be copyrighted. However, some of these works may qualify for trademarks or patents.

Your intellectual expressions are copyright protected as soon as the work is in a fixed medium, e.g. paper or digital.  Copyright begins as the moment of creation and subsists for the life of the author plus 70 years.

Although one need not register their copyrighted works with the Copyright Office, there are legal advantages to do so. Registration establishes a public record of copyright claim. Before a copyright holder may file an infringement suit in court, registration is necessary. It also allows the copyright owner to record the registration with the U.S. Customs Service for protection against importation of infringing copies, e.g. fake or counterfeit copies.  

How does one register their copyrighted works? Go to www.copyright.gov.

  • View section entitled: How to Register a Work.
  • Registration establishes public record of copyright claim.
  • Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U.S. origin.
  • Online catalog copyright entries are searchable from January 1978 to the present.
  • To register copyright, go to https://www.copyright.gov/eco/ for an online form. 

The current copyright cost is listed, along with directions. There are different forms for different types of works, e.g. TX for literary texts, SR for sound recordings, etc. For example, Form TX is used to register published or unpublished non-dramatic literary works, excluding periodicals or serial issues. Form TX includes a wide variety of works: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, textbooks, reference works, directories, catalogs, advertising copy, compilations of information, and computer programs. However, periodicals and serials would be registered with Form SE.

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