The way copyright law is set up, as soon as you create your material (music, literature, plays and films, artworks, etc.) you own the copyright. This means that both published and unpublished works are covered by copyright law, though published works vary in eligibility for copyright protection. Whether your work is published or unpublished, you don’t have to take any action in order to be protected by copyright law; even unregistered works are protected. However, registering your copyright with the copyright office has certain advantages:

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  • it establishes a public record of the copyright claim
  • it makes it easier for others to find and acknowledge your work
  • it serves as a prerequisite for filing an infringement lawsuit in court
  • it enables you to claim statutory damages and attorney fees if you register the work within three months after publication or before infringement occurs
  • it protects against the importation of infringing copies (ex: bootleg DVDs)

In some cases, you can also register more than one work as a collection under a single application, such as if the works were originally published as a collection.

You can file online with the copyright office and pay a $35 fee, or you can register your work by submitting a Form CO and a non-returnable copy of your work along with a $50 fee. Keep in mind that if you register online, the Library of Congress still needs hard copies of a “best edition” of your work.

Submit your hard copies and paper applications to:
Library of Congress
U.S. Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington DC, 20559

For faster claim filing, add the zip code extension that applies to your work:

  • 6222 for literary work
  • 6211 for visual arts work
  • 6233 for performing arts work
  • 6238 for motion picture or other audiovisual work
  • 6237 for sound recording
  • 6226 for single serial issue
  • 6601 for works sent in response to a mandatory deposit notice

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