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How to apply for copyright

Lisa Moore
Lisa Moore

Q: How does one apply for copyright?

A: Lisa Moore, Principal, The Moore Firm, LLC:

“It’s very easy to apply for a copyright registration. You can do it online. The Copyright Office’s website is actually an excellent resource.

The process is changing. Back in the day, you had to fill out the form depending on what you were registering. The Copyright Office changed that, and they’re now utilizing one common form that can be done online. It’s much cheaper that way, $35 and you get your registration back much more quickly. If you mail in the old paper forms it takes somewhere between a year and two years to get it back, but if you do it online it’s somewhere between three and six months. Copyright infringement matters have a very short statute of limitations, so it’s critically important that you register as soon as possible.

In the overwhelming majority of jurisdictions in the United States, if you don’t have a registration back from the U.S. Copyright Office you cannot institute litigation. There are only a handful of jurisdictions where simply having made application, even though you don’t have the filed, stamped registration back, they will allow you to invoke the jurisdiction of the courts.

The other benefit of doing it early is that you can register multiple unpublished works on one form and save yourself a lot of money. The copyright form in and of itself is about nine questions and half of them are your name and address. It’s very easy to do.”