Obtaining Copyright Protection and Registering Works

Note: I am not an attorney. The following are generalizations only based on my study of copyright law and are not meant to be construed as legal advice. If you have a question, consult a competent attorney specializing in copyrights and intellectual property law.

Copyright -protection- is automatic. As soon as you create something, protection is immediately in force. You don't have to do anything further. It's protected.

Registration of copyright is a different matter.

It does not happen automatically. Contact the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress for the form.

It must be completed exactly and completely. Send the form, fee, and one copy of the work if published Jan. 1, 1978, or later. (If published before that date, send two copies.)

A few months later you will receive your registration, although your work is considered registered as soon as the Copyright Office receives the correct documents and fee.

Most authors put a "copyright notice" on their work. This should consist of the word "copyright" or the abbreviation "copr." plus the date and the author's name. You may use the copyright symbol in addition, but it is not required, nor does it substitute for the word or the abbreviation.

copyright 1996-2002, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.

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