How Do You Copyright Something?


Quick Answer

Creators of an original work don't have to do anything to copyright it, because by law, a work is copyright protected as soon as it is put into tangible form, states the U.S. Copyright Office. Creators can register copyrighted works by submitting an application form with a copy of the work.

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Full Answer

The moment a type of intellectual property such as a novel, movie, song, computer software or other form of original expression is fixed into a tangible medium, including an electronic medium read by a machine or device, copyright law protects it, even if it has not yet been published, according to the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration is not necessary to ensure copyright, but it is useful if the work is infringed and the creator wants to file a lawsuit. Registration puts the copyright details on public record, provides the creator with a copyright certificate usable in a court of law and allows the creator to seek attorney's fees and statutory damages in copyright infringement litigation.

Creators of original works can file for copyright registration online or by downloading and mailing application forms, advises the U.S. Copyright Office. Those filing for copyright registration must pay a fee and send one or more copies of the work to the Library of Congress. The United States has reciprocal copyright agreements with most countries in the world.

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