What Is the Best Way to Register a Copyright?


Quick Answer

The U.S. Copyright Office classifies its online application as the best manner for filing a copyright registration. This method offers a lower filing cost, faster processing and the ability to track registration status, as explained on the agency's website.

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What Is the Best Way to Register a Copyright?
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Full Answer

To register online, individuals must complete an application and pay the registration fee with a credit card, according to the U.S. Copyright Office. The site allows applicants to upload an electronic copy of their work, but the agency may eventually require an additional hard copy.

The U.S. Copyright Office also accepts registrations by mail. Individuals must submit a completed application, a copy of the work to be registered and a nonrefundable registration fee in the same envelope, as instructed on the agency's website. With this method, the applicant receives no receipt of acknowledgement. The agency only initiates contact if additional information is necessary for processing or when the certificate of registration is completed.

Many individuals choose to use a lower cost method of filing, known as the poor man's copyright. The process entails mailing a copy of the work to oneself and leaving it in the unopened envelope. The postmark acts as a copyright date. This method offers limited legal protection and is not considered a valid registration, advises the U.S. Copyright Office.

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