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How do you register copyrights for computer programs?

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Quick Answer

As of 2015, the computer program creator must submit a copyright registration application online or mail forms to the United States Copyright Office, submit the $30 application fee and deposit a copy of the work, according to FindLaw. Most applicants complete Form TX for computer program copyright registrations, but some complete Form PA to protect audiovisual contents, such as games. If sending the registration application by mail, the computer program creator should send it by registered or certified mail.

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Full Answer

Copyright registration processing may take up to eight months for e-filing and up to 13 months for paper forms, advises the United States Copyright Office. Alternatively, under special handling provisions, the United States Copyright Office sometimes issue registrations within three weeks, explains Morris, Manning and Martin, LLP. Specific circumstances apply to provide this service, including prospective litigation, customs issues and deadlines related to contracts or publishing. The basic fee of $30 applies in addition to the $700 special handling fee.

Technically, a copyright automatically applies when the programmer creates the computer program, but numerous advantages exist to registering the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, notes Morris, Manning and Martin, LLP. For example, copyright registration provides legal proof of ownership. Additionally, filing a copyright infringement suit is possible only if the owner formally registered the copyright prior to filing the lawsuit.

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