How Do I Get a Copyright and How Do I Register It?

A copyright is automatically created from the moment you produce an original work, as long as the work is “fixed” in some form – that is, written down or recorded.  For example, you obtain a copyright in your novel as soon as you write down a draft, and you obtain a copyright in your performance of a song as soon as you record it.  Nothing more is required. 

While works are copyrighted when created, additional steps are necessary to enjoy the full scope of benefits available to copyright owners.  The most important of those steps is registration. 

Registration confers a host of advantages, including: (i) a presumption of copyright ownership and validity, (ii) the ability to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement, and (iii) the availability of statutory damages and the recovery of attorneys’ fees.   

Registering a copyright is simple.  The easiest way is to use the United States Copyright Office’s online portal.  The registration process requires submission of an application form; a small fee ($35 or $55); and submission of copies of your work.  

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