Every original literary work may register for a copyright with the Library of Congress. This includes award winning novels, multimillion dollar movies, a large daily newspaper and other literary works. Literary works may be published or unpublished and include nondramatic textual works with or without illustrations. Computer programs and databases also are considered literary works. While copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright, and is not necessary for the work to have some level of copyright protection, there are certain legal advantages of having the registration, which an experienced lawyer can explain and discusss with the author.
You may register a copyright for an individual literary work or for serial works. The piece must be eligible for copyright in order to be registered. Submit Form TX or Short Form TX and Form CON, depending on the work. To register a group of issues at one time use Form SE/Group if all of the above are met and the issues are published at intervals of 1 week or longer and all of the submitted issues were published within a 3 month period and all within the past year.
When you register for a copyright you must also pay the applicable fee. The fee should be made payable to “Register of Copyrights” and for a single issue the fee is $45, for a group of issues you must pay $25 per issue.
Every application must also be accompanied by a copy of the work that is being registered. For single issues submit two copies or if you are submitting form SE/Group you must submit copies of two issues listed on the application. If you only publish your newsletter online you can submit a copy on a CD/DVD or a printed version of it.
When you have the application completed and the necessary copies, mail the package to: Library of Congress Copyright Office 101 Independence Avenue, S.E. Washington, D.C. 20559-6000. The copyright takes affect once the Library of Congress receives your package and you will receive a Certificate of Registration normally within 6 months.
Consult an attorney to determine whether your literary work is eligible for copyright protection and, if so, how best to obtain registration. Also, an attorney can help protect your rights should a third party attempt to infringe your copyright.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified intellectual property lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local intellectual property attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.