Register your freelance writing copyrights – Part 3 of 3


(this is part three of a three part series on freelance copyrights)

An email I received offering to save the soul of my work for cold cash was from one of hundreds of slightly off-center entrepreneurs trying to make a bunch of bucks from anything they can put into html code. Copyrighting your work is not hard to do.

Those nice guys on the ‘Net just wanted to help by filling out some copyright forms for me at a pretty high cost. If it’s worth it to you to save the few minutes it takes to register your copyrights, by all means, hire someone – in fact, I’d be pleased to take your cash.

Otherwise, read on to find out how easy it is to routinely register your writing.

Copyright tips

You might want to register your copyright on certain work:

  • Registration establishes a public record of your authorship and the copyright claim.
  • In the U.S. you can’t file an infringement suit until your copyright is registered.
  • Register within five years of publication and that registration is acceptable in court as proof of your claim and of the facts stated in your certificate.
  • You can register even after someone has stolen your work. Do it within three months after publication of the work or before an infringement and you may be able to collect additional damages and attorney fees in court.
  • Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies. For additional information, request Publication No. 563 “How to Protect Your Intellectual Property Right,” from: U.S. Customs Service, P.O. Box 7404, Washington, D.C. 20044. This information is from the U.S. Customs Service Website at and the Copyright Office.

Final copyrighting tips

This basic information was borrowed from the Copyright Office. Because it is the creation of a U.S. Government entity, it cannot be protected by copyright and I am free to use it in part or in whole.

Register Your Copyright on Tangible Works

To register a work by U.S. Mail, send the following three elements in the same envelope or package to:

Library of Congress

Copyright Office

101 Independence Avenue, S.E.

Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

  1. A properly completed application form.
  2. A nonrefundable filing fee of $30 for each application.
  3. A nonreturnable deposit (copy) of the work being registered.

The deposit requirements vary in particular situations:

  • If the work was first published in the United States on or after January 1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the best edition.
  • If the work was first published in the United States before January 1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the work as first published.
  • If the work was first published outside the United States, one complete copy or phonorecord of the work as first published.

If sending multiple works, all applications, deposits, and fees should be sent in the same package. If possible, applications should be attached to the appropriate deposit. Whenever possible, number each package (e. g., 1 of 3, 2 of 4) to facilitate processing.

What happens if the three elements are not received together?

Applications and fees received without appropriate copies, phonorecords, or identifying material will not be processed and ordinarily will be returned. Unpublished deposits without applications or fees ordinarily will be returned. In most cases, published deposits received without applications and fees can be immediately transferred to the collections of the Library of Congress. This practice is in accordance with section 408 of the law, which provides that the published deposit required for the collections of the Library of Congress may be used for registration only if the deposit is “accompanied by the prescribed application and fee….”

After the deposit is received and transferred to another service unit of the Library for its collections or other disposition, it is no longer available to the Copyright Office. If you wish to register the work, you must deposit additional copies or phonorecords with your application and fee.

eCO online systemelectronic copyright registration

File a copyright registration for your work through the Copyright Office online system. Advantages include:

  • Lower filing fee of $35 for a basic claim (for online filings only)
  • Fastest processing time
  • Online status tracking
  • Secure payment by credit or debit card, electronic check, or Copyright Office deposit account
  • The ability to upload certain categories of deposits directly into eCO as electronic files

Registration with downloaded fill-In form CO

The next best option for registering basic claims is the new fill-in Form CO. Using 2-D barcode scanning technology, the Office can process these forms much faster and more efficiently than paper forms completed manually. Simply complete Form CO on your personal computer, print it out, and mail it along with a check or money order and your deposit. The fee for a basic registration on Form CO is $45.

For more info:  This is part 3 of a series on freelance copyrights

Read Copyrights, part one

Read about copyrights, part 2

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