Do I have to register my copyright?

Glenn W. Peterson

You probably are aware of what a copyright is and how it can protect your creative works. However, many people in California do not understand the details of the protection and how it is acquired. According to the Unites States Copyright Office, you gain copyrights as soon as your work is in “fixed form,” which means it has been written down, recorded or otherwise put into a tangible form. You do not have to do anything to secure these rights, including registering your copyright.

However, registration of a copyright is an important step to take to secure all your rights and to fully take advantage of the legal protection available. If you register, you can file a lawsuit in federal court for any infringements or illegal use of your work. In addition, your copyright will be recorded and can be searched for in the Office’s database. You may also then register with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent copies of your work from being imported into the country.

To register a copyright, you need to submit an application and fees, along with a deposit, which is a copy of the work. There are strict guidelines for how to submit your application package and what you must include as a deposit. It is important to include all the proper information and the correct type of deposit so your application is accepted. The Office will record the date of registration as the date when it receives all the required information. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.