Sunday, June 16, 2013

Registering Copyright, a Guide by Me (Mostly Intended for Self-Published Authors)

One of the things I did at my old job was register copyright of all our titles. Since I became an agent, this has become mostly useless information in my head. But the other day I saw a website offering to register your copyright for $120 for application, plus filing fee.  (The filing fee is $35.) I was shocked.

So in the interest of saving you money, I am providing this basic tutorial on how to use the US Copyright website to register the copyright of your book. I'm a big fan of saving money, even if it's not mine.

Here's what it will cost: 1) Your Time (lots of clicking "continue"), 2) cost of deposit copies of work (see "Other Notes" below), and  3) the $35 filing fee.

Here's what it won't cost: $120. 

Please note: You do NOT need to do this if your book is unpublished or if it is being published by a large publisher (most publishing contracts make this the publisher's job).

Also know that US copyright law allows for some copyright protection the moment the work is set in a "fixed tangible form" that is, the moment you wrote or typed it up. Copyright registration is really just a nice thing to have most of the time. However, it is something you need to provide if there is any litigation based on your work, or (more happy circumstance) if a major motion picture studio wants to buy the rights to it.

Details one using the electronic copyright office (eCO) below the cut: