Register Your Own Works

Now that the Yearbook Club has completed its CD-ROM yearbook, they are wondering if they need to register the copyright in the yearbook with the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, D.C. in order to get copyright protection for the yearbook. Do they need to register it? How do they go about obtaining a registration?

The yearbook does not have to be registered to be protected by copyright. Under the current U.S. copyright laws, copyright protection is secured automatically when the work is "fixed" -- meaning when it is created and fixed in a tangible form and can be seen, reproduced or otherwise communicated for more than a transitory or temporary time. So, if you do not need to register your work in order for copyright to exist, why bother to register?

Why Register- There are a number of important advantages you get when you register the copyright in your work.

  1. You must register before you can commence a lawsuit against someone who is infringing your copyright (that is, doing something with the work that requires your okay that you haven't given).
  2. If you are involved in a lawsuit involving your work, the registration, by itself, is enough to prove the validity of your copyright and the facts that are included in the registration. Therefore, unless the other side in the lawsuit can prove otherwise your registration is deemed good evidence by the court.
  3. If you are successful in a lawsuit against an infringer of your copyright, certain remedies are available to you only if you registered the work before the infringement occurred.
  4. By registering your copyright, you are making a public record of the fact you own the copyright and are putting people on notice that you are claiming copyright in the particular work.

So, once you've determined you want to register the copyright in your work, how do you do it? Don't worry. It's easy.

How To Register Your Copyright: To apply for registration of your copyright, you will need to complete a short form that you can get from the Copyright Office. You can even get the form online, with instructions on how to complete it, from Copyright Office site. Click here for links to Copyright Office Registration Forms and Copyright Office Registration Procedures pages. There are a number of different forms, so it is important that you use the correct form. For your multimedia CD-ROM yearbook, you would use the PA form. This form is used for all multimedia works, video discs, motion pictures and other performing arts works. Other forms are VA (for artwork, photographs and other works of the visual arts), TX (for non-dramatic literary works, including computer programs), SR (for sound recordings) and SE (for periodicals). The information requested is basically the same for each form. The instructions on the form will specify exactly what information is needed for each entry and the Copyright Office Registration Procedures should answer any other questions you may have.

Once you complete the application form, all you need to do is mail the completed form, two copies of the work and a registration fee of $35.00 or $45.00 to Register of Copyrights, Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20559-6000. Within about 16 weeks you'll receive in the mail your official copyright certificate from the Copyright Office. Click here to see a picture of what your Copyright Certificate will look like.

Congratulations, you are now the proud creator of a registered work of copyright!