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How do I File a Copyright Application?

Felicia Dye
Felicia Dye

There are two ways to file an application with the United States (US) Copyright Office. You can fill out a printed application and send it through the mail or you can complete an online application. Know, however, that a completed copyright application, according to the Copyright Office's requirements, is more than a single form. You will also need a filing fee and a deposit.

The first thing you need to do is to decide whether you will file online or by way of mail. Before making your decision, consider that the online copyright application process is faster and cheaper. If you plan to file online, you need to go to the Copyright Office's website and look for the eCo link.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The eCO link will lead you to a screen where you will be asked to log in. Due to this, it is necessary for you to register first. Registration is a free and simple process, where you will create a user name and password in addition to providing a few personal details. After you have registered, you will be able to log in and complete the copyright application form. Be aware that if your work falls into a certain category, you will not be eligible to file on the Internet.

If you are planning to apply by way of mail, the best way to obtain the proper copyright application form is to go onto the Internet and download it. On the Copyright Office's website, you will find a link that says “Forms.” This will lead you to a screen where you can get your documents. Form CO is a generic document that can be used for the most common categories of works. Certain specialized works have specialized forms.

You can complete the form on your computer and then print it out. Remember that you will need white paper that is 8.5 x 11 inches (21.59 x 27.94 cm). The form should also be printed in black ink. When you send your printed copyright application, you will also need to send the filing fee in the form of a check or money order. Print applications are subject to higher filing fees than those those submitted online.

The third item you will need to complete your copyright application is your deposit. This is a sample of the work for which you are seeking protection. If your work is in a form that can be uploaded to the Internet, you can submit it in that fashion if you completed an electronic application form. If it cannot be uploaded or if you are mailing your copyright application, you will need to mail your deposit.

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