A step-by-step guide to U.S. copyright registration for self-published authors

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With the perceived risk among writers of copyright infringement so extremely high, it’s no wonder self-publishers are increasingly concerned about making sure their work is copyrighted.

Copyright exists from the moment the work is created, “without any action taken by the author, the moment it is fixed in a tangible form so that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.”

Many self-publishing service companies now offer copyright services, but you don’t need to use them. While they charge up to $150 for the service, it costs only $35 to easily do it yourself.

In reality, though, you might not even need to register a copyright. U.S. copyright law states that copyright exists from the moment the work is created, “without any action taken by the author, the moment it is fixed in a tangible form so that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.”

You don’t even have to put a copyright notice on your work, though it does ward off potential word thieves.

You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work.

In case you anticipate a lawsuit, or just want that extra protection, here’s how to register for $35, in about 35 steps, as it so happens, and coincidentally, it took me about 35 minutes, too.

Note that while this example pertains specifically to authors, you can register works of visual arts, performing arts, sound recordings, and single serials at the same website.

I wrote a complete, step-by-step guide to this process for MediaShift. Go take a look and follow along. 

 

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