How to Copyright for Free

By eHow Contributor

The best way to protect your creativity – including things like writing, photos, and music – is with copyright. If you don't officially register, this is free.

The best way to protect your creativity – including things like writing, photos, music, and other creative output – is with copyright. If you don't officially register, this is absolutely free. You might need other intellectual property protection as well, but most copyright protections are free and automatic.

An Official Copyright is not Required

It's commonly misunderstood that you must register your creative work with the Copyright Office to receive a copyright, but this is not the case. From the moment you finish your creative work, it is copyrighted as yours. However, it is recommended that you register a copyright wit the Copyright Office since it establishes a record that you claimed the copyright.

Understanding What Constitutes a Copyright

Head to the U.S. Copyright Office's FAQs page. The Copyright Office is part of the Library of Congress. This is your best source of information. Understand what is protected by copyright. Many things are protected by copyright, including written materials, lyrics, music, software, photographs, drawings and websites. Things like names, titles, simple recipes, short phrases, and ideas are not protected by copyright law.

Registering a Copyright

Consider registering your copyrighted work. You can register for a modest fee. Registration serves as unambiguous documentation that your product was in existence at the date of copyright. If you ever get into a legal tussle over ownership, registration can be a huge help.

Other Things to Consider

Look for other means of protecting your intellectual property. Although many things are not covered by copyright, they can be protected by other means, usually through trademarks and patents.