Poetry Copyright Laws

By Josh Shear
The copyright rules that govern literary works cover poetry.
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Poetry is protected by copyright laws that cover various forms of literary works. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, individual poems may be copyrighted, or a collection of poems may be copyrighted as a single work. Copyright protections are the same whether the author registers multiple poems individually or as a collected work.

Creating a Copyrighted Poem

When a poem is written, a copyright is created for it, and the author may include a copyright mark ("c" in a circle) with the poem. The same is true for a collection of poetry: the author may use a copyright mark to govern the entire collection. However, it is difficult to defend a copyright without first registering the poem or collection with the U. S. Copyright Office.

Length, or Term, of Copyright

In the case of an individual copyright owner, the copyright is in effect for 70 years past the author's death. If a poem or collection of poems was commissioned by an individual or organization (such as a publishing company), the copyright is in effect for 95 years after the work was first published or 120 years after it was first created, whichever comes first.

Registering a Copyright Online

To register a copyright for a poem or collection of poems online, go to the electronic Copyright Office (eCO) section of copyright.gov, pay the appropriate fee and upload the poem or collection of poems in a standard document format, such as pdf, doc or txt.

Registering a Copyright by Mail

To register a copyright for a poem or collection of poems by mail, fill out Form TX or replacement Form CO, include the appropriate fee and send two copies of the work to:

Library of Congress Copyright Office 101 Independence Ave., SE Washington, DC 20559-6000


About the Author

Josh Shear began writing professionally in 1999. He has been an editor at Reminder Publications and project coordinator at the daily online news site syracuse.com. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Western New England College, and took graduate courses in mass media theory at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.