How to Get a Copyright on an Idea


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People naturally want to protect great ideas. The U.S. Copyright Office provides guidance for people who want to protect their intellectual property in the form of ideas. The process takes a bit more work than having a thought, but is well worth the extra effort if the idea is worth copyrighting.

Step 1

Record your idea in writing or in a drawing. Once you have your idea recorded on paper, you are on track to protect your intellectual property. Without documentation, if a legal issue should arise, you cannot prove that the idea is yours and that you had it first.

Step 2

File a separate claim to copyright for each documented idea. If you file your claim online through the U.S. Copyright Office, the fee ($35) is less than filing through the mail and processing time is speedier. Read all information that the office recommends before filing your claim to copyright.

Step 3

Order or print U.S. Copyright forms and instructions from the U.S. Copyright Office website. (See Resources section) This is the more expensive method ($45), but may be necessary if you do not have a credit or debit card to pay online.

Step 4

Provide a copy of the documented idea. If you file online, at the time you file, you may attach an e-copy of your work. However, the Library of Congress will require a "best copy" of your work and that must be a hard copy. (See Resources for link to information about "best edition.")

Step 5

Package documents appropriately for government security requirements. Non-paper items should be sent in a box rather than a envelope. Such media includes, but is not limited to, cassettes, CDs and photographs. These can be damaged during security procedures.


About the Author

Alyson Paige has a master's degree in canon law and began writing professionally in 1998. Her articles specialize in culture, business and home and garden, among many other topics.

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