How Do I Get a Copyright on Something I Have Written?

••• sign of the copyright, silver bevel symbol image by PaulPaladin from

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The intellectual property, or copyright, law doesn not require creators to do anything to enjoy copyright protection. A work you've written, whether it's a book, short story, poem, song, or any other form of intellectual property, is protected by copyright upon creation. Registering your work is voluntary and not registering doesn't affect your ownership of your work. Registering something you've written with the United States Copyright Office is a good idea because it provides you with a concrete way to prove copyright ownership should you ever need to file an infringement suit.

Visit the United States Copyright Office website and create an account by clicking on the electronic copyright office on the front of the website. You need to have an account to register a copyright. Your account is how you manage your copyright registrations. Once you've created an account, you can register your copyrights at your own pace. You don't have to complete registrations in one sitting. All of your work is saved automatically.

Complete a form for the work you want to register. Form completion is easy. Click the sections of the copyright form to the left of the work space to fill in the information needed to register your claim. This includes the type of work (short story, novel, etc), title of your work, the name of the copyright holder, whether the work has already been published or not and the address where you would like to have your registration mailed. Review your information before you continue.

Pay the registration fee online using the payment process provided by the United States Copyright Office. You can pay by credit card or electronic check. Once you've made your payment, your registration is complete and you will receive a registration certificate in the mail.


  • You can download the registration form and file a claim through the postal service, but the fee for doing so is higher than the fee for filing electronically.


  • Consider registering several pieces of writing under one title. This is a way to save money. You can register several pieces under one title, as a collection, for the same fee as registering a single piece of writing.


About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Photo Credits

  • sign of the copyright, silver bevel symbol image by PaulPaladin from