Protect your work. Most people have a difficult time distinguishing between a trademark, patent and a copyright. This particular post deals with copyrights. Copyrights are designed to protect "original works of authorship." Copyrightable works are viewed in broad categories and include literary works, musical works, dramatic works, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings and architectural works. Computer programs and most "compilations" may be registered as "literary works"; maps and architectural plans may be registered as "pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works."
Copyright Secured Automatically Upon Creation
Copyright protection is secured automatically once the work is created. No publication or registration or other action in the Copyright Office is required to secure a copyright. There are, however, certain definite advantages to registrating your copyright with U.S. Copyright Office.
Register Your Copyright
The best way to avoid unnecessary lawsuits to protect your copyright is to register it with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration will establish a public record of the copyright. Also, should you need to file suit to protect your copyright registration will allow you to enforce your copyright under Federal copyright laws which allow you to recover statutory damages and attorney's fees if you prevail in a lawsuit. Registration may be made at any time within the life of the copyright.
To register a work, send in the same envelope or package: 1) a completed application form; 2) a nonrefundable filing fee of $30 for each application; and 3) a nonreturnable deposit of the work being registered to Library of Congress Copyright Office, 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20559-6000.
The deposit requirements vary in particular situations. The general requirements follow are that 1) if the work was first published in the United States before January 1, 1978, send two complete copies or phonorecords of the work as first published; 2) if the work was first published outside the United States, send one complete copy or phonorecord of the work as first published; 3) if sending multiple works, all applications, deposits, and fees should be sent in the same package; and 4) if possible, applications should be attached to the appropriate deposit. Whenever possible, number each package (e. g., 1 of 3, 2 of 4) to avoid confusion in processing.
For more information, contact the U.S. Copyright Office at http://www.copyright.gov.