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How to Apply For a Copyright
From your U.S. Gov Info/Resources Guide

Registering a copyright makes it easier to prove your ownership of works of art, literature, music, software, etc.

Time Required: 1 Hour

Here's How:
  1. Make sure what you want to copyright is your original work of art, literature, poetry, music, multi-media, computer software, etc. See the U.S. Copyright Office Web site.
  2. Visit the U.S. Copyright Office Web site to determine the exact category of your work and for detailed information. (See Related Features for links.]
  3. Either contact the U.S. Trademark Office to request an application form or download one from their Web site. (See Related Features for links.]
  4. Complete the application.
  5. Mail the completed application and a copy of the work to be copyrighted along with a $20 filing fee to the U.S. Copyright Office.
  6. The Copyright office will send you a certificate of registration in from 6 - 8 months.


  1. A copyright protects only the physical expression of a work. It does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation.
  2. Names, like company or organization names, names of performing groups, or names of people cannot be copyrighted.
  3. Copyrights remain in effect for the lifetime of the certificate holder plus 70 years unless renewed.

Related Information:

More How To's from your Guide to U.S. Gov Info/Resources

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