How Do You Register Your Copyright – A Systematic Approach
It is crucial that a copyright registration application be correctly completed before filing. Failing to correctly complete the form can be adverse effects in the validity if the copyright and the ability to stop other parties from using your copyrighted work.
At first blush, the application forms provided by the copyright office appears to be very simple to complete. The forms themselves are not extraordinarily complicated or lengthy. It is the decisions that must be made regarding what information is placed in those forms that can be complex.
In order to properly complete a copyright application, it is important to first collect all relevant information regarding the work to be copyrighted including all of the contents and components of the work and the methods and processes involved in creating the work. Information should also be collected concerning all parties, employees and outside parties, who played a role in the development process. From this information, crucial decision must be made regarding the completion of the application and what else may be required to properly complete the application.
It pays to be thorough in collecting this information. A checklist should be created of the items you should look for and marked off the list as this information is collected and as decisions are made regarding the contents of the application. It pays to be systematic and organized in your approach. Keep organized records of the steps you take and include any relevant documentation that you collect such as employment agreements, copyright assignments and other documentary evidence of how the work was created and how the rights to the work were obtained.
Select The Proper Copyright Form
There are several different registration forms that may be used depending on the nature of the work. Selecting the appropriate form is crucial to the validity of the copyright and can be one of the more complicated aspects of the process. This decision can be fairly complicated, especially where a work contains several different aspects. This is often the case in web and multimedia applications which often include numerous components which may include graphics, video, textual content, programs, databases, and other materials.
Determine Who Has The Right To Register A Copyright
You should determine from the facts that you develop about the development process and the individuals involved, who is the appropriate party to file the application or to otherwise be included on the copyright registration form. Generally, the author has the copyright and the right to file the registration. However, the author can assign this right to an owner. Determining who is the author in a given situation where a number of parties may be involved in the development process can be complicated. Also, determining whether the all rights have been appropriately assigned to the owner, including the right to register the copyright in the owner’s name.
In many cases, especially where an outside independent contractor is used for the development of the work, you may be surprised to learn that the developer actually owns the rights to all or a portion of the work depending on the contractual relationship that you had with the developer. Any questions about ownership should be clarified and appropriately documented before you prepare and file the copyright application.
Properly Completing Registration Forms
As discussed above, it is crucial to properly complete the registration form to assure the validity of your copyright.
The Copyright Office has several publications available to assist you. You may find these instructions to be confusing in which case you can always purchase a copyright guide that breaks down the steps involved into easier to understand basic steps.
Determining The Appropriate Archive Materials
Most works require you to include an archive copy of the work being copyrighted along with your application. It is important to determine the precise archive requirement for the type of work that you are registering. You need to comply with the archive copy requirements to the tee or your registration will be rejected.
Copyright Fees and Transmittal of Applications
Be sure to include the appropriate filing fee payment and form of payment with your application. Be sure that the registration application is sent to the appropriate address and include appropriate postage and copies. Make copies of your application for your records.
This is a general overview of the copyright registration process. Depending on the precise nature of your work and how it was created, filing a copyright registration may be fairly simple or it may be complicated.