Copyright Web Portal Online July 1st

Need to Copyright something? Come July 1st, all you have to do is get on the web to apply for the Copyright. This should make it quick and easy to apply.

The Library of Congress will be opening the portal so you can submit claims electronically. Filing online will save you $10 ($35 online), give you a registration date of when you file and online options like status of the copyright and ability to upload the materials.

It’s all part of an initiative to get services online. The portal was established 10 years ago with the idea being you can copyright items including movies and music faster so nobody tries to stake claim on your material. You can copyright literary works, visual arts works, performing arts works, sound recordings and single serials online. Other claims will be offered later, but for now you must submit via the old process.

Of course there are other ways to obtain a copyright, however they might be a little harder to dispute down the road. Creative Commons, for example, is a Massachusetts based website that lets you copyright while giving people the ability to copy and distribute work.

There is what some call the “Poor Man’s Copyright” where you put your work into a envelope, seal it and mail it to yourself. Do not open the mail until a time where your copyright is in question. You would then present the unopened mail at the inquiry as evidence of your copyright. The Postal date will serve as the copyright date.

This is a questionable practice because some have left the envelope unsealed, therefore the work could be inserted after the mail was sent. The best thing to do is have the work notarized. It would add to the authenticity of the copyright.

Protecting yourself from others that would try to take your work as their own is detrimental. Always obtain a dated copyright before submitting your work. You then have a reference if a dispute is raised.

The US Copyright Office handles over 550 thousand claims annually. The eCO hopes this new system will make copyrights quicker, easier and cheaper. I would guess it’s also so copyright applications will increase – a lot of material out there is not copyrighted.

Comments

  1. David Tallan says

    It may be worth mentioning that, since 1989, the US has become a signator of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. As such, copyright marks and copyright registration are no longer required. To quote from the Wikipedia article:

    “Under the Convention, copyrights for creative works are automatically in force upon their creation without being asserted or declared. An author need not “register” or “apply for” a copyright in countries adhering to the Convention. As soon as a work is “fixed”, that is, written or recorded on some physical medium, its author is automatically entitled to all copyrights in the work and to any derivative works, unless and until the author explicitly disclaims them or until the copyright expires”.

    If that’s the case, why register? Two reasons. (1) In the States, while you don’t need registration to have the rights provided by copyright, you do need it to collect statutory damages and attorney fees. (2) Since copyright applies from the moment a work is “fixed”, it is helpful to have some method of establishing that date, should the matter come up. Copyright registration, mailing the manuscript, etc. are means to prove that date. Anything that attaches a “date stamp” to the work will do. These don’t provide the copyright, however. That comes automatically. They just help to establish when it happens.