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.