Copyrighting Your Writing

Have you wondered what the advantage of registering your manuscript with the U. S. Copyright office are?

What is a copyright?

According to the U. S. Copyright Office, Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. An original work of authorship is a work that is independently created by a human author and possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity. A work is “fixed” when it is captured (either by or under the authority of an author) in a sufficiently permanent medium such that the work can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated for more than a short time. Copyright protection in the United States exists automatically from the moment the original work of authorship is fixed.

So, what does this mean?

Your work is copyrighted the moment it is “fixed” and it does not have to be registered with the U. S. Copyright Office. Registration is voluntary.

Then why should I register my work with the U. S. Copyright Office? Registering your work gives it legal protection that it does not otherwise have. Should you be involved in litigation, and that litigation is successful, you may be able eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees if your work has been registered with the U. S. Copyright office.

Registering Your Work with the Copyright Office

When registering a work for copyright, there are several forms you may choose from.

The Standard Application

Electronic Filing Fee:  $65.00

With this application, you may register:

A Literary Work,

A Work of the Visual Arts

A Sound Recording

A Work of the Performing Arts

A Motion Picture/AV Work

A Single Serial Issue[1]

The Single Application

Electronic Filing Fee: $45

“The Single Application is a simplified online registration option for registering claims in one work by a single author (not made for hire) who is also the sole owner of all rights in the work (i.e., no rights may have been transferred to another person or entity). It is a registration accommodation that is only available for claims that meet the Office’s eligibility requirements.”

You may use it to register one work, such as one photograph, one short story, one poem or one song. You may not use it to register multiple items, such as an anthology or collection of short stories. All of the material must have been created by one individual. It is not meant for registering work for hire.

The Group Application for Unpublished Works

Electronic Filing Fee:  $65.00

All works submitted with this application must be unpublished. With this application, you may submit up to ten works. All works must be the same type, for example ten poems or ten short stories, not five poems and five songs.

Group Registration of Photographs (Published or Unpublished)

Electronic Filing Fee: $55

If you are a writer who also takes photographs that you use in your writing, you may what to register them with the Copyright Office. Register up to 750 photographs. The photographs in the group must all be published or all be unpublished; you cannot mix published with unpublished.


U. S. Copyright Registration Portal

General Website

Informational PDF Information on the Single and Standard Applications

Complete Listing of Fees for copyright registration, recordation and other services

Standard Application Help (Author) – Written Instructions

Video Tutorials

Single Application Video Tutorial

Group Registration of Unpublished Works Video Tutorial

Standard Application Video Tutorial

Group Registration of Unpublished Photographs Video Tutorial

You may register up to 750 photographs

Group Registration of Published Photographs Video Tutorial

You may register up to 750 photographs