Everything You Need to Know About Registering for Copyright.

We chatted with the Assistant Section Head at the copyright office to get you the skinny on how to register your book of poems.

How to categorize your registration

A basic registration, using the online eCO system or a paper form, can be used to register one work. One poem, one book, one piece of music, etc. This can also include a “collective work.”

A book of poetry may be registered as a collective work, or compilation, as long as the work is assembled as such. The filing fee for a standard application using the eCO system is $65. Paper forms (Form TX) is $125.

In the case where unpublished poems are not assembled into a collective work or compilation, they may be registered individually or as part of a group registration. Group registrations for unpublished works (GRUW) are limited to 10 poems per application. The filing fee for GRUW is $85. In this situation, each poem in the group is individually examined, and individually protected when approved.

Registering for Copyright is not required

Under US Law (17 USC), copyright protection is secured from the moment the work is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Although registration is not required to enjoy copyright protection, there are some statutory benefits to registration.

A copyright application establishes the basic facts of a claim: the title of the work, the author of the work, the name and address of the claimant or owner of the copyright, the year of creation, whether the work is published, whether the work has been previously registered, and whether the work includes preexisting material. Once submitted to the Office, the application becomes part of the public record.

In addition to establishing a public record of a copyright claim, registration offers several other statutory advantages:

• Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration (or refusal) is necessary for U.S. works.

• Registration establishes prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and facts stated in the certificate when registration is made before or within five years of publication.

• When registration is made prior to infringement or within three months after publication of a work, a copyright owner is eligible for statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.

• Registration permits a copyright owner to establish a record with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)4 for protection against the importation of infringing copies.

Only register your work once

Under the current laws, once a work I registered with the office, it does not need to be registered again. The office will not knowingly make a duplicate registration for a work already registered with our office. However, If a work was initially registered as unpublished, then the office would accept a later registration for the published work, even if there is little to no changes in the work. If a new version of a work is made, the office will accept a new application for the new/revised content. This is not a duplicate registration, because the subsequent registration is to make a public record of the new edition of the work.

Registration can occur at any time during the life of the copyright. However, it can be advantageous to make a registration when the work is new, because the statutory benefits are not enjoyed until registration has occurred.

Submit hard copies of the book

Don’t forget to submit two printed copies of your work to the copyright office once you publish.

Mandatory deposit does not generally extend to unpublished works, therefore, when registering an unpublished work, we accept any format in which the complete copy exists. If the work is later published, the publisher or copyright holder is still obligated to satisfy mandatory deposit requirements.

The copies required for Mandatory Deposit under 17 USC 407, is not directly related to copyright registration. Under this section of the law, in general, two copies of the best edition of a published work must be sent to us to satisfy this requirement.

More information on submitting copies of work to satisfy Mandatory Deposit requirements can be found here: https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ07d.pdf


Pssst if you need help self-publishing, registering your work, or if you have questions, check out Tell Tell Poetry or email me at hello@telltellpoetry.com for support.

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