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In the last article I discussed the basics of copyright – what it covers, how to get a copyright, what you can do once you have a copyright, etc. If you recall, in nearly every country, copyright protection manifests automatically as soon as an original work is in fixed form.
But you’re also probably aware that you can register a copyright in the United States. I’ve seen a lot of confusion about this, so I’m going to try to lay it out in more detail.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Anything in this post is for informational purposes only - if you have specific questions, seek out the counsel of a practicing attorney.
Copyright vs. Copyright Registration
Getting a copyright and registering your copyright are two entirely separate things. Getting a copyright is automatic. In the US, and nearly every country in the world, once you put your music, writing, artwork, or whatever into a tangible, fixed form (like a computer file), you have a copyright.
That’s a very big point so read that last paragraph again because I see most of the confusion about copyrights and registration coming from not understanding that point.
Registering your copyright, as I said, is an entirely different matter. Outside of the US, most countries don’t even have an official government registration of copyrights. But the United States still holds on to having a registration process that authors and musicians can take advantage of.
Important! - Registration fees increased on August 1st. Electronic registration is still the best way to go, both in price and processing time. Second is using the universal Form CO. If you somehow manage to get your hands on the old PA or SR forms (only available by request at the Copyright Office), be prepared to pay more than the other two options – and be prepared for a much greater processing time.
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