How to obtain a copyright certificate

When your product finished you are at 95% done. You need to get it under protection from being copied by others. For this purpose I recommend that you start registering IP with the american government. In the USA there are approximately 500000 works registered annually for copyright. I will present to you how to apply for a copyright certificate, what rights it offers you and how much it costs. 

DISCLAIMER: THIS WORK CANNOT BE USED AS LEGAL ADVICE, THIS WORK IS INTENDED AS A LIGHT REPRESENTATION OF THE COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION PROCESS.

From the American government point of view IP is copyrighted from the first second you finish creation. That means you own the rights from the start. To be able to enforce an infringement lawsuit you are obligated to have the IP registered at the US Copyright Office prior to the lawsuit. 

Infringement = the action of breaking the terms of a law, agreement

Registration process steps:

  1. Finishing the work or getting it to be nearly finished.
  2. Submitting an online registration form on www.copyright.gov
  3. Create a registration folder, this can be an actual paper folder or an electronic folder on your desktop.
  4. Send your registration folder to the US Copyright Office for examination.
  5. Response after examination.

1. The work must be finished or nearly completed before you engage in the process of getting a copyright certificate.

2. Submit your application form to begin your registration process in the gouvernemental office. I recommend you to use the online way of registration because it gives you these benefits:

  • Lower financial cost 
  • Faster processing 
  • Electronic payment
  • Possibility to upload your application. For developers the work being software it is perfect to send the office the required copies

3. After you complete your registration form, you need to start building you registration folder that should contain:

  • The correct receipt of fee payment, the initial cost is around 55$ if you are paying with paper money and 35$ if you try to register online for more information access
  • The copy or copies of the IP, in a finished state of development
  • The completed application form (electronic or paper way)

If any of these parts were missing from your registration folder there is a high probability that your copyright request will be denied.

4. When you have your registration folder completed you are ready to send your folder to the copyright office for examination 

After the your file is received it is handed to an examiner that examines the IP  like this: 

  • Checks if your project is suitable for copyright protection. Creations not suited for copyright protection are, names, short phrases, simple shapes, single words, slogans, title of works.
  • Checks for mistakes or missing parts from your submission.
  • Compares the registration form with the state of completion, content, and purpose of the work. 
  • Checks the degree of originality and creativity of the work. Don’t be discouraged the bar is not high but there is a bar.

The examiner makes the determinations based on what you send to the office. The person examining your file does not do outside research or compare the application with others.

Any modifications you do to the work after the registration folder is sent to the office are not protected by the certificate.You need to make modifications to the copyright certificate after you receive it for your modified work to be protected.

5. After the careful examination you will receive your answer from the office in around 45 days.

If the answer is negative, you will receive a letter of refusal. Don’t be discouraged, this does not mean IP is not protected, keep that letter close, after a revision of the creation and fixing the specifications of the examiner you will be able to apply again for registration.
The letter of refusal can be useful if you want to bring a lawsuit regarding the IP.

If the answer is positive, you will be the proud owner of a copyright certificate. You will receive the certificate by mail sent by the US Copyright Office.

The benefits that a copyright certificate brings to you are:

  1. It states that the work belongs to you and gives you all the right for exploitation. This means that if anyone else copies your IP you can sue them and start an infringement lawsuit. 
  2. Covers a period of 5 years prior since the first publication of your creation. 
  3. The certificate mandates that in a lawsuit the person accused that copied your IP, needs to disprove the fact that you have a valid copyright certificate.
  4. On a global scale this certificate gives you the right to ask Us Customs and Border Protection to seize any works that copy your product.
  5. gives the general public a way to access your IP and gives you another channel to distribute your product. It is like you would make a complete profile for your IP so that people can find and use it legally.

FAQ – copyright

This subchapter is for those who need to know more and keep asking questions. I have prepared for you some frequently asked questions based on what people ask when they want to register for copyrights or want to use a work that is under copyright.

  1. Is my copyright viable in countries other than the USA? 

When this subchapter was written there were 200 countries that had copyright regulations with the USA.

  1. Can I copyright my website or my domain name? 

-Websites can be copyrighted, this will protect your articles, photos, videos and others for whom you are the original creator.

– Domain names cannot be copyrighted because the copyright law does not protect names, single words, short phrases or simple shapes. These things can be protected as trademarks.

  1. Can I get a star named after me and claim copyright to it? 

No, as previously stated names can’t be copyrighted. You could create a book in which you name a star after you but the subject of copyright will be the book not the star name. 

  1. Can people outside of the United States claim copyrights to their work under the United States law and protection? 

Yes. Anyone can register their work from outside the United States. If the work is firstly published in the US or in a country that has a copyright treaty with the US will be protected by copyright law.

  1. How long does the registration process take?

In general the process can take between 1 month to 6 months.

  1. If my claim for copyrights has been declined how much does I have to change my work before I can try again?

The answer is to change it in a way to be more creative with your IP. Let’s say you register a novel. If you just correct the spelling errors this  will not be enough to try again. But if you write a new chapter in your novel then that might give you another chance to try again.

In my opinion these are some of the important questions when you decide to try to claim copyrights for your IP. For mor FAQ about copyrights visit: https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/

(Copyright Sources: 

FAQ copyright :

https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/

Countries that have copyright regulations with usa:

Description of public licencing:

Fair use: 

Copyright fees:

Copyright registration: 

What is copyright:

History of copyright: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_copyright )

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