Online Copyright Registration
Everyday tasks and activities have become much easier due to the internet. Online shopping, bill payments, account maintenance, as well as corresponding with friends and relatives are all quick and easy with online computer advances. Time is limited which makes instant retrieval of information and services important in today's world. And when you have created something that you want to protect, you expect government agencies and departments to be equally as effective and as advanced. Hence, registering copyrights can now be done electronically in the US through the eCO, the Electronic Copyright Office.
The registration process is very simple and since the Office prefers registrants to use the online service, it provides several benefits to customers including cheaper filing fees, faster processing times, online status checking, payments by credit card, debit or eCheck, and the ability to upload deposits straight into the eCO as electronic files. Deposits is the term used for the documents that you want to register. In fact, you are making a deposit to the library.
To successfully register a copyright, the registrant will need to complete an application form, pay the required fees, and submit the deposit. The fee is non-refundable, and the deposit cannot be returned. It is unlikely that someone would request the deposit to be returned in an online registration as it would be a copy. This is more for hard copies sent in the mail. If the registration process instructs you to send a hard copy, then do not send your original, as it will not be returned to you. Also, if you are instructed to send the hard copy, you will need to print out a “shipping slip” which must accompany your documents in the mail.
Once all three requisites are met, the effective date of the registration will begin on the date that the material was received. Although copyright protection does not legally require a document to be registered, there are advantages to registering, and these advantages become available on the “received date”. The deposit is then placed into the searchable database.
Finally, one word of caution when choosing online copyright registration. There are now websites in operation that offer to register your copyrights for you. In reality, there is no need to pay someone to do this. Obviously, they need to charge for their services, and since the official government website makes filing quite simple, it does not take anything special to do your own. Preparing all your material to send to these websites will actually take longer, so why take the chance with your material especially since you feel the need to register it.
Author's Note: The word “documents” is used to encompass all copyrighted material whether on paper, disc, phono-record, or other medium.