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Expected Audience: Anyone who wants to know the basics of Copyright Registration
Copyright registration is a fairly straight forward and simple process. There are three basic requirements an application, a filing fee, and a deposit. The application is a simple set of forms that can and should be filled out online. (Filling out paper forms requires a higher filing fee, so why would you bother with paper?)
The deposit is a copy of the work to be sent to the copyright office. If the work that is being registered has already been published two copies need to be sent. (One is for the Library of Congress, but the Library of Congress doesn't necessarily keep every copy it is sent.) The copyright office destroys the deposits that are sent in. One interesting rule is that the deposit is supposed to be the best edition of the applicant work. For example an author that publishes a novel in paper and hardback, should send the copyright office a hardback copy of the work. Also, the deposit is not supposed to be electronic, unless the work is published exclusives in an electronic form. A musician that distributes music via MP3 but does not make a CD the musician can send an MP3 version of the musician's work. In class there was some debate about whether a musician who published in both vinyl and CD could meet the best edition requirement with either version or a particular one. The best edition rule is not very well enforced so it was a purely academic argument.
The filing fee is fairly straightforward. It can be paid online via credit card. The copyright office doesn't host the payment services and uses a third party site.