Art should be appreciated and protected. In today’s digital world, it can be taken in an instant and shared with millions of people without any credit being given to its author. Unfortunately, because of this, many artists are hesitant to share their creations online. The legal industry should rally around artists to offer them the protection they need to freely share their gifts with the public. As an attorney, I make it my business to encourage artists to copyright their music and other artforms with their local copyright government office. This article will show you how to easily copyright your material online with step by step instructions.

The Importance of Copyrighting

Many artists do not know the importance of copyrighting their materials. By copyrighting your material with the United States Copyright Office, you are creating a pathway to safeguard your creativity and ensure certain types of legal protection. A list of government offices for copyright can be found on the World Intellectual Property Organization website.

Registering your material establishes a public record of the copyright claim, which allows artists to bring an infringement suit in court for works of U.S. origin. If made within five years of publication, copyright also establishes the validity of the date of origin. If you register your work within 3 months after publication, you will qualify for statutory damages and attorney’s fees for violation of the copyright. It also allows you to record the copyright with the U.S. Customs Service for protection of importation of infringing copies.

How to Register

With the advent of technology, you can easily register and file claims at the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) for literary work, visual arts, sound recordings, performing arts, motion picture/audiovisual work, and single issue serials (successive works bearing numerical or chronological designations, intended to continue indefinitely).

You simply register and upload your music/art in an electronic format in 500 MB increments. If your file is larger than 500 MB’s, you must compress your file or break your work into smaller sections. Here are a list of the formats that the eCO accepts.

The eCO database is a government website and the cost of copyrighting your art is generally $35 per submitted work. A submitted work can include up to several pieces of art, if they are in the same “collection.”

Step 1

The first step in registering your copyright is to go to the official government website.

Step 2

Click the “New User” link and following the directions, entering your name and phone number.

Step 3

Log into the system and fill out the necessary form. See this link for an example.

Good luck! Keep creating art and keep it legally protected!