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How to Register Your Copyright5:16 with Chris Zabriskie
You don't have to formally register your copyright for it to be valid, but it has its benefits, and it might be a step you want to take.
Register your copyright online at the United States Copyright Office.
Just a reminder that the information in this video is specific to the United States. This process is also unique to the United States, as the vast majority of other countries in the world have no formal procedure for registering copyrights. And no where in the world is this registration required.
The World Intellectual Property organization maintains a list of intellectual property offices if you'd like to get more details about registration, if it exists, where you live.
[Copyright Basics with Chris Zabriskie] [Protecting and Sharing Your Work] [Deep Dive] 0:00 So you've made a website or an app or whatever you've created. 0:04 It's in that fixed, tangible form. Other people can see it. It's copyrighted. 0:09 When I said that's really all you need to do to copyright something, I meant it. 0:14 But there is one final step you can take, and that's registering your copyright with the Library of Congress. 0:19 Please let me be clear this step is in no way required in order to protect your work. 0:26 Your creation is already copyrighted. That copyright is already valid. 0:32 But there are a few benefits to registering your work with the United States Government though. 0:36 You get a nice certificate to hang on your wall or more likely file away in a drawer but still. 0:42 The certificate isn't as important as the fact that your creation is now in a public database. 0:47 Anybody can search for and find that formal registration. 0:53 It's not necessary to creating or retaining your copyright, but it might be a step you want to take. 0:57 Where registration really becomes not just important but necessary is the unlikely event that you find yourself in court. 1:04 Maybe you've made an iPhone app that someone else just stole wholesale—just unapologetically copied and sold. 1:13 It's eating into your sales. You've sent takedown notices. We're going to learn how to do that in a second. 1:19 You consulted a lawyer, and this is your last resort. You have to sue. 1:24 Now this is a total bummer. 1:28 That formal copyright registration is going to be key, and the sooner you register your copyright the better for your case in court. 1:30 If you register your work within 5 years of its creation, that actually looks really fantastic in a court of law in the United States. 1:39 In fact, if those people who stole your app didn't register their copyright at all, 1:47 there's a really good chance that you're going to win that case just by default. 1:52 If you register it within 3 months of creation, that looks even better, and it can entitle you to more money if you win the case. 1:57 All that being said, even if you waited 20 years to register your work, it's okay. 2:06 Even if you waited until right before you go to court, that really can be fine. 2:11 The creation of the work is always the most important step, 2:16 but to actually take any copyright case to court, that official registration will be required. 2:21 Registration as soon as possible after the creation of the work is always a good thing. 2:27 You'll need to decide if official registration is important to you or not. 2:34 Talk to a lawyer if you have any concerns about your own situation, 2:39 but really all this talk about lawyers and courts and suing—registering is easy, and it's cheap. 2:43 There's not a lot of reasons to not do it. 2:50 I know I keep saying it, but it's important to remember your work is copyrighted whether you register it or not. 2:52 But registering a copyright with the Library of Congress is an easy process. 2:59 You can even do it online. 3:03 There's a fee of $35 for each work, and for something like a website or an app that includes images, text, multiple pages, and all that, 3:05 it's not $35 per page or per image or anything like that. 3:14 You can register it all together in one package as a full website. 3:18 You can even upload the site or the app in a zip file. 3:22 The Library of Congress accepts a lot of different file formats, 3:25 so it's pretty simple to upload your work. 3:29 Or if you're a little more—I don't know—let's say traditional, 3:32 you can mail in a CDR with your work on it. 3:36 That's basically it. Registration is easy to do, it's inexpensive, and you don't even have to buy stamps. 3:38 But there is one small thing you need to remember when registering a website or an app. 3:45 It's one thing to make a movie and register that copyright. 3:51 Unless you're George Lucas that movie's not going to be changing much anytime soon, 3:54 but websites and apps change. 3:59 We're constantly updating stuff on the web. 4:01 If you've registered your website when you first made it live, 4:04 any changes you make after you've registered it aren't included in that initial registration. 4:08 Now that's not really as big of deal as it might sound. 4:13 You wouldn't want to have to pay $35 every single time you updated your blog. Right? 4:16 That initial registration is going to cover the most important stuff about your site. 4:21 The fact that it exists in the first place, that's important. 4:26 The whole idea of your site, what it's about, the basic code behind it, 4:30 a lot of those building blocks that aren't going to change very often. 4:34 Changing a background color, moving the sidebar navigation from the left side of the page to the right, 4:38 that's not a big deal, and it's not really unique to your site in the first place. 4:43 But major, serious revisions to your site might warrant an update to your registration, which you can do. 4:48 If that's something that you're concerned about, as always, I'd recommend talking to a lawyer. 4:54 Just remember that having that initial registration is the most important thing, 4:59 and any sort of updates you make to that registration are only going to cover the actual changes that you've made since. 5:03 So get that initial registration done, and see what your needs are going forward from there. 5:11
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