You own the copyright to your book the moment you begin writing it. But if you want to safeguard your copyright, you need to do more.
By registering the copyright to your book with the U.S. Copyright Office, you protect your ability to enforce your rights over your book against any infringement of those rights. You can do this yourself or simplify the process by using a service.
If you choose to go the DIY route, here is an overview of the process.
How to register a copyright
Registering your copyright is simple. Fortunately, have two registration choices:
- Electronic registration, called "eCo" on the U.S. Copyright Office website
- Mail/print registration
The registration process involves filling out and submitting your application for copyright, paying a fee, and sending in a copy of the work being copyrighted. In this case, because you're copyrighting a book, that would be a copy of your book.
The following steps will walk you through the electronic registration of your copyright. Note that the steps are based on the structure of the registration portal at the time of the writing of this article, so the names of the links may be slightly different depending on when you access the site:
- Go to the Copyright Office's registration page.
- Click on Literary Works.
- You will now be on the Literary Works copyright page. Click on the link that says "Register a Literary Work."
- This will take you to a log in page. To electronically register your copyright, you'll need to have an account within the electronic copyright registration system.
- Once you've completed the creation of your account (or have logged in if you've previously created an account), you'll be taken to your account. From there, click on "Standard Application." You may also be eligible to register using the "Register One Work by One Author" link. Click on that link to see if you meet all the eligibility criteria for using that registration option.
- Click on "Start Registration" and work your way through entering the information required. If at any time you need help, click on the Help link.
- Once you've completed your application, pay the required fee. The U.S. Copyright Office accepts both debit and credit cards, or you can set up a deposit account if you prefer.
- Finalize your registration application by submitting your book. In most cases, even though you're registering electronically, you'll need to submit a hard copy of your book. If this is the case, after you've submitted your application and paid the appropriate fee, you'll be directed to create and print a shipping label for submitting your book. If you meet the requirements for submitting an electronic copy of your book, you can upload your book instead. Be sure to check your eligibility for uploading an electronic copy of your book to see if you qualify. If you do qualify, the FAQs have the full details walking you through your upload.
If you would rather not use the electronic copyright registration system, you also have the option to mail in your registration application:
1. Download and print Form TX from the U.S. Copyright Office site.
2. Fill out the form. The first part of the form will walk you through all the information required for filling out the form properly.
3. Mail it in with the appropriate payment.
4. Finalize your registration application by submitting your book.
How much does it cost to copyright a book?
At the time of this article, the following are the fees required for each type of registration:
- Electronic registration, single application (one work by one author): $45
- Electronic registration, standard application: $65
- Paper registration, Form TX: $125
Note, however, that the filing fees are subject to change. Registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office is a quick and easy process. Registration can all be done online, or, if you prefer, you can mail in a print copy of your copyright application instead.
Find out more about Copyrights