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How to Copyright One's Writing in the USA

Updated on June 16, 2014

First and foremost, I am NOT a lawyer and I am NOT giving a legal opinion. So, all ye legal beagles who want to trip me up for unlicensed, unauthorized practice of law – go elsewhere. I am giving a consumer’s experiences, nothing more.

I used to register my copyright on writing and on music compositions back when I was a pup…when it cost only $10.00. This was back in the days before the Internet, pdf’s, electronic banking and even before personal computers. Yes, I walked with the dinosaurs (not really – humans and dinosaurs occupied different eras.)

Nowadays for United States copyright information one can learn much at this website:

Blue painted fence in bright sunshine.
Blue painted fence in bright sunshine. | Source

Copyright Basics

There, click on “Copyright Basics” to get to this information.

“…Who Can Claim Copyright?

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created

in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship

immediately becomes the property of the author who created

the work…” at Click on Copyright Basics and go to page 2 of the 12-page pdf.

I will emphasize the words from the time the work is created.

(The above quoted material was accessed on September 11, 2011.)


Return to the starting page. Now click on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). One learns:

“…When is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

Do I have to register with your office to be protected?

No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration.”

Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?

Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation…”

This is from , also accessed on September 11, 2011.

Registering Your Copyright

Go to this link: Things are much more complicated these days with e-filing and all sorts of media for creative works that just didn’t exist before. I recommend one study this section thoroughly if a need to register is felt.

In the past, I did save money by putting my songs or my literature into a “collection.” I do not know if it is still as easy to do this in 2011.

Miscellaneous Information

The website states that it may take 4 months or more to receive a response from the U.S. Copyright Office. Some things haven’t changed! Therefore, if you are doing a paper filing send your submission by certified mail return receipt requested, or by other delivery confirmation means. It will give you much comfort.

Prior to registering one’s copyright, it seems to this consumer that it is perfectly appropriate to include the notice of copyright at the end of each hub I publish online.

OK - now this is really weird. I feel like an artist who draws someone looking in mirror, which shows that same someone looking in a mirror, which continues like a fractal....

Anyway, here goes:

Photo and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan

Answer the Question, Maren

This hub is in response to a question asked by prektjr.dc. Originally, I typed an answer in a box provided by hubpages and the auto-editor REJECTED my response as being "too short." Subsequently I wrote this informative hub which sadly does not answer her question. Sheesh!

My apologies, and here are the Q and A:

Do you put your copyright information in a separate capsule at the end of your hub?

Yes, I do.


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    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      zsobig, glad I could help!

    • zsobig profile image

      Sophie 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great information, recently I've been thinking about addig this little, additional copright row to the end of each of my hubs.

      With your information, now I surely will!

      Thanks, voted up + useful!

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks, RTalloni. It is an exciting new world in the age of information.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks much for this concise info on copyrighting written works.

      Voted up and bookmarked.

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      You are welcome! We writers support each other!

    • prektjr.dc profile image

      Debbie Carey 6 years ago from Riverton, KS, USA


      Thank you for the response AND the hub!! It was very informative and really did answer my questions that floated below the surface of the original one! I appreciate all your research! I will follow your example and I am sure others will as well! Voted up, useful and interesting! Thanks again!