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In this post, I discuss how to secure a copyright protection for your original works.

how to secure a copyright

Photo by Martin Fisch is licensed under CC 2.0

If you are the creator of an original work, you may wonder how to secure a copyright for that work. Securing a copyright is surprising simple; so simple, in fact, that there is much misunderstanding surrounding the matter.

How To Secure a Copyright Automatically

As a result of the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright protections accrue automatically. You do not have to publish or register your work to receive protections.

Of course, as I have discussed elsewhere, there are significant advantages to registering your copyright, particularly with regard to enforcing your rights against infringers. Still, protections accrue automatically as soon as a work is created.

(As soon as a work is fixed in a form that can be read or visually or audibly perceived, it is considered “created.” A work in progress generally obtains copyright protection as it is created; it does not have to be completed to obtain protection.)


Under the earlier Copyright Act of 1909, publication with notice of copyright was key to obtaining protection. This is no longer the case. Still, while publication no longer plays a critical role in considering how to secure a copyright, it does play an important role in such matters as determining the duration of copyright protections and implicating the mandatory deposit with the Library of Congress provision of the law.

Copyright Notice

A copyright notice—traditionally provided through the © symbol followed by the identity of the copyright owner and the year of first publication of the work—was once a critical component in securing copyright protection. This, however, is no longer the case. (Though this notice is still important because it delegitimizes a claim of innocent infringement in a copyright infringement suit.)

While wondering how to secure a copyright may be a source of concern, it is quite easy to secure copyright protections. In fact, it generally happens automatically. It is still important, however, to provide a copyright notice and register your copyright to ensure your protections are more readily enforceable.


Copyright Basics

See Also:

Understanding Copyrights

Copyright Registration


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