How to Register a Copyright for an Advertising Agency


If you’re an advertising professional, you know that your day-to-day work requires plenty of creativity. And the best way to protect that creativity is by registering a copyright for your work. However, many advertisers do not know how to register their copyrights or whether they should even bother with doing so. This guide will help you understand how registering a copyright works and why it’s essential for protecting your original ads.

An Essential Form of Legal Protection

A federal copyright is an essential form of legal protection for creative advertising professionals.

A copyright protects the rights of authors or creators to their original work, including literary and artistic works such as poetry, novels, movies and artworks. It gives them exclusive right over the use of their work for a certain period of time (usually 70 years after creation). Internationally recognized as intellectual property laws protect ideas that have been expressed in tangible form—for example, books or photographs—or intangible forms such as software programs or songs recorded on CDs. Copyrights are also known as “intellectual property” laws because they affect one’s mental capacity rather than physical objects like houses and cars which can be stolen physically by someone else without permission from you first.

Copyright for Everything

If you’re like most advertisers, there isn’t a day that goes by in which you aren’t creating copyrighted material. It’s not just the ads themselves; it’s also everything else: your magazine articles and website content, video scripts and descriptions, original research reports or studies. In fact, if you’ve been in advertising for any length of time at all (and I hope that’s true), then it’s highly likely that at least some of the things on your resume are copyrighted material.

Registering with the United States Copyright Office (USCO) is something every writer should do as soon as possible after beginning their first job at an ad agency. But how does one go about doing this? And what happens once they have registered?

Difference Between a Copyright and a Trademark

A copyright protects the intellectual property of an advertiser, which is the creative ideas and concepts that go into a particular advertisement.

A trademark protects a word, phrase, or symbol used to identify goods and services sold. Patents protect inventions and designs. These can be useful for protecting your company’s logo or slogan from being used by someone else without permission, but they’re less important when it comes to protecting your work as an advertising professional.

Registering Your Work with the U.S. Copyright Office is Not Required

You do not need to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to have copyright protection; the act of creating your work will itself give it copyright protection. However, there are several benefits of registering your work that include:

  • Proof that you were the author or creator of the work (especially useful if someone else tries to claim ownership)
  • Access to legal remedies for infringement (i.e., being able to sue an infringer).
  • Right to use “©” symbol on copies of your registered works and include in advertising materials as a means of informing others that they may be infringing on your rights

Why Registration is Necessary

Copyright doesn’t have to be registered to be valid, but without registration it’s difficult to enforce your rights against infringers. A copyright owner can recover damages, attorney fees and statutory damages. The court may also order the destruction of infringing works and award injunctive relief (i.e., ordering an injunction) to prevent further infringement.

If you don’t register your work with the U.S Copyright Office within three months from its publication or distribution, then there are different limitations on what rights you have in court when suing for infringement:

  • Without registration, you cannot recover any actual damages for harm done by the infringement; instead all that is available is “statutory” damages which are set according to a predetermined formula set forth by law (17 U.S.C § 504).
  • Without registration, courts may not grant preliminary injunctive relief (that is ‘injunctive relief’ before trial) against infringements of copyright if they occur outside of a narrow range of industries specified by Congress in 17 U.S C 509(b)(2)(B).

Where To Register

You can register a copyright for your work with the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO). You can do this online, but only if you are a member of the organization that is uploading your work. If you’re not already a member, it’s free to become one through ASME Professional Practice & Ethics Division as long as you are an ASME professional in good standing with no outstanding dues or fines and no disciplinary actions against your membership record.

Once you’ve done this, go to the USCO website and click on “Register Online.” You’ll be asked for basic information about yourself and then about the work that should be copyrighted by filling out an electronic form consisting of several fields where information must be entered exactly as it appears on your documentation file from ASME Professional Practice & Ethics Division. The system will automatically convert all dates into US format before sending them off so there is no need for any further input from users regarding date formats!


It is important to protect your creativity and original works. A federal copyright provides the best way to do this, because it’s the only form of legal protection that lasts for your lifetime plus 70 years after your death. At least one person at every advertising agency should be familiar with this process so they can help their colleagues protect their work from being stolen or misused by others.

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