How to Register a Copyright for Household


This guide will help you understand copyright basics and the steps to register a copyright.

About Copyright

What is a copyright?

A copyright protects the original works of authorship. It covers both published and unpublished works, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. The owner of the copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce or distribute copies (or phonorecords) of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work, publicly perform or display it, or distribute an audio recording that fixes a sound recording with at least one copy of a computer program fixed in tangible form in either machine-readable object code form or source code as mentioned above.

Purpose of Copyright Registration

The purpose of copyright registration is to establish a public record of the copyright in an original work, so that you can prove its existence and the date of creation. The Copyright Act provides several benefits for works registered with the Copyright Office before an infringement occurs, including enhanced damages and attorney fees if you win your case.

Steps To Registering a Copyright

Step 1: Determine if your Work is Eligible for Copyright Protection

Your work must be original, fixed in a tangible form and meet the basic requirements of being an “authorship.” If your work does not meet these three criteria, you cannot receive copyright protection for it.

Step 2: Where To Register?

Decide on whether you want to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office or an alternative registry such as the Library of Congress or state archives.

Step 3: Decide on the Medium You Want to Register Your Work In The U.S.

There are three types of copyright protection: visual arts, music and literature. If you have created a piece of art or music, you can register it with the U.S. Copyright Office. If your work does not fall into one of these categories, then you will need to register it with an alternative registry such as the Library of Congress or state archives.

Step 4: File the Correct Forms with the U.S. Copyright Office

The U.S. Copyright Office has several forms that you can use to register your work, including a Visual Arts Form VA and Music Form MV. For many works, these are sufficient; however, if you have created a piece of literature or software, then you will need to complete different forms instead.

Step 5: Pay the Filing Fee

Once you have completed the necessary forms, then you will need to pay a filing fee of $85.

Step 6: Wait for Your Registration to be Processed

After you have filed your paperwork, it will take the U.S. Copyright Office up to six months to process your registration. During this time, you will not be able to make any copies of your work for distribution or sale.

Step 7: Receive Your Certificate of Registration

Once your registration has been processed, you will receive your certificate in the mail.

Why Consider Registering a Copyright

You should consider registering your copyright if you are concerned that someone might steal or copy your work (either accidentally or intentionally), especially if what you created isn’t easily available to the public yet—such as when writing a novel or song lyrics—and don’t want someone else profiting from it before they do.

Who Can Claim Copyright?

The author of an original work is the first owner of copyright in that work. The owner of a copyright is the legal entity that purchased the right to make copies and distribute the work, such as a publisher or record company. An assignee is someone who has been given permission by another person (the author) to use their copyrighted content in some way.

What Works Are Protected?

Copyright law protects “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” This broad definition covers almost all forms of creative expression, with only a few exceptions.

For example, ideas and facts are not protected by copyright. However, if you write down your own personal recipes or record them in a cookbook on your computer, they may be protected by copyright if they are original and fixed in a tangible medium–for example, written down on paper or saved as an electronic file.

To qualify for protection under U.S. law:

  • The work must be created by an author (either professional or amateur).
  • The work must be original–that is, it must have some minimal degree of creativity to it so that no one else could have reasonably done the same thing before you did it. The creator should consider whether he or she can protect his/her work from infringement by registering with the U.S Copyright Office in advance. This will give him/her extra legal rights against someone who copies his/her work without permission. There is also no requirement that something be published before it’s copyrighted (although publishing does give extra protection).

What Is Not Protected by Copyright?

While most books, movies, songs and paintings can be protected by copyright law, there are some things that cannot be protected. These include:

  • Facts
  • Ideas, procedures, processes and methods of operation
  • Titles, names and short phrases

Rights Granted by Copyright

The following rights are granted by copyright to the owner of the work:

  • The right to make copies of the original work. This includes making a backup copy or archiving a file on your computer or in a cloud storage service.
  • The right to create derivative works based on the original work, such as translations. You can also modify an existing work for your own use, provided that you don’t distribute it commercially (such as selling DVDs of your favorite movie). This is also known as “fair use.”
  • The right to distribute copies of the original or modified works via physical media like CDs or hard drives, online services such as iTunes, and peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent and eDonkey2000. You must obtain permission from the copyright holder if you wish to sell copies of copyrighted material (including physical media) without paying royalties or licensing fees first.

Length of Copyright Protection

A copyright protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. The length of time that a copyright lasts depends on the type of work you have created and when it was published. If your work is unpublished, it is protected for your lifetime plus 70 years after your death.

If your work is published within your lifetime or within 70 years after your death, then it will be protected for either 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation (whichever occurs first).


  • Registering your copyright is the first step to protecting your work.
  • The U.S. Copyright Office recognizes the importance of protecting household chore choreography and has created a special category for choreographers who wish to register their works with them.
  • Copyright applies to any type of choreography, including dance routines that are performed by individuals or groups on television, film or stage shows, as well as other types of performance art such as acrobatics and clowning.”


Copyright registration is a great way to protect your creative work. Not everyone can afford this process, but if you are going to be selling your work or using it commercially, it’s worth it. You can file with the Copyright Office yourself or hire someone else to do it for you. If done correctly and timely, the registration will last for 120 years after your death.

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