How to Register a Copyright for Software Development


When you have developed software, it should be protected from other parties copying your work. The best way to do this is by registering a copyright.

What is a Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection that gives the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works, including software. Copyright is automatic. You don’t need to register with the government to obtain it, although registration may be necessary if you wish to bring suit against someone who has infringed on your copyright. Under U.S. law, works of authorship include literary, musical, dramatic, artistic, and certain other intellectual works as well as computer programs.

The Berne Convention requires member countries to provide basic international copyright protection for all creative works; however, it permits them some flexibility in how they implement their laws regarding duration and scope of protection. Most countries have set up systems that give the creator(s) relatively strong rights over the use of their work during its lifetime but limit those rights after death or publication depending on whether it’s considered “works made for hire.”

How to Register a Copyright?

If you are looking to register a copyright for your software development work, it’s important to understand the different forms of protection available and the process for registering a new work.

Copyright law allows creators of original works such as novels or music to control how others use their work. Currently, there are three types of copyright protection:

  • works that are eligible for statutory protection.
  • works that are ineligible for statutory protection but may be eligible under common law.
  • works that cannot be copyrighted at all under any circumstances.

For example, although novels can normally be copyrighted, poems cannot be because they do not meet the requirements set out in section 102(a) of title 17 United States Code (17 USC).

In order to qualify as a novel or other type of creative work subject to statutory protection under US Copyright Law, an item must contain some amount of original expression (i.e. creativity) sufficient enough that it is distinguishable from what already exists in public domain material — like factual information found on Wikipedia pages about famous people — before being created by another author/artist.

The first step to registering a copyright is to determine if your work is eligible for protection. If you’re not sure whether your work is eligible, you can use the United States Copyright Office’s eligibility self-evaluation tool on its website.

Once you’ve determined that your work qualifies for copyright protection, there are three different ways to register it:

  • online through an electronic filing system known as EFS-Web.
  • by mail using Form CO or Form VA.
  • by fax using Form SE.

If you are registering a published work, you will need to obtain a copy of the publication in order for it to qualify for registration. If your work is unpublished, however, it is not necessary to provide evidence that it has been published.

The Cost of a Copyright Registration

You can register your copyright for software development online, and the cost is $65. The rate remains constant regardless of the country in which you are registering the work or what type of work it is (e.g. novel, song lyrics).

Copyright vs. Patent vs. Trademark

Copyright is a form of intellectual property law that gives the author or creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time. These rights include the right to reproduce, distribute copies of, prepare derivative works based upon, publicly perform or display the copyrighted work.

The biggest difference between a copyright and the other two forms of IP protection is that you can’t patent or trademark software development. This means that if someone steals your idea, they may not be able to make money off of it unless they figure out how to protect their own creation with one of these types of protections.


Copyright protects original works of authorship. Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, graphic, sculptural and architectural works (17 U.S.C. §102). This includes computer software programs you create and all other forms of digital content you create as well.

  • A copyright gives you the right to prevent others from copying your work without your permission (or paying royalties), or altering it in certain ways and distributing it publicly without also providing credit to you as the creator.
  • Copyright also covers any tangible medium in which you’ve fixed your work—for example: paper printouts; hard drives; memory sticks; CD-ROMs; DVDs; floppy disks; etc..


Registering a copyright is a good way to protect your software. It’s also cost effective and doesn’t take much time. If you have questions about this process or would like to register your own software, please contact us today.

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