How to Register a Copyright in Missouri


In the United States, you automatically own any original work that you create. This is because American copyright law gives authors and artists the right to reproduce and distribute their works for a limited time. For example, if you write a book or paint a picture, these are automatically protected by copyright laws that protect your rights as an author or artist. But what happens when someone steals your work without your permission? What if they put it in their own book or article without giving you credit? Well, then they are violating those same laws by reproducing your work without paying royalties or giving credit where credit is due. In this situation, one option for protecting yourself against copycats is to register a copyright in Missouri—a process that protects both published works and unpublished material (such as songs).

Register a Copyright in Missouri with the U.S. Copyright Office

Once you’ve created a work, you can register copyright in Missouri by registering with the U.S. Copyright Office, which is an office of the Library of Congress located in Washington, D.C. The office operates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and can be reached at (202) 707-3000 or by email. They accept registration documents via mail or fax and will send them back to you so that they are properly filled out and stamped before sending them back to their respective owners for safekeeping.

The only caveat is that if your work is created outside of Missouri but has an address within our great state, then it still needs to be registered here first before being sent on for federal recognition purposes (so don’t forget about that).

 Register Online

You can register a copyright in Missouri online. The process takes only a few minutes and costs less than $100. To begin your registration, first, be sure that the work in question is indeed eligible for copyright protection by verifying its date of creation and whether it was created by someone other than yourself (or any other individual who has assigned their rights to you).

Next, you’ll need a copy of your work—either as a hardcopy or scan—that includes all of its original material: words, images, video footage, and so forth. When uploading this information into the form on the website’s homepage, remember that if more than one person worked on the project together then each author should submit a separate application instead of trying to register everything at once under one name (this will save time later when trying to license or sell those rights). If possible also include an image showing how large this file is. This helps avoid confusion about which materials may qualify for protection under fair use exceptions within U.S. Copyright Act (for example someone might not realize how much artwork they want to be included).

Register the Copyright Electronically or by Mail or Fax

Electronic registration is quicker, easier, and cheaper than paper-based filing. You can log into your account at to see if your work has been accepted for copyright protection online, then you will receive an official certificate of registration in the mail within 14 days of uploading your application.

The fee for electronic applications is $35 per application with no additional processing fee if you also submit a copy of the work as part of your submission (this copy must be an exact reproduction of the work on which copyright is being claimed).

Mail or fax filings are still available but they may take longer to process than electronic filings because they require manual processing by staff members here at our office before being returned via USPS first-class mail so please allow up to 30 days before expecting confirmation either way.  We recommend submitting all applications electronically whenever possible so as not to delay their processing unnecessarily.

Application Requirements

In order to file a copyright, you must provide the following information with your application:

  • The name and address of the author(s)
  • The title of the work
  • The year in which it was published (if applicable)
  • A deposit of the material being registered (such as CDs or DVDs)


Copyright is a form of protection for original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. Copyright protects the expression of an idea but not the idea itself.

For example, if you write a novel, your work would be protected by copyright law as long as it was an “original work.” If you copied someone else’s story or made changes to their story without adding any original material yourself then that would be considered plagiarism and not protected by copyright law.


Now, you can rest easy knowing that your work is protected by U.S. law and that anyone who attempts to infringe on it will be held accountable for their actions. This article includes all the information you need to know in order to register a copyright in Missouri.

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