How to Register a Copyright in Pennsylvania


Copyright registration is a complicated process that requires a lot of documentation. Fortunately, you only have to register your copyrights when you first create them, not every time you want to enforce your rights against someone who’s infringing on them. And while the process can seem intimidating at first, it’s actually quite straightforward if you follow these steps:

1. Identify the Work

  • You must be able to identify the work in a way that will remain clear and stable over time.
  • The work must be ‘fixed’ in a tangible medium of expression.

2. Create a Document

The document you create must include the following information:

  • A title for your work.
  • The date that you created it.
  • Who owns the copyright (you or someone else)? If you’re registering a work created by another person, you’ll need to include their name and address next to yours on the document form.
  • What type of work you are registering (for example, books, music recordings, movies)?

The Copyright Office provides detailed guidelines on how these documents should be formatted in order to meet its requirements. It’s important not only that they contain all required elements but also that they are arranged properly so that they can be easily scanned into computers at both ends of this process (at the Library of Congress and at Penn State’s library).

3. Include the Copyright Registration Fee

You must include the copyright registration fee, which is $55 for most online applications. If you are registering a group of works, the fee is $55 per work.

4. Provide a Copy of your Work

You must provide a copy of your work. You can send in the physical copy or you can send it electronically. It should be clear and readable, and it should include the title of the work, the author, and any other information that will help identify it.

5. Send the Completed Application Form

You must send the completed application form, any required fees, and a non-returnable copy of your work to the U.S. Copyright Office at 101 Independence Ave., SE, Washington, DC 20559-6000.


The process is straightforward if you follow these instructions.

  • You must be able to identify the work in a way that will remain clear and stable over time. This means that your description of the work should be specific enough so that others can recognize it as the same work when they see it years later, but not too specific (to avoid triggering automatic copyright protection). The best way is to simply describe what it looks like or sounds like: “a song by me titled ‘My Song’” or “the design on this coffee mug.”
  • You must create a document that tells the Copyright Office what you are registering, who should be listed as owner(s) of the copyright, and who should be responsible for enforcing your rights under U.S. law.


You may have heard stories of people having difficulty registering their work, but this is not the case. If you follow the steps above, you should be able to register your work without any trouble at all.

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