How to Register a Copyright in Washington


If you have written a book, short story, song, or any other creative work and want to protect it, then you will need to register your copyright. In this article, we’ll explain what that means and how to protect your work legally.

Gather the Information You Need

To register your copyright, you’ll need the following information:

  • The copyright registration form.
  • Proof of ownership of the work. This can be a copy of the original creation or something else that clearly identifies it as yours, such as a contract with the publisher or other relationship to show that you’re associated with it in some way.
  • A copy or two (or three) of your work(s). You can submit a single work on multiple copies if needed, but each submission requires its own registration fee ($65 for unpublished works filed online; $85 for published works filed online; $105 for unpublished/published material sent by mail). If submitting more than one copy at once is not practical—maybe because you don’t know what type of copies will be accepted—you should wait until later before sending more than one at once; however, if your submitted material changes over time due to edits or new editions being released then feel free to resubmit newer versions later because all previous submissions are still considered valid until 30 days after their respective dates were processed by us here at patent office headquarters.

Copyrights are Effective for a Fixed Number of Years

For example, copyright protection for an original work of authorship extends for a fixed period of time. Under the current law, this period is the life of the author plus 70 years after death. For works created anonymously or under pseudonyms, copyright protection lasts 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

Copyright owners can also renew their copyrights by filing a renewal application between 3 and 28 years after its expiration date; however, renewal is not mandatory and has no effect on ownership rights in any way.

Once you’ve registered your copyright, it lasts for a very long time. Since 1976, the maximum length of an individual’s copyright has been life plus 70 years, making it one of the longest copyrights in the world. If a work was created by a corporation (like an artist’s painting or sculpture), then that corporation gets 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation—whichever is shorter—to use the work freely before someone else can claim it as their own.

Registering a Copyright can Take Several Months

The good news is that it doesn’t take too long to register your copyright. The Copyright Office says that you can expect to receive a notice of registration within four months after they get your application. If you’re not expecting something in the mail right away, don’t worry! You’ll probably hear from them fairly soon.

If you want to check on the status of an application or find out how much longer they think it might take, go ahead and use their online form. They will tell you exactly how long the process has taken so far and give an estimate of how long they think it will continue until completion (and why).


Registering copyright in Washington is not as complicated as you might think. While registration is not required, it is recommended and can be done easily online at the U.S. Copyright Office website for $35 plus a few minutes of your time.

To register your work:

  • Go to the U.S. Copyright Office website and fill out an application (you will need basic information such as title, author, etc.)
  • Pay the fee ($35) via credit card or PayPal
  • Enter into the online “eCO” system that information about your work including title, date created, author name(s), etc., along with any other details that are necessary to identify it properly (such as publication date). If there is more than one author involved in creating this work then all of their names should be listed here too so they can also receive credit for what they have created. It’s important that these details match up exactly between what you write down when filling out this form online versus adding them later after submitting everything else because otherwise, they won’t know who owns what rights are associated with each piece.


We hope that this article has given you an idea of how to register copyright in Washington. As you can see, it’s actually not as complicated as it might seem at first glance. You just need to make sure that all the information is accurate and complete before submitting your application. Once that’s done, registration should go smoothly.

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