How to Register a Copyright in Wisconsin


Copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works such as books and movies. Copyright laws in the United States protect both published and unpublished works. But even though you don’t need to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office to receive protection under federal law, it’s still advisable to do so because registering may help protect your work against infringement by others.

Register a Copyright in Wisconsin

If you live in Wisconsin and would like to register a copyright for your work, you must first apply for a Certificate of Registration in Madison by filling out an application form. The application form can be downloaded from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development website, or you can pick one up at any state agency office.

Once you have completed the application form, mail it along with copies of your work(s) to:

United States Copyright Office – Madison Copyright Office

750 North Tioga Street – Room N202 – Madison WI 53703-0003

Once your application is received by the U.S. Copyright Office (or if they see that there is no need for further action), they will send you an acknowledgment letter that lists all issues regarding their review process so far and what needs to be done next (if anything).

Benefits of Copyright Registration

Copyright registration will protect your original creative work from infringement.

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship” (including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works). This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. The copyright begins when an idea or concept is created in a fixed form that can be stored in such a way that it can be retrieved and communicated to others at a later time.

The author(s) may be individuals or businesses; however, a business must be organized under state law as an entity separate from its owners before it can claim any copyrights on the work produced by employees within its scope of operations (for example: if you are an employee who has written articles about your company’s products for publication on their website).

Where to Apply?

The next step is to apply for a copyright. You can do this through the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington D.C., or you can file it with your state if you live in Wisconsin.

To apply for federal copyright, you will need to fill out Form TX and pay $65 per work being registered (up to three works). You will also need to include two copies of your work along with the form, which can be an electronic copy as long as it contains all of the required information about your work—author name, the title of work, the year created, and physical address where it was created (if different from residence). To register online using eCO (Electronic Copyright Office), follow these steps:

  • Go to the official U.S. Copyright Office website at
  • Click on “Register Online” under “File Digital Forms Through eCO.”
  • Fill out all applicable fields using information that matches what’s on Form TX (and make sure there are no typos). Also, attach any necessary documents like photos or illustrations that show how your design is used when completed (website mockups would suffice in this case).

Do you need to File Copyright Paperwork?

However, your work is protected under federal law as soon as it is created and you don’t need to file copyright paperwork to be protected by the law (you do need to put the copyright symbol on your work).

So why register a copyright? To make sure that you get all of the legal benefits of having a registered copyright. These include the right to sue someone for infringing on your rights, receiving statutory damages and attorney’s fees in certain cases, and being able to claim foreign works as “derivative works” or adaptations.

It’s also Easier to Litigate Infringement

The primary benefit of registering your copyright is that it makes it easier to enforce your rights. When you file a copyright registration application, the Copyright Office sends you a certificate of registration and records the details in their database. The certificate serves as evidence that you have a valid claim on your work, which can assist in court if someone challenges your ownership of the copyright.

Your registration allows you to sue for damages in federal court, but there are limits on what kind of damages may be awarded under U.S. law: $150,000 per infringement and $30,000 per work infringed (if someone infringes more than one work), up to a maximum award of $15 million per case (this limit applies regardless of how many works were infringed). You can also get an injunction preventing further infringement or an order for the destruction of infringing materials by the court.

Be Sure to check with an Attorney

It is important to be sure that you have a good case before applying for a copyright. There are some cases where the use of a copyrighted work might not require consent from the owner (for example, if it’s in the public domain), but even if you think your case is good, it’s still worth speaking with an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law before applying. You can find an attorney by checking with local bar associations or doing an internet search.

If you decide that you do need to apply for copyright protection, there are several forms available on our website at The one used most often is Form VA (Application for Registration). The Copyright Office will provide instructions on how to complete these forms and what documentation they require along with them when they’re submitted electronically through their online system called eCO. If you’re mailing your application instead of submitting it electronically through eCO, then follow all other instructions provided by our office when filling out these forms; otherwise make sure that everything matches up exactly as shown in this guidebook (No matter which method you choose).


Copyright registration is an important step in protecting your work. If you are unsure whether or not your work qualifies for copyright protection, it is best to consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney.

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