Why and How to Copyright

Why and How Should Authors Copyright Their Books in the United States of America?

When you have created something unique or original out of your imagination, you need to ensure that it is protected, whether published or unpublished. Quite contrary to the common notion, sending yourself the original copy of your creative work through certified mail is not the most reliable way of obtaining the copyright of that work. Although one automatically has the these rights from the moment the work is created and fixed in a tangible form, for legal protection, potential lawsuits and peace of mind, it is highly recommended that one registers with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Why Should Authors Copyright Their Books?

A proper copyright registration turns out to be an affordable insurance policy for your original work.
Here are some of the benefits of copyrighting your work:

  • The process of Copyright Registration helps establish a public record of your book’s copyright.
  • Until you have properly registered your work within the Copyright Office in the United States, you are not allowed to sue someone for any sort of copyright infringement. 


  • No award for attorney fees or the statutory damages will be put forth towards the infringement of the book’s copyright in case of an unpublished book. This occurs prior to the book’s copyright registration. The same principle stands grounds in case of published books – unless the copyright registration is done within the period of three months after the first book’s publication. 


  • If the copyright registration of your work is completed within the period of five years from its original creation, it is regarded as “prima facie” evidence in the copyright law or court. This implies the copyright registration of your book will serve as the sufficient proof of your ownership of the book or the copyrighted material in court. 


  • The United States Copyright registrations of the books are recognized by as many as 167 other countries in the world. 


How to Copyright a Book?

Registration of the book’s copyright is relatively easy and inexpensive in comparison to the other forms of intellectual property protection. For registering your book or some other creative work, you are simply required to go to www.copyright.gov – the official website set up by the Library of Congress, USA. This is the online portal for registering copyrights for books and other original creative works. You are required to fill out the online form and pay a fee, which varies depending on the work you are registering.

When is the Copyright Registration of Your Book Effective?

The overall turnaround time by the US Copyright Office is around 6 months for online filings or registrations. For the offline paper filings, the turnaround time is around 22 months. However, the effective filing date for the copyright registration is the date that your request arrives at the Copyright Office in the United States – not when they process it. Under certain circumstances, you can also expedite the Copyright Registration of your book for an added fee.