Protecting Copyright Registering with the Copyright Office

In order to register with the Copyright Office, you must first decide on a designation for your material. Each classification requires different forms, and has a different definition. The steps taken are basically the same, with slight variations according to form of material to be copyrighted.

LITERARY WORKS: These may be either published or unpublished works, with or without illustrations. Computer programs and data-bases belong in this category. You will need to fill out a form (either Form TX, Short-form TX or Form CON)corresponding to the type of material you are submitting. The US Copyright Office has in-depth details on which forms will work for your project.

VISUAL ARTS: This category includes pictorial, graphic and sculpture; both two-dimensional and three-dimensional works. Some architecture has been classified as ‘Visual Art’. You must fill out the appropriate application (Form VA or Form CON) depending on substance of your work.

PERFORMING ARTS: Performing Arts are classified as works intended to be performed directly in front of an audience, or “by means of any device or process” (US Copyright Office). These include: 1) Musical works, including any accompanying words, 2) Dramatic Works such as a script and any accompanying music, 3) Pantomime or Choreographic Works or 4) Motion Pictures or any other audio-visual works. The forms to be submitted are either Form PA, Short-Form PA or Form CON.

SOUND RECORDINGS: These are “Works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken or other sounds, but not including sounds accompanying motion pictures or other audio-visual works.” Fill out either Form SR or Form CON.

SERIALS AND PERIODICALS: This group includes periodicals, newspapers, magazines or other works. They must be serial works, intended to be presented in chronological order and without a definitive end. This classification has a wider range of forms to choose from. For single issues, use Form SE, Short Form SE or Form CON. For group issues that meet certain conditions you may fill out Form SE/Group. Group daily newspapers and magazines must meet certain conditions, and the form used is Form G/DN.

For each of these categories, the steps taken are these:
1. Complete the appropriate application form
2. Include a $45 payment
3. Submit a non-returnable copy or copies of the material(s) to be registered.
4. Place all of the these into one envelope or package and send to:
Library of Congress
Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20559-6000

Each of the forms have specifications for the type of copyright, and the information needed for the category. To find out which form is appropriate for your copyright submission, you can go to the US Copyright Office web page,, and check the details so that you can fill out the correct application.