Skip to Main Content

Copyright Registration: Home

Assistance with registration for copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office is provided here.

Copyright Ownership under U.S. Law

In the United States, registration is not necessary for copyright ownership. You own the copyright to your original creative work from the first draft to the final edit, and it lasts from that moment until 70 years after your death. Requirements under the law are "originality" and "fixation." Your work must be your own original creation, not copied from someone else, and it only requires a minimum level of creativity for protection. Your work also must be fixed in some way that can be perceived by human senses--it can be written on paper, sculpted, recorded, or saved to your drive.

However registration can offers some benefits. One of these benefits is the eligibility to receive statutory damages if you ever need to sue someone else for copyright infringement--if someone steals your work without permission and it impacts your own work. See more on the Benefits of Copyright Registration at Copyright Alliance.

Registering Your Copyright

  • Access the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) portal to register your work. Once there, click on the link that reads Log in to the Electronic Copyright Office (eOC) Registration System.
  • If you have never used this system before, you will need to register to obtain a log in.
  • Once you are logged in, click on Standard Application under Copyright Registration / Register a work.
  • Proceed with registering your work, including payment and upload. Below are some tips:
    1. Almost all theses and dissertations are considered primarily Literary Works, even though you may have included original artwork, photographs, musical scores, or computer programs.

    2. The determination as to whether or not your thesis or dissertation is published is left to you as the author to decide. You may choose to indicate it is unpublished. See What is Considered Published? from the Copyright Alliance for more information.

    3. Unless created under unusual circumstances, your thesis or dissertation is not considered a Work for Hire.

    4. Indicate the inclusion of the work of other creators, including text, artwork, photographs, and/or computer programs, by checking the appropriate boxes. Your work will contain original text but also may include original artwork, photographs, and/or computer programs created by you; indicate that by checking the appropriate boxes.

    5. You will want to be the contact person for Rights & Permissions, Correspondence, and to have the Certificate mailed to you. Click Add Me.

    6. Generally, you will not have to request special handling.

    7. Review the details of your submission, then add it to the cart.

    8. Submit payment.

    9. Upload your work, including any supplemental files.