How to: Registering the Copyright of your poetry

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How to: Registering the Copyright of your poetry

Post by Berlie » Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:11 pm

Here is a quick how to guide on registering the copyright on your poetry:

Here is a quick how to guide:

1. Download the Short Form TX here:

You can also request for them to be mailed to you at

You will need Adobe Reader to view.

This should be the correct form for 95% of the members here. This form is good for a collection of poetry by one author that does not contain a substantial amount of work that has previously been published.

2. Print the form out on white paper. You only want to send in the actual form part, not the instructions part.

3. Fill it out completely using black or blue ink. Instructions on filling it out are included.

4. Take all of the poetry you wish to include under this copyright application and put it into a Word document or similar word processing program. It doesn't need to look fancy or in a traditional print ready book format. Just a standard document with all of your poems with their titles.

The first page should have the title of the collection and your name.

For instance

<center>The Collected Poetry of Jane Doe

by Jane Doe</center>

5. Print out a good clean copy of this document on 8 1/2 x 11 paper.

6. Bind it, either two staples on the left hand side or take it to someplace like Kinkos to have them apply a bind to it.

7. Send the copy of your collection, the application and the fee to the address listed on the form. You can find the current fees at
Look for the fee for the form you are sending in. In this case it is Short Form TX and the current fee is $45.

8. After processing your application the Copyright Office will send you a Copyright Certificate for your work.

To register the copyright of a published book of your poetry you will want to use Form TX (not the short form), You can download the form at: You should print out the form on a single sheet of paper (back to back) not two sheets. That is the form part, not the instruction part.

You will need to fill that out then send it in with two good copies of the published book. The fee is the same as the short form.

Thats it. You will then be legally protected against someone stealing your work and can take someone to court and sue their butts if they violate your copyright.

"Poor Man's" Copyright

There is a common belief that mailing yourself a copy of your work and not breaking the seal is sufficient to prove copyright. This is not true.

Below is what the US Copyright Office has to say on this practice: ... ml#poorman
I’ve heard about a “poor man’s copyright.” What is it?
The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.
What Do I Do If My Copyright Has Been Infringed?
Serving primarily as an office of record, the Copyright Office is not charged with enforcing the law it administers. Copyright infringement is generally a civil matter, which the copyright owner must pursue in federal court. Under certain circumstances, the infringement may also constitute a criminal misdemeanor or felony, which would be prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

If you believe that your copyright has been infringed and you anticipate a legal dispute, if you have not yet done so, it is advisable that a registration be made as soon as possible in order to secure the opportunity for valuable remedies and litigation advantages available for timely registration under the Copyright Act. If a work is registered prior to infringement or within three months of publication, statutory damages will be available as an option for monetary relief, and the recovery for attorney’s fees may be available. In addition, a registration made before or within five years of publication of the work provides a presumption of the validity of the copyright and the facts stated within the registration certificate. A certificate of registration (or a rejection of an application for copyright) is a prerequisite for U.S. authors seeking to initiate a suit for copyright infringement in federal district court. See Circular 1 Copyright Basics, and sections 410, 411, and 412 of the copyright law.

Please be advised that there is no provision in the copyright law or the practices of the Copyright Office regarding any type of protection known as the “poor man's copyright.” The mere act of placing a copy in the mail addressed to oneself does not secure statutory copyright protection for the work, nor will it serve as a substitute for registration of a claim to copyright in this Office in terms of legal and evidentiary value.
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