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How to Copyright a Poem

In the United States, under current copyright laws, the moment a poet creates a poem, and that work is "fixed in a copy or photorecord," the work falls under copyright protection. If the author needs to bring a lawsuit against someone who has plagiarized the work, the poet must first file a copyright registration.

Copyright a Poem

Things You Will Need

  • 2 envelopes
  • 2 postage stamps
  • Copy of poem
  • Pen

In the United States, under current copyright laws, the moment a poet creates a poem, and that work is "fixed in a copy or photorecord," the work falls under copyright protection.  If the author needs to bring a lawsuit against someone who has plagiarized the work, the poet must first file a copyright registration.

While a registration isn't necessary to assert you have rights, it is necessary prior to bringing legal action.  Securing a registration before plagiarism occurs not only makes it easier to prove ownership, it can determine what type of damages may be awarded.

  1. Request a copyright application by calling the U.S. Copyright Office, (202) 707-3000, or write to U.S. Copyright Office, 101 Independence Ave. S.E. Washington, D.C. 20559-6000. The forms can also be obtained at its website.
  2. Make a photocopy of the poem you wish to copyright.
  3. Prepare a check for a $45 payment.
  4. Complete the copyright application.
  5. Mail the application, a copy of your poem and the payment, to the return address specified in the copyright registration application form.
  6. Tip

    Registration affords the owner of the copyright the right to record with the U.S. Customs Service for importation protection. You also can file for a registration online by visiting the U.S. Copyright Office's website. Credit cards are accepted, fees are slightly less, and you must upload a copy of your work to the site.

Things You Will Need

  • 2 envelopes
  • 2 postage stamps
  • Copy of poem
  • Pen

Tips

  • Registration affords the owner of the copyright the right to record with the U.S. Customs Service for importation protection.
  • You also can file for a registration online by visiting the U.S. Copyright Office's website. Credit cards are accepted, fees are slightly less, and you must upload a copy of your work to the site.

About the Author

Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real-estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University, Fullerton.