The U.S. Copyright Office (“USCO”) may have implemented an online copyright application system a little more than a year ago, but there are still some serious bugs in the system that need to be worked out. Here are a few important tips to keep in mind when filing a copyright application online: print out and keep hard copies of (1) your copyright application; (2) the application filing receipt you receive by email from USCO after you file your application; (3) the fee payment receipt you receive from USCO; and the deposit specimen receipt you receive from USCO. Keep all the hard copies in a safe and easy-to-locate place until you receive your actual registration certificate. Why? Because it will probably take USCO anywhere from 12-18 months to process your application and issue the actual Copyright Registration Certificate. In the meantime you may need your complete copyright application package if you need to prove to anyone – including a court – when you filed your application and that you filed everything properly. Along those lines, be sure to keep an exact copy of the work (screenplay, novel, computer program, illustrations, etc.) you submitted to USCO with your copyright application. The reason: since authors and creators often develop different versions of the original work, it is vitally important to be able to prove exactly what version of your work you submitted with your copyright application.
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