Haha, this topic is about Copyrights and I forget how I got this but it was in my e-mail for the longest time so hopefully it's still very relevant! Anyway, As an artist and someone that is actually paranoid about something like this happening, I was happy to stumble upon my friends journal entry. It was a good refresher course because I've done some research on this because I wanted to register something but that way she had it set up was VERY convenient with all the steps and links in one page. So here it is:
Officially registering your copyright
Okay, so yesterday I wrote about how the latest and most disturbing trend in art theft is the fact that ad designers and magazines are starting to harvest works that they find online without asking permission and without paying you regardless how how much money they've make from the hackwork they slapped together using your art.
In that entry I talked about how to make your artwork unappealing to these lazy thieves who are searching for a shortcut to their next paycheck, but in one of the comments somebody mentioned mailing your work to yourself and keeping the envelope sealed as proof of ownership.
While this is better than nothing, a court of law can discard that as inadequate; they might not, but the fact remains that they can.
The best way to establish a record of a public claim of copyright is to actually file your copyright. Somebody asked me how you would go about that, so today I'm going to show you the procedure.
For the purposes of this journal I'll outline the United States Copyright Office registration procedure for Visual Art Works. The registration for other works is similar and mostly require different forms and slightly different information.
So you want to file a copyright on a Visual Art Work?
First you'll want to fill out Form VA
Yes it's a four page form that reads like your tax return but it's not that difficult to fill out.
Space 1: Title
This where you put the name of your work.
If your work is or was called by another title they have a space for that and if you were published in a magazine (voluntarily mind you- not ripped off by one) you need to fill in that area too.
Space 2: Author(s)
This is information about you and anybody else who might have helped.
To simplify things write your actual name where indicated. If you routinely sign only your account name on your works you may want to write both here (example, Andy Example whose pseudonym is AndyAardvarrk).
You also must fill in your date of birth. Ignore the year of death unless you currently count yourself among the ranks of the undead.
Most likely you will answer No on the "work made for hire" question.
Give either your citizenship or the country where you are living.
Next you have to select Yes or No for both Anonymous? and Pseudonymous? questions. This is asking whether you actually put your name on the actual work, left it blank or used a fake name. If you didn't sign your work (shame shame) check Yes on Anonymous?. If you signed it with a pseudonym (like "AndyAardvarrk" for example) then check Yes for Pseudonymous?.
Lastly just check what it is you made.
If somebody helped you or collaborated then have them fill in their information also.
Space 3: Creation and Publication
This is where you give information about the day you finished the work, and the day that you published it.
Section A here is the day you finished the work. Pretty simple; just use the standard month/day/year format you use everywhere else.
Section B here is the day that you published the work, for most of you this would be the day you first placed it online where the public could see it unrestricted. This date, by the way, starts the clock ticking as far as "timely registration" which can affect certain copyright lawsuits which you might file. I won't try to explain this here.
Space 5: Previous Registration
This section should be pretty clear; most of you will be checking the No box.
Space 6: Derivative Work or Compliation
I'm going to assume that most of you are creation 100% original works and you aren't using stock resources or anything like that. If you are, then you have it easy- just skip over this part and thumb your nose at the photomanipulators and the people deliberately copying from other sources who have to list all of their resources (preexisting material), and talk about what they personally added or changed themselves.
Happy writing guys.
Space 7,8,9: Fee, Correspondence, Certification, Return Address
These sections are pretty simple also.
Most of you aren't going to be maintaining a Deposit Account with the Copyright Office so leave A section 7 blank and in b tell the kind people at the Copyright Office how to get in touch with you in the event that you confuse the hell out of them.
In section 8 you get to clearly state that what you are registering is actually your property. If you lie here your thieving ass can get chucked into jail. Make certain that you give a handwritten signature and you date it otherwise they'll reject the application.
In section 9 you give them the address of where you want your shiny new Copyright Certificate to be sent (in the event that your application isn't rejected of course).
More Space Plz
If for any reason you need more space because you write with your feet or any other reason, don't get creative in how to smoosh everything in just grab Form CON and keep writing.
Make out a check for (as of this writing) $45 payable to "Register of Copyrights."
Collect one or two prints of your work.
Make them the biggest, best examples of your work that you have available and make certain nothing is cropped out.
Send the Package
Put everything into the same envelope or package (don't you wish those prints were smaller now?) and send the package to:
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
Your registration becomes effective on the day that the Copyright Office receives your application, payment, and copy(ies) in acceptable form. If your submission is in order and they don't reject it for one reason or another, you will receive a certificate of registration in approximately 4 months.