How to Copyright Poetry

A copyright exists at the time your literary work is created. However, it is recommended that you register your copyright claim. Registration is not required but is necessary to establish a public record of your copyright claim and needed when filing an infringement suit in court. There are different methods and basic steps for copyright registration.

The steps below assume that you are a US citizen and only wish to register with the US Copyright Office, but different services are of course available that cover works outside the US. A Google search for 'register copyright' (or similar) will provide links to tons of IP witnessing services. Also see the tips at the end of this article for more.


  1. Image titled Copyright Poetry Step 1
    Complete an application for copyright registration with U.S. Copyright Office (CO). There are 3 ways to register basic claims:
    • Register online through eCO (electronic Copyright Office). This option is the preferred way because it costs less, it's faster, you can track your status online, and payment method is secure. Go to and click on "Registration."
    • Register basic claims with Fill-in Form CO. This option uses a barcode scanning technology. For literary works, complete the Form TX on your computer, print and mail. The forms are available at
    • Register using paper forms. You can request a copy and they will be sent in the mail. You need to request Form TX for literary works and send them to Library of Congress, U.S. Copyright Office, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington DC 20559-6222.
  2. Image titled Copyright Poetry Step 2
    Send your payment.
    • Fee for registration using eCO is $35 for a basic claim. You can either pay with an electronic check or use debit or credit card at
    • For Forms CO, the fee is $50 and Form TX with paper filing is $65. Send your check or money order.
  3. Image titled Copyright Poetry Step 3
    Submit your work or deposit of copyright material.
    • For online registration using eCO, you can upload categories of your deposit or attach an electronic file of a copy of your deposit. If you don't have an electronic copy or need to send the hard copy, print a shipping slip, attach it to your deposit and mail the deposit to U.S. Copyright Office at the address above.
    • If you're using Form CO or paper filing, you must mail the form and include the fee and deposit in the same package to U.S. Copyright Office at the address above.


  • It is often possible to submit a collection of poems together as one application, (rather than individual poems), this can be a huge saving as it is normally possible to register the whole collection for a single fee. (see Registration advice centre - collections as an example of this).
  • For those outside the US, most registration services are independent witnessing companies. There are a lot of competing services and it can be daunting - there is an article 'where to register copyright' that has further guidance on choosing a witnessing service.
  • To use eCO, turn off your browser's pop-up blocker and close 3rd party toolbars (Yahoo, Google, etc.).
  • If you want copyright protection in a specific country, find out the nature of copyright relations of that country with U.S. For a complete list of countries in agreement with U.S., see the International Copyright Relations of United States listing online.
  • For guidance on international copyright and registration requirements, the World Intellectual Property Organisation provides a Directory of Intellectual Property Offices


  • Do not use a saved copy of filled-out form CO for another registration. Each time you register, you will have a unique barcode.
  • Do not use screen shots or print screen to generate Form CO. You can make photocopies of blank application forms.

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Categories: Publishing