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  • What to Do About Copyrighting Your Site

    You know about the scrapers now – how do you protect yourself? Copyright. How does one go about protecting a copyright interest in a website?

    The precedent for online theft is starting to make a mark, and the trademark office and copyright office are having to implement special procedures to deal with protecting internet-related intellectual property.

    The Copyright Registration for Online Works is confuising for a beginner, so a short summary might help:

    Copyright protects original works of authorship fixed in a tangible film. Work does not become subject to copyright protection simply through the method of registration. Copyright protection exists for an eligible work only from the moment it is put in “fixed” form (written down, recorded, photographed).

    Howver, you should register your copyright for extra protection, and you have to be registered in order to sue infringers.

    The registry for online works protects online works such as websites if you follow the instructions here. For computer programs or automatic databases, the process is somewhat different.  The reason for a distinction is necessary because copyright protection for online works will extend only to the copyrightable content of the work identified as the subject of the copyright and deposited with the copyright office. Different rules apply for computer programs and automatic databases.

    How to Register

    Use the right application form. Form TX is for literary material; Form VA covers pictorial and graphic works; Form is intended for audiovisual material, including any sounds, music or lyrics; and Form SR represents sound recordings without visuals.

    If your website has a combination of teh above, use the form that corresponds to the type of work of which you have the most, or use multiple forms.

    Important Parts of the Application Form

    State the nature of the authorship – you will need to supply a short statement describing the original authorship being registered. Use proper terms such as “text,” “music,” “artwork,” Photographs,” “audiovisual material,” or “computer program.”

    State if your work is published or unpublished – in some cases, if you published previopusly without copyright you may have waived some minor rights, so you have to disclose if you have published the work in the past. In general, work posted to a website or blog is considered to be published, though there are exceptions to this rule.


    Your deposit material (the representative portion of your website) will be deposited with the Library of Congress. The Copyright Office guidelines state that you will need to deposit one of the following:

    Aa computer disk (labelled with the title and author) containing the entire work (i.e., the html pages and graphic and other files), along with representative non computerized versions of the website that (screen prints, audiocassettes or videotape). Websites smaller than five pages or three minutes of taped material should be represented in full. Larger websites should deposit representative bits totaling five pages or three minutes of tape.

    Your other choice is to furnish a reproduction of the entire work, regardless of length. This could be a printout, audio cassette, or videotape. No computer disk is required in this case. If your website is a reproduction of an offline work (a book, self cut CD, etc) the deposit requirements for the offline work will supercede these rules.


    You must submit a check or money order for $30 payable to the Register of Copyrights, and mail the whole package, as directed on your application, to: Register of Copyrights, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20559-6000.

    This covers what is deposited, so if you update your site significantly you will need to re-register and pay the fee again. If you update daily or weekly, you may be able to qualify for a ‘group’ registration
    at a reduced rate.

    Copyrighting your website enables you to sue scrapers or others who steal your content.

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