U.S. Copyright Office - Frequently Asked Questions

U.S. Copyright Office is an office of public record for copyright registration and deposit of copyright material.
Completely wacky that we who visit the Music Business forum have not yet put together a stickie for those with basic (and advanced, for that matter) questions about copyright. Here's a first shot.

Please feel free to contribute useful links on basic copyright, particularly those that might expand the U.S.-centric focus presented below into a more global one, but let's see if we can keep it about copyright, and copyright only. The related business topics are too vast to try to tackle. Let's do First Things First.


Gearslutz is not a forum for lawyers, does not practice law, and does not give legal advice.
The information below is presented for education only.

  • What is copyright in the U.S. and how does it work?
  • Which form should I use?
  • What sorts of things are protected?
  • Can I do it online?
  • Does "poor man's copyright" really work?
  • What's the difference between Form PA and Form SR?
Answers to these and many, many other questions, answered in plain language and not legalese, are here:

U.S. Copyright FAQ
U.S. Copyright Office - Frequently Asked Questions

U.S. Copyright Office - Information Circulars, Factsheets, and FLs

And for those who wish to go even deeper:

U.S. Copyright main page
U.S. Copyright Office

And for those who aren't adverse to legalese:

U.S. Copyright Law, unabridged
U.S. Copyright Office - Copyright Law of the United States

This link is to a non-profit site (established by the Herb Albert Foundation) with written and video commentary from professionals who work throughout the industry, but many legal practicioners are featured — a great way to make all this info much less intimidating:
Welcome - ArtistshouseMusic

Something of the history of copyright, at least as a launching point for one's research, available here at the Wiki page:
Copyright - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The above links are unfortunately U.S.-centric. I'm hopeful that fellow Gearslutz from around the world can contribute copyright links which will expand this perspective in useful ways.