Copyrights – The Cold, Hard Truth

If you have been scratching your head (or elsewhere) wondering if the United States Copyright Office has ever received or processed your application, you may be encouraged to know that on August 15, 2011, I received my official Certificate of Registration for the “I Am the Village” song. This was a 3+ year application process, and although it was a long one, I would like to encourage my fellow “creatives” to go through the motions and not panic if you do not get an immediate reply.

Folks, there is no conspiracy theory here and I am here to confirm that it is highly unlikely that your copyright application did not get lost in the mail. The cold, hard truth about copyrights is that it actually does take that long sometimes. My recommendation is — don’t begrudge it, just plan ahead and apply as soon as possible. Mind you, I used snail mail and no lawyer. Yes, I do have a favorite local lawyer, Patrick O’Fiel, P.C., but no use using up my favors. The “word on the street” says that a copyright response is much faster now; as fast as a year and a half if you apply online.

If you have done your due diligence and have a paper trail of certified and/or delivery confirmations, I am convinced that you will eventually get a response regarding your copyright application. Admittedly, it might say, “Dear Dumbass — You did it all wrong. You have 60 days to reply.” At one point, I did receive a letter somewhat like this. For the record, it’s worth replying to and waiting for again — the Library of Congress United States Copyright Office completely dissected my application to my benefit. They had direct questions that were pertinent to my case as well as a real person assigned to my case who actually signed the response letter (and I am very astute at detecting graphically enhanced signatures). He even had a real contact email and phone number!

Should you receive a question here on the way to receiving your copyright, don’t forget some kind of delivery confirmation. Deny the urge to grab a Bud Light and “forget it, Man.” At this point, you are Dorothy with the glass slippers and there’s no place like… your filing cabinet?

No matter how long it takes, receiving a copyright is the artist’s “icing on the cake,” the thing you toast to when you get it. If it is not a big deal to you, don’t worry, your nieces, nephews, and/or grandchildren will brag about it for you in the hereafter. It’s a part of your legacy.