Saturday, January 5, 2008

Time to register those copyrights (online)

You know who you are. You've written a bunch of plays, or even a novel or two, but it just always seems like such a hassle to actually get the US Copyright forms and mail them in, and plus the fee is so darn high. The basic fee is up to $45. (Ouch!) Sure, if you have a bunch of short plays, you can register them collectively, but that's sort of a pain, too, isn't it?

Okay, so the protection is important, and without registration you can't get as much damages in a lawsuit. You need to do it, but it's a little like finding a lawyer to put together your will--backburner.

Getting Pumpkin Patch picked up by Playscripts forced me to get off my butt and register the darn thing (they require it, or else they'll do it for you, deducting the amount from your royalties). I had the packets all ready to go, but then on the Copyright Office web site, I noticed that they now are offering the chance to register on-line, in a beta testing version, and you only have to pay $35.

To do it, you have to request to be added, then activate your account, etc. But it's not too tough. This morning, I registered two of my plays which should have been registered ages ago. The site is slow and definitely not slick. It's very important to have the pop-up blockers off on your browser (I found this out the hard way). And don't try clicking the "add me" button, because it makes the damn thing crash. You have to type your name and address a zillion times (I think I figured out how to use the template option, but only after I'd hung the site up a few times and finally finished registering both scripts). I paid by credit card and even uploaded my files to the site, rather than having to mail in hardcopies.

It's not a perfect experience, but it'll save you a couple bucks and a trip to the post office and copy costs. To give it a try, go here:

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