Protecting your intellectual property (IP) is an important step once you’ve finished your script. If you’ve already registered your work with the federal copyright office, then good for you! You’re already ahead of the game. If not, it’s a step you should take right away.

Still, you might be wondering if it’s safe to start sending out your script to producers, even if you haven’t received your copyright certificate. Here’s how it works.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Copyright Certificate?

The United States Copyright Office has a simple online registration system that you can fill out in just a few minutes. You can easily submit your application and payment to protect your work. Once you’ve filed your copyright request, you should get a certificate in the mail that proves you own the copyright to your script.

While the process of applying for copyright registration is quick and easy, it could take a long time for your certificate to arrive. You can expect to wait from 3 to 9 months before it comes in the mail. Most people get their certificate after about four months.

Is it Safe to Send Out a Script With No Certificate?

If you’re excited to start sending your script to producers, but you’re worried about someone stealing your work, what should you do? Should you wait until you get your copyright certificate in the mail, or is it safe to send out your work as soon as you apply for the registration?

Generally, it’s not too risky to start sending out your script as soon as you’ve submitted your registration application. Even if it takes your certificate nine months to arrive, it will list the registration date as the day you submitted the online application, not the date it was printed.

Not only is your work protected from the date of your application, but remember that it wouldn’t be a quick process for someone to steal your script and make a movie out of it before your certificate comes. While you won’t have irrefutable proof that the script is your work until the certificate arrives, it’s unlikely that anyone would try to pass it off as their own in that timeframe.

Will a Copyright Certificate Protect Your Work?

Registering your copyright will allow you to prove that you created the work if you are ever the victim of copyright infringement. If you register your copyright before infringement or immediately after publication, it also provides the opportunity to collect additional damages in a lawsuit.

To learn more about protecting your scripts, contact our Beverly Hills, CA law firm at 323-230-6200. Our experienced Southern California Business attorneys can help you with everything from copyright infringement to entertainment contracts.