When you finally finish a screenplay, it’s a great feeling. You have an original work that could potentially become a movie!

With all the value a script holds, it’s important to protect the work and ensure that you are recognized as the copyright holder. Getting your screenplay registered with the United States Copyright Office is the best way to protect it. But why and how do you register a screenplay?

Why Register Your Screenplays?

Your intellectual property is somewhat protected, even if you don’t register the copyright. You are the copyright holder, and the work belongs to you. However, if you are ever the target of copyright infringement, then you will need to register the work in order to file a lawsuit.

Registering your screenplays as you write them is a smart choice. You will have solid proof that you are the writer of the screenplay when you head into court. You will also be eligible for more compensation (in the form of attorneys fees and statutory damages) than you would if you registered after the infringement took place.

What’s the Process for Registering a Screenplay?

The United States Copyright Office has offered online registration for years, making it very simple and easy to protect your work. These are the basic steps you’ll complete in the online registration process:

  • Go to the U.S. Copyright Office website (copyright.gov)
  • Create an account or log in
  • Start a new registration
  • Pick the type of work (performing arts)
  • Add the title of the screenplay (it’s fine if it changes later)
  • Follow the prompts and answer the questions
  • Certify the information
  • Review your application
  • Save the application as a template (optional–but could save you time in the future)
  • Upload your work
  • Pay the registration fee

The copyright registration system has evolved over the years, and the system has features that allow you to easily submit your documents and payments and even track the status of your registrations. There’s no excuse for not registering your valuable screenplay!

How Long Does it Take to Register a Screenplay?

The process of registering the copyright for a screenplay only takes minutes, especially once you’ve registered a few scripts and created templates within the copyright office’s system that you can reuse over and over again. Your copyright will be registered on the day you submit the form, but you won’t get confirmation right away. It can take anywhere from 3-9 months to get your registration certificate in the mail.

If you need help protecting your scripts and understanding your rights, it’s a good idea to talk with an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles . They can help you with any questions you might have and represent you if you sell your script or file a copyright lawsuit. Call our Beverly Hills office at 323-230-6200 for a consultation today.