Claims to copyright in published and unpublished poetry can be registered as literary works in the Copyright Office. See sl-35, Registering a Copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, for how to apply for copyright registration.
Published collections of poetry and all other copyrightable elements of a unit of publication can be registered on a single application with a single fee if all the poems are owned by the same copyright claimant. Unpublished collections of two or more poems can be registered on a single application with a single fee and a deposit of one complete copy or phonorecord of the collection if all the following conditions are met:
- the elements are assembled in an orderly form;
- the combined elements bear a single title identifying the collection as a whole;
- the copyright claimant in all of the elements and in the collection is the same; and all the elements are by the same author or, if they are by different authors, at least one of the authors has contributed copyrightable authorship to each of the elements.
Registration of an unpublished collection of poems extends the benefits of registration to each copyrightable selection in the collection, but only the collection title appears in the Copyright Office’s catalogs and indexes.
See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, for more information about copyright, deposit requirements, and registration procedures.
FL-106, Reviewed 01/2011