Requirements for copyright protection?

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  • The work must be an original work of authorship and fixed in a tangible medium. 



  • pardon me for pigging backing on this question, but it seems my question is not posting and I don't see a moderator to help.  Maybe you could find a moment to give me some insight?


    I have long copyrighted songs by emailing the song in mp3 format as an attachment to an email I send to another email address I have with my claim of authorship in the body of the email; then I don't open it on the recipient email side.  Is this sufficient to claim copyright and would it be recognized in a court?  I am trying to defray costs as the copyright office now charges $65 for a copyright.  I appreciate any insight.  Thanks - Rob

  • Hi Rob,

    It takes a while sometimes for your question to post.

    Mailing or emailing your work to yourself is commonly known as "poor man's copyright." Unfortunately, it doesn't count. Under current U.S. Copyright Law, your work is protected by copyright from the moment you create it, as long as it's an orginal work in a fixed and tangible medium. The copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years. The problem is that if you eventually commercialize your work, it will have to be registered, or you would not be able to sue an infringer in court plus be awarded the statutory damages you deserve.

    I hope this helps.


  • Thank you so much for your informative reply.  I guess what I don't understand is why if I have emailed the song on a certain date and can establish that in court why it wouldn't be seen as a "fixed and tangible medium", and that it would not enable me to sue or collect damages.  Why is producing an email record of transmission of the material not sufficient to establish the claim, as opposed to registering with the copyright office?

    Thanks again, it's very helpful.

  • Here is a blog post and 2014 article on the topic: and

    Best wishes,


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