Guide to Copyright Searches

Guide to Copyright Searches

Guide to Copyright Searches

What is a Copyright Search?
A copyright is a set of exclusive rights, which provide legal protection to an author, artist or creator of a unique work. 
A copyright is a form of intellectual property protection that ensures the original creator protection against unfair duplication, alteration or distribution for any purpose.
The specific laws attached to a copyright will fluctuate based on jurisdiction; however, all copyrights are generally acknowledged through a universal lens in regards to the copyright’s establishment and protection capabilities. 
In the majority of situations, a copyright for a work of art is established from the moment the work is created, although many artists affirm their creation by registering their works with a private agency or governing body. This action will concretely establish a copyright protection.
Before an individual tangibly creates a work of art—whether it be a painting, a poem, a musical recording or a sculpture—he or she must perform a copyright search to ensure that the intended work has not already been copyrighted or created. The difficulty attached to executing the copyright search will depend on location; copyright laws will fluctuate based on jurisdiction. In a general sense; however, an individual may perform a copyright search by contacting the particular office or governmental agency that is involved with copyright registration for their given location.
In essence, the copyright search is enacted by initiating an online search of a government’s copyright database; when initiated, by entering details regarding the intended work, the agency will electronically sort and sift through hundreds of thousands of copyrighted works to reveal any similarities with the proposed work. If the intended work matches something previously copyrighted or registered, the individual engaging in the copyright search will have to alter or scrap the idea.
How do I Perform a Copyright Search?
In the United States, an individual can perform a copyright search by visiting the United States Copyright Office’s website and conducting an expedited catalog search. Similar to searches on Google or other popular search engines, the United States Copyright Office will utilize algorithms to match keywords associated with the work to reveal any previous copyrights.
If you wish to perform a copyright search to determine if your work of art has been previously registered, you should begin at the website for your particular country’s copyright office or agency.As stated above, in the United States, the US Copyright Office’s website will provide a simple search function that will allow you to conduct a copyright search in an expedited manner. 
You can perform the copyright search by entering the name of the artwork, a particular company or artist associated with the work, a registration number for a copyright or various keywords related to the work.
Step by Step Guide to Performing a Copyright Search in the United States:
In the United States, the first step to performing a copyright search is to visiting the Copyright Office at When you reach the site, click on the “Search Records” tab at the top right of the navigation menu bar. Next, click on the “Search the Catalog” button under the “Online Records” section on the left side of the screen. 
When you reach the catalog type a name into the search field or select another option to search by “Registration Number,” “Document Number,” “Keyword,” or “Command keyword. Repeat these searches until you are sufficient with your copyright search.

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