Copyright Registration Benefits
Under current U.S. law, copyright protection exists as soon as the work is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. It is no longer necessary to apply for copyright registration to have the basic protection of copyright ownership. However, in many cases it still makes sense for an author of a work to register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office.
What are the benefits of copyright registration?
Even though copyright protection is obtained automatically upon creation of the work, there are certain definite advantages to copyright registration. If one or more of the following reasons applies to your situation, consider registering your copyright:
- Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim. Although there are other ways to establish your copyright claim, such as through witness testimony or other evidence, it is hard to beat the certainty of a public record.
- An infringement lawsuit cannot be brought in court for works of U.S. origin until after the owner of the copyright has registered the copyright.
- If registration is made before or within five years of publication of the work, it establishes prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate of copyright registration.
- If registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. In many cases, statutory damages and attorney's fees are much higher than any actual monetary damages that can be proven to have occurred as a result of the infringement.
- Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U.S. Customs Service for protection against importation of infringing copies.
In light of the substantial benefits of copyright registration, and the relative ease and low cost of registration, registering your copyright still makes good sense in many cases.