The Importance of Copyright Registration
Many people wonder about registering a copyright. Is it necessary? What is the point? Since copyright attaches automatically, giving you legal rights to your work, why bother registering with the U.S. Copyright Office?
Registering your copyright provides creative artists with extra protection and valuable benefits in the event of a copyright infringement dispute. But for registration, these “extras” would be otherwise unavailable. Let’s look at why copyright registration is so important.
Registration Is Required If You Want To File A Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
You must register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office as a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit for infringement. Registering before any infringement occurs is extremely important since if you do not register timely, you will not be entitled to recover statutory damages or your attorneys’ fees and expenses associated with your lawsuit.
Applying is not sufficient to file your copyright infringement suit. Your registration must actually be granted by the U.S. Copyright Office. To meet the registration requirements, your work must be sufficiently original and you must also certify that you are the author and creator of the work.
If You Register Your Work Within Five Years, Valid Ownership Is Presumed
The first element the copyright holder has to prove in copyright infringement cases is ownership of copyright.
When you obtain registration before your work is “published” or within five years of “publication,” your registration certificate creates a legal presumption that your copyright is valid. The facts contained in the registration are considered true.
This presumption that your copyright is valid means that you don’t have to prove ownership. Instead, the burden falls on the other party to prove that you are NOT the copyright owner.
Copyright Registration Allows Copyright Owners to Collect Statutory Damages
In a successful copyright infringement case, you will be entitled to actual damages, or, if the registration occurred before the infringement, statutory damages at your election. Actual damages are the amount equal to the money you lost because of the infringement. You can also collect the amount of profit earned by the infringing party. Often times, actual damages can be difficult to calculate.
Statutory damages are an amount established by law. The court has the power to award between $750 and $30,000 for each copyrighted work that is infringed. In cases of willful copyright infringement, the court can increase statutory damages to $150,000. In cases involving statutory damages, courts will often use the fair market value of the copyright holder’s lost licensing fees as a basis and then multiply that value by three to five times. Thus, it is important to provide Sanders Law Group with any licensing fee information you have concerning the original work to help calculate an appropriate statutory damages award.
In addition to statutory damages, if you registered before the infringement, the court may also award attorneys’ fees and litigation costs as part of your award. In the context of photographs and videos, statutory damage awards are almost always higher than actual damage awards. However, in cases involving products or merchandise, you may wish to seek an actual damages award measured by the amount of the infringer’s profits earned from exploitation of the original work.
Here’s the catch – you can only collect statutory damages for infringement that occurs AFTER the date of your copyright registration. Thus, filing a timely registration – the earlier, the better – ensures you will be eligible to collect the maximum damages in the event of copyright infringement litigation.
Registering Copyright Creates A Public Record
By registering your copyright, you create a public record of your ownership of your work. This public record can make it difficult for someone to claim they did not know your work was copyrighted.
Your registration can also provide contact information for licensing opportunities for those who wish to pay to use your work lawfully.
Additional Benefits of Copyright Registration
Copyright registration is critical if you want to receive the full benefits of copyright laws. You never know when you will have to file a copyright infringement lawsuit, and having your registration in place provides critical legal presumptions and opens the door for maximum damages.
The reasons to register above should help you understand how important copyright registration is. But there are additional reasons to register your copyright, such as:
Obtaining Relief from the International Trade Commission –
A copyright owner can ask the International Trade Commission to investigate the import of infringing goods coming into the U.S. The copyright owner can also seek an exclusion order to stop the goods from entering the U.S.
Recording Copyright With Customs – Holders of registered copyrights can record the registered copyrights with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This can help protect against infringement occurring across the borders.
Call Sanders Law Group – Register Your Copyright For Maximum Legal Protection and Damages
Sanders Law Group represents creative artists of all types. If you are a photographer, videographer, fashion designer, graphic designer, or writer, we want to ensure you take advantage of the available ways to protect your original work and your legal rights.
Registering your copyright is a critical step in that process.
Call Sanders Law Group, copyright infringement lawyers, today at 888-348-3090 to get started on your copyright registration.