Copyright law protects original works of authorship, such as books, films, photographs, paintings, and even choreography. In most cases, when a person creates a work, they own the copyright for that work. However, a copyright owner only gains some important rights if they obtain a copyright registration from the U.S. Copyright Office.
Filing a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
Without a registration from the U.S. Copyright Office, you cannot sue for copyright infringement. Yes, you read that correctly. You must have a federal copyright registration in order to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Many copyright owners are not aware of this fact. If they discover that their work is being infringed, they will be unpleasantly surprised to find out that they are without legal recourse unless they file a copyright application. Although registration allows you to eventually file a lawsuit, not having the registration up front puts you at a significant disadvantage.
Access to Statutory Damages
A copyright owner cannot recover what are called “statutory damages” unless they have a copyright registration before the infringement occurs, in most cases. Statutory damages are significant, and can range from $750 to $30,000 per infringed work. If the copyright owner can show that the infringement was done willfully, then the court can award up to $150,000 per infringed work. A court can also award court costs to a plaintiff with a copyright registration, which can include attorney’s fees.
In addition to these rights, the copyright registration also serves to establish a public record of the copyright owner’s claim to their work. And it can be used in many cases as prima facie evidence that the copyright claim is valid. Obtaining a copyright registration helps to show that you are the copyright owner, should that fact ever come into question. You want the ability to easily show that the work is your own. You also want to be able to stop those that copy or claim your work as their own. Since that is the case, investing in a copyright registration certainly makes a lot of sense.
Do You Need a Copyright Registration To Protect Yourself From Copyright Infringement?
If you would like to speak with a copyright attorney that has experience working with the Copyright Office, and can assist you by preparing and filing your copyright application, please feel free to call me at (480) 360-3499, email me at email@example.com, or complete the contact form found on this page to schedule your free initial consultation today. I look forward to speaking with you.