Copyright vests automatically in an original work once it is ‘fixed’ in a tangible form. While copyright vests automatically, it can also be advantageous to register an original work for copyright registration with the US Copyright Office. Registering a work with the US Copyright Office is not a requirement but it can be beneficial for the following reasons:
- Registration with the US Copyright Office establishes a public record of the basic facts including ownership of an original work.
- Before an lawsuit may be filed against someone infringing your work, registration is necessary with the US Copyright Office for works of US origin.
- If registration is made within 3 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. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
- If registration is made within 5 years of publication of the work, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
- Registration with the US Copyright Office allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the US Customs Service for protection against importation of infringing copies.
It is possible to file for US Copyright Registration at anytime within the life of the copyrighted work. Currently, it only costs $35 to file an application with the US Copyright Office for registration.
The term of copyright protection for a work created on or after January 1, 1978 is for the life of the author plus 70 years (or if a work is made for hire the term of copyright protection is 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first.)
Wishing all of you reading this post a Happy New Year! Starting off the new year with a reminder that all your original creative content that is written down, drawn, painted, recorded, sculpted or otherwise fixed… is automatically vested with copyright feels auspicious. As detailed above, taking the extra step to register your work with the US Copyright Office can be beneficial.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
For more information see, Circular 1, Copyright Basics; Circular 15A, Duration of Copyright. and all the information circulars and fact sheets available at the US Copyright Office website: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/; and also an earlier post “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35“; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.