Although registration is not a legal requirement for a copyright to exist, there are many important advantages of federal copyright registration. A copyright must be timely registered in order to take legal action against an act of infringement. Without federal registration, you cannot legally prevent someone from copying or using your original work.
Advantages of federal copyright registration include:
- Copyright registration establishes a public record of your copyright.
- Your copyright must be registered in order to take legal action against an act of infringement.
- If registered within five years of publication, your registration certificate is prima facie evidence of the validity of your copyright.
- If registered within three months of publication or before an infringement occurs, once proven, statutory damages of up to $150,000 plus attorney’s fees could be awarded to you as copyright owner, even if your actual damages are minimal.
- Registration provides powerful ammunition against potential infringement.
- If you don’t register your copyright and someone else claims your work as their own, you will have to prove that it is actually yours. Registration avoids this burden of proof.
- Copyright encourages creativity by giving exclusive property rights to “works of authorship,” enabling the creator to reap financial rewards from their works by controlling access to the works in the marketplace.
The United States has copyright treaties with most countries throughout the world, and as a result of these agreements, each country respects the copyrights of the others. Currently, a U.S. copyright is honored in 190 countries around the world.
For more information on registering your works with the US Copyright Office, click here.