Copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects “original works of authorship… including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works,” as described by the U.S. Copyright Office. These works include books, articles, poems, movies, songs, recordings, paintings, illustrations, sculpture, logo designs, website content, computer software and architecture.
In the U.S., this protection is granted for “original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” This means that the original work must have a perceptible manifestation in order for it to be copyrighted. A book, for example, is copyrighted whether it’s published or not, and whether it’s printed on paper or available on a device such as an e-reader.
But copyright protection is also important for businesses and documents. For example, sales presentations can be easily reproduced and a registered copyright may be helpful to enforce IP rights.
Copyrights grant the owner the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute copies of his work, as well as display and broadcast his copyrighted material. In today’s digital world, copyrights provide protection against piracy, meaning the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted content and images, that has become so fast and easy.
Copyright ownership also allows the owner to authorize others to exercise his IP rights.
Copyright protection is granted automatically the moment a work is created. Nevertheless, registration is highly recommended as it offers unique benefits.
Benefits of Copyright Registration
- Copyright enforcement. Copyright ownership means that you can protect your work as intellectual property and control who uses it and makes money off it. If you want to bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement, you must file for copyright registration before filing the lawsuit. Registration also usually proves to be helpful when serving a cease-and-desist letter in cases of infringement.
- Presumption of ownership. The registration satisfies a basic level of proof as to the validity of your copyright, and the facts stated in the registration certificate. Although it does not guarantee your claim to ownership, when it occurs within five years of publication, it gives you the presumption of copyright ownership. This presumption relieves you of the legal burden to prove your ownership, and means that anyone wishing to challenge your ownership will have the burden to demonstrate his claim.
- Statutory damages and attorneys’ fees under U.S. copyright law. To get these in the U.S.A., the copyrighted work must be registered before the infringement has started or, in the case of a published work, within 90 days of publication. The benefit of statutory damages is that you don’t need to calculate and prove the harm caused by an infringement, but instead there’s a pre-determined amount of damages for each work infringed. If you do not meet the conditions for statutory damages, as the plaintiff you must prove actual damages and are limited to what you can prove. Registration during the above period also qualifies a copyright owner to seek attorney fees and costs of suit in case of successful litigation.
- Public record of ownership. Registering a copyright creates a public record of copyright ownership. It records the copyright with a certificate of registration, and gives notice to all other parties that a work is protected by copyright and that you are the copyright owner. This is especially useful in the event that your ownership is challenged, or when someone wishes to license your work.
Copyright registration is relatively easy and inexpensive. After registration is approved, the owner gets a certificate. However, this may take months, so filing early can save valuable time. Also, as some benefits are time sensitive, it’s highly recommended that you register your work as quickly as possible after it’s created.
Also, as with other forms of IP protection, there are copyright agreements that may grant protection across territories. However, it’s advised to carefully examine copyright protection in each relevant territory.
Wiser Copyright Protection
Wiser Market offers professional online intellectual property protection with personal service to answer all your questions and needs. Our highly effective solutions keep your copyrights protected worldwide.
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