You’ve finally completed your version of the great American novel, and after years of hard work, you want to protect your masterpiece with something called a “copyright.” The good news is that, in the United States, copyrights are automatic. As soon as the creator of an original work commits that work to a fixed form such as paper, audio, video or computer disk, the work becomes the legal property of the creator, in most instances. However, since copyright protection is automatic, you may be asking why you should spend the time and money to claim and register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. The answer is to ensure legal recourse and secure material control.
Probably the best reason to obtain a registered copyright is to protect your legal rights. Registering your copyright ensures the following avenues of legal recourse.
1. It’s Required – Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is required in order for you to seek legal recourse in the event of copyright infringement.
2. U.S. Customs – Legally registered copyrights can be recorded with the U.S. Customs service to prevent infringed copies from entering the United States.3. Public Record – A public record of your ownership is established by the inclusion of your copyright in the U.S. Copyright Office Catalog, which means that your copyright will appear in any copyright searches conducted by others.
4. Legal Proof – Obtaining a registered copyright provides legal proof of ownership, which serves to maximize your damages and minimize your legal burden should you be involved in an infringement lawsuit.
5. “Cease and Desist” – In the case of infringement, registration of your copyright gives you the power to serve “Cease and Desist” letters that threaten further legal action if the infringer doesn’t comply.
In addition to providing stronger legal recourse, officially and legally registering your copyright further secures your personal control over the material you created.
6. Production – As the original author and creator of the copyrighted work, you alone maintain control over who is allowed to copy, display, distribute, perform or make use of your work in any other way possible.
7. Related Works – Registering your copyright further ensures that, legally, you are the only person who is allowed to produce sequels, create adaptations or publish reinterpretations of the original work.
8. Ownership Transfer – A legally registered copyright allows you to more easily transfer ownership of your copyright to someone else permanently or temporarily, as well as make it easier to grant and enforce limited-use licensing.
9. Lifetime Ownership – By registering a copyright for your original work, you establish legal ownership of that work for the duration of your life plus an additional 70 years. By doing this, you allow your heirs, estate or trust the ability to further protect your creation.
10. Library of Congress – All registered published works require the submission of (a deposit of) one or more copies of the original work to be filed in the United States Copyright Office for the express use of the United States Library of Congress.
Whether your work is published or unpublished, and regardless of the fact that automatic copyrights ensue when your work is committed to a fixed form, claiming and registering that copyright with the United States Copyright Office offers many extra advantages. Copyright registration is a simple, inexpensive process that requires submission of three items: a properly completed copyright application, a nominal, nonrefundable filing fee and the deposit of the appropriate number of copies of the work to be registered. With the simplicity and affordability of the application process, it makes sense to obtain the extra protection provided by claiming and registering your copyright with the United States Copyright Office.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.