A copyright protects a creator of original works from unauthorized reproduction, which is increasingly important in the digital age. Original works can include literary works, sound recordings, musical works, movies, photographs, paintings, live performances, software and television or sound broadcasts. The copyright can cover both unpublished and published works.
Immediately after original works are created, they are automatically covered under copyright. Works are “created” once they exist in a physical form, or when they are first are “fixed” in a copy or a “phonorecord.” “Copies” refer to material objects on which the work can be read or perceived visually, such as manuscripts, books, film, sheet music and microfilm. “Phonorecords” refer to material objects that embody fixations of sounds, like CDs and LPs.
Advantages of Copyright Registration
A copyright registration isn’t necessary if you don’t claim copyright infringement, but it acts as a legal formality that makes the copyright a public record. There are several advantages to registration.
- With a copyright, you have the exclusive right to copy or reproduce the work, as well as to change its form, such as revising or updating the work or creating a sequel.
- Only you can display the work in public or perform the work; others will need to ask you first.
- Only you can distribute the work commercially.
- You can sell your controlling rights over a particular copyrighted work while still maintaining the original copyright. For instance, you can sell your rights to a movie but still keep the right to make a sequel.
- Registering lets others know the work belongs to you, as well as all rights of ownership.
- There are currently 20 foreign countries that require public notice of the claimed rights in order to give legal protection.
- Your work will enter the Library of Congress database.
- Before you sue for copyright infringement, or before a judge can step in to prevent someone from using your work, you have to register your work. The registration must be within three months after you first publish your work, or before the first occurrence of the infringement.
- If your infringement suit is successful, you are entitled to damages regardless of whether you can prove the amount of money you lost due to the infringement.
- If the suit is successful, the infringer must pay your lawyer.
Ensuring Your Copyright Registration Application Is Accepted
When you apply for your copyright registration, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind in order for the application to go through at the U.S. Copyright Office:
- Give Clear, Accurate Information: Make sure all your information is accurate when you fill out the application form for your claim to copyright. Read the instructions on the form carefully to ensure your information is clear. There is additional information available from the Copyright Office on specific topics.
- Use Black Ink or Type When Completing the Application: Your information must be dark enough for the office to copy it successfully. The office uses a photographic image from your application for the registration certificate. If the print in your application is of high quality, then your certificate will be high quality as well. Poor quality applications won’t be accepted.
- Complete Your Application Online: Applications can also be completed online. Forms can be found at the Copyright Office Website, and the applicant can key in the information instead of filling it out by hand. Once you fill in form, print it, sign it and mail it to the Copyright Office along with the deposit and filing fee.
It is easy to register a copyright, and the time it takes to do so can give you greater piece of mind when it comes to your business’s intellectual property.
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.