When you produce creative work, whether it’s a script, a photograph, or a song, you hold the copyright to that work. Simply put, you own the intellectual property, and you’re the only person who can claim it as your own. Anyone who wants to use it must ask your permission.
Copyright registration involves recording your copyright with the United States Copyright Office. Many people skip this step, but you might be wondering: is it worthwhile? What are the benefits of formal copyright registration? Here’s what you need to know.
Is Copyright Automatic?
Most people assume that their work is copyrighted automatically as soon as they create it. That’s technically true–you can file a copyright infringement lawsuit against someone, even if your copyright wasn’t registered before the infringement occurred. However, registering your copyright does come with some important benefits that can protect you and your work in case of copyright infringement.
Why Should You Consider Copyright Registration?
There are several reasons to consider copyright registration. First, it makes proving a copyright infringement case much easier. You are not only the rightful holder of the copyright but there is also a permanent record that proves you created the work.
Sometimes, copyright infringement cases involve intellectual property from years or even decades in the past. At that point, it becomes a lot harder to prove who actually created the work: the person bringing the lawsuit or the person accused of infringement.
Registering your copyright immediately will also give you access to potential “statutory damages.” since copyright cases can involve small settlements, it’s sometimes not worth a lawyer’s time to take on the case. Statutory damages, which can total up to $150,000, can apply if the work was registered with the copyright office before any infringement took place or within 90 days of the work’s publication. That could be enough for a lawyer to take on your case.
Are You Ever Required to Register Your Copyright?
Yes. If you ever need to file a copyright infringement lawsuit, you are required to formally register the copyright if you haven’t already done so. Registering the copyright upfront will not only allow you to skip this step in the future if you need to file a lawsuit, but it will also provide the other protections and increased case value discussed above.
Do You Need Legal Assistance for Copyright?
You shouldn’t need any legal assistance for simply registering your copyright information. However, you will need legal representation if you ever bring a copyright infringement case before a court. An experienced Southern California litigation attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.
To learn more about copyright or to discuss an infringement case, give us a call at 323-230-6200. Our experienced Beverly Hills, CA, copyright lawyers can help you decide how to proceed and protect your work.