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Should I Register My Copyright with the Copyright Office?

Via mollyali on Flickr

Registration with the Copyright Office is not required for protection, but it does have very real advantages.

Before a suit for infringement can be filed, the work must be registered.

Perhaps most importantly, without a timely registration (within 3 months of publication), you cannot recover statutory damages or attorney’s fees. Statutory damages can range from $750 to $30,000, or up to $150,000 if the act of infringement was done willfully. Without registration, you are limited in your recovery to actual damages, i.e., what you actually lost, what the reseller actually gained. You are also left bearing the cost of a litigation attorney, which can be hundreds of dollars an hour.

Registration also aids in proving the validity of the copyright in court. If your copyright is approved by the Copyright Office, it serves as prima facie evidence that your work is original and copyrightable. The owner of a registered copyright can even file for certain protections against importation of infringing copies.

Certain works must also be deposited with the Library of Congress during the registration process.

Obviously, it is not practical to register every single work you create – unless you create very few or have a extra time and money. Realistically, you should register whenever possible, and definitely if you suspect your work is of a type which will be infringed upon. For a post a day blog, for example, you might only register a lengthy narrative post. Check the Copyright Office for more information on the registration process online.

Back to the #Copyright overview.

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