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Advantages of Registering a Copyright

There are several specific benefits to registering a copyright with the Copyright Office. First, if an author wants to bring a copyright infringement action, they cannot do so unless the work is registered with the Copyright Office. However if the work is registered within five years of the date it was first published, the subsequent registration acts as prima facie evidence that the copyright is valid and owned by the copyright holder. What this means is that in any future lawsuit involving a claim of copyright infringement, there is a presumption in favor of the copyright holder and that their copyright is valid. It is important to note that registration may occur after the infringement already took place. So if an author discovers that another is infringing upon their copyright, they can register the work and then bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

There are also additional remedies available to authors who register their work before it is published or within three months of publishing. Most notably, the author may seek statutory damages (generally between $750 and $30,000, but the court can grant an award exceeding that range as well as attorney’s fees (if the infringement was willful).

Copyright protection begins from the moment an acceptable work is fixed in a tangible form. The copyright holder’s rights are therefore protected from that same moment of fixation. A copyright holder who does not register their work has all the same protections as someone who did register, except that they cannot bring an infringement action. Copyright law makes registration of the copyright a prerequisite to bringing a copyright infringement action. Otherwise, an author may license any or all of their exclusive rights or forbid specific usage of their work as could a registered copyright owner.

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