While the process may appear daunting at first, registering a copyright is an essential first step in protecting your legal rights in your work. The benefits that are associated with copyright registration are abundant and far outweigh any difficulties that may come with the registration process.
There are numerous legal benefits to registering a copyright and very few risks in doing so. For example, a copyright must be registered before its owner will be able to sue someone in United States court for infringement. If a copyrighted work is registered within three months after it is published or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. On the other hand, if the work was not registered, the copyright owner would only be entitled to actual damages and profits. In addition, registering a copyright lets the public know the fact that the work is protected by a copyright as well as the identity of the copyright owner. This will make it very difficult for potential copyright infringers to claim that they were not aware that the work was copyrighted and that their infringement is an innocent mistake. Finally, if a copyright is registered before the end of five years after the date that the work was first published, there is prima facie evidence in court that a copyright is valid and that all the facts stated in the certificate of registration are true. This means that the burden shifts to the defendant to show that a copyright is invalid or that the plaintiff suing for copyright infringement is not the owner, causing an extremely significant shift in the relative powers of the parties.
While there are plenty of benefits that come with registering a copyright, the process can be confusing without an intellectual property attorney to help guide you in the right direction. If you have an unregistered copyrightable work and need help registering a copyright, you should contact an experienced intellectual property attorney to help you register your copyright.