While copyright protection is established upon a work’s creation, registration of the work with the U.S. Copyright Office adds significant value for rights owners. Most advantages to registration stem from enhanced protection and recourse should the copyright be infringed, but there are also compelling business reasons in support of registration.
We outline the top six reasons to register a copyrighted work with the U.S. Copyright Office.
1. Registration Allows Rights Owners to bring Infringement Actions in Federal Court
The most valuable benefit of registration is the rights owner’s ability to bring an action to protect its copyrighted work from infringement. If the rights owner’s copyright is violated, it may seek recourse by filing litigation for copyright infringement in federal court only if the work has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
2. Registration Grants Eligibility to be Awarded Statutory Damages and Attorneys’ Fees in an Infringement Proceeding
When timely registration is completed – within three months of a work’s publication – the rights owner may pursue statutory damages for infringement of its copyright. The option to pursue statutory damages relieves the burden of proving actual damages related to the infringement of the work, which is increasingly difficult to do in today’s complex digital economy for content.
The ability to leverage the possibility for large statutory damages may also position the rights owner favorably in pre-litigation settlement discussions or serve as an outright deterrent to infringement in the first instance.
What’s more, should the rights owner prevail on its claim of copyright infringement, it may seek remuneration for attorneys’ fees if the work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
3. Registration Grants Presumption of Ownership and Validity
When a work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office within five years of its publication, the registration certificate provides evidence of ownership of the underlying work and validity of its copyright. Should the rights owner seek to enforce its rights in court, the burden of proving ownership and validity in the absence of a copyright registration will often be significantly more difficult and costly.
4. Registration Establishes a Public Record of Ownership
A public record of ownership makes known the rights owner’s claim to its registered work and may also provide the means for interested parties to contact the rights owner to lawfully license content.
5. Registration Offers Additional Protection by U.S. Customs against Imported Counterfeits
Owners of a registered copyright may submit notice of the registration to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in order to receive increased scrutiny during screening of goods imported into the U.S. This is of particular value to owners of content distributed across a physical medium with a known susceptibility to counterfeiting, such as printed books, CDs, and DVDs.
6. Registration Demonstrates Commitment to the Protection of Creative Expression, Scholarly Endeavor, and Technological Progress
Whether a visual work of art, a recorded album, a written work of fiction or non-fiction, or innovative software or technology, a rights owner that commits to the registration of its copyrighted works demonstrates its commitment to the protection of intellectual property.
For publishers of content, a demonstrable commitment to the protection of intellectual property may contribute to competitive advantage in signing artists, authors, and other producers of content. This is particularly true in royalty-bearing situations where copyright infringement erodes value from not only the publisher, but also from the content creator.
Rights owners should develop a copyright registration strategy that weighs the benefits to copyright registration with the internal and external costs of registration. Where the content is actively monetized or represents an asset with expected future cashflows, the scales should tip heavily in favor of registration.
BCGuardian has significant experience developing and implementing registration strategies and programs for rights owners. Contact us to find out more about how we may be able to help protect your content through fully managed copyright registration programs.