Many artists wonder if it worth the trouble to register their creative works with the US Copyright Office. The answer to any artist who hopes to distribute their works to the public is YES!
Registration is not a condition for copyright protection to attach. A work is protected by copyright when it “fixed in a tangible medium”, which basically means when it is written down, or otherwise recorded. Copyright law creates a number of important advantages to induce copyright holders to register their works. Some advantages of registration include:
- Registration of works are necessary before a lawsuit for infringement can be filed.
- Statutory damages and attorneys fees are available to copyright owners in court actions if registration is made prior to the infringement or within 3 months of the work’s publication. For non-registered works, only actual damages and profits are available to copyright owners in successful infringement actions.
- Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.
- Registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated on the certificate (if registration is made before or within 5 years of publication).
- Registration permits the copyright owner to record the registration with the US Customs Service for protection against importation of infringing copies.
A creative work can be registered at any time during the life of the copyright, and if created in 2007, the copyright carries a term of 70-years after the life of the author.
Registration is a simple process and the fee is low ($45 for basic), so artists are encouraged to register their copyrights on their music, video and other works.